Hand and Upper Extremity

Hand and Upper Extremity

Hand Therapy at Wesley Medical Center


Many individuals who suffer an injury or disease that affects the hand, wrist, arm, elbow or shoulder experience pain and disability that affects their overall quality of life. They may assume improvement is not possible, and they have to accept the condition. But this is not necessarily true. A certified hand therapist (CHT) can provide treatments to reduce pain, increase range of motion and strength, and improve functional abilities.

Depending on the diagnosis, therapy can be beneficial when provided alone, or before or after surgery. Our CHT work in cooperation with physicians and clients to achieve the best possible results.

What is a certified hand therapist?

A CHT is a highly qualified professional who is certified by the national Hand Therapy Certification Commission. A CHT is an occupational or physical therapist who has at least five years of experience, including at least 4,000 hours of clinical practice in hand therapy. In addition, a CHT must pass a comprehensive test covering advanced clinical skills and knowledge of the upper extremity. To maintain certification, a CHT must demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.

Conditions treated:

Hand therapists work with patients who have a variety of conditions, including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow and other types of tendonitis
  • Sports injuries
  • Repetitive motion syndromes
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Compressed nerve disorders, such as cubital tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Amputation and other trauma disorders
  • Postoperative conditions
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD)
  • De Quervain’s Disease
  • Dupuytren’s Contracture

Evaluation and treatment:

Following a thorough evaluation, the CHT develops an individualized treatment plan for each client.

Treatments may include:

  • Range of motion and strengthening exercises
  • Control of swelling
  • Moist heat and cold therapy
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation
  • Scar and soft tissue massage
  • Desensitization and sensory re-education
  • Customized splint fabrication
  • Joint protection principles
  • Therapeutic activities
  • Cold laser/infrared
  • Therapeutic activity
  • Electrical stimulation

Hand therapy is covered by most insurance providers.