What Does A Hand Therapist Do?

3 June 2019

You are all thinking it. What does a Hand Therapist actually do?

What Does A Hand Therapist Do?

Hand Therapists specialise in diagnosing and treating any injury from the tips of the fingers to the shoulder. Some may also be surfing gods or Facebook celebrities. All our therapists can review X-rays and scans, assess injuries and give specialist advice. At Active Hand Therapy we can custom make waterproof casts, splints, orthosis, braces and exercise programs. We provide dry needling, strength assessments, work place programs, scar management and post surgical care.

What Do Hand Therapists Treat?

Everything from the tips of the fingers to the shoulder! If you have injured yourself or it is a chronic condition Hand Therapists can help. Some of the injuries we see are fractures, sprains, tendons, overuse, worksite, sports, post-op, carpal tunnel, pregnancy related and many more! We are specialists in diagnosing, treating and rehabilitation. Active Hand Therapy even has a Fracture Clinic, with casting and an Acute Hand Clinic. We make custom braces and splints, provide wound management, massage, dry needling, acupuncture, desensitisation programs and a host of other services. If you are unsure, give us a call!

Why Choose A Hand Therapist?

Hand Therapists are very similar to a physiotherapist (and some of us are). However our biggest strength is that we specialise in this relatively small but important area. Hand Therapists can also cast and splint as well as doing all the assessments and programs a physiotherapist can do. We work very closely with many Physios and OTs. 

You can view each individual therapist’s specialties here.

What Qualifications Should My Hand Therapist Have?

A Hand Therapist must have completed at least a Bachelor of Physiotherapy or a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy and should be accredited with the Australian Hand Therapy Association (AHTA). To obtain accrediation and to be recognised as a full member as awarded by the AHTA you must complete 3 years of specialist training. To remian an active member you must show ongoing compentency and recency of clinical practice every year. Some therapists also choose to obtain international accreditation and sit the Certified Hand Therapy exam. This requires even more study (usually one year) and passing a gruelling exam to be provided this qualification. At Active Hand Therapy we also have two members of our team that has undertaken the Masters in Hand Therapy from Derby University - the only specialist Masters degree in Hand Therapy. 

Do You Need An Appointment?

Usually Yes. But Hand Therapists will often see emergencies too eg Fractures, wounds and other acute injuries. 

Are Referrals Necessary?

No. Referrals are not necessary to see a Hand Therapist. The same process applies for seeing a physiotherapist and Hand Therapist. Some patients can obtain greater rebates if referred for a chronic condition by their GP. If you have a referral Hand Therapists will provide communication and reports to other health professionals. 

Do You See Children?

Yes! Of course. Hand Therapists will often treat children and they are perfectly qualified to make sure there are no long term problems. 

What Happens In A Normal Appointment?

Hand therapists may diagnose, formalise a treatment plan, treat - which may involve wax, massage, dressings, splinting, exercises, mobilisation - educate and set some goals for improvement. Hand injuries have much better outcomes after seeing a Hand Therapist

Why Has My Surgeon Referred Me?

Hand Therapists work very closely with Orthopedic and Plastic Surgeons. It allows both teams to get the best outcomes post surgery for the patients. Appointments usually require splinting, exercises, mobilisation and sometimes wound management.

How much does it cost?

This will vary however a standard consult for a private patient will be around $90-$110. Splints and braces will cost extra if required. Private health rebates can range from 20%-100%. WorkCover, DVA, CDM and other insurer rebates may apply. It is best to contact a clinic and get some advice. 

Content provided by Dee Coles

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