Hand physical therapy is an innovative rehabilitation technique used by physical or orthopedic therapists on patients with conditions that affect their hands, arms and upper extremities and thus restrict their motion. Hand physical therapy helps patients regain strength, mobility and function. This therapy is sometimes used in conjunction with other techniques. For example, shoulder physical therapy is often used together with therapy for the spine. Advanced Physical Therapy (APT) is sometimes used in combination with hand physical therapy, especially for patients with traumatic injuries that affect either the upper or lower extremities.
Physical Therapy assists patients with conditions that limit their range of movement by improving muscle strength and range of motion and increasing muscle flexibility. This therapy relieves pain and improves functioning by allowing the patient to perform daily tasks without excessive pain. Physical therapists can also help patients with conditions such as congenital abnormalities, stroke, amputation and serious trauma by preventing or limiting the development of secondary problems. Hand physical therapy usually begins with range-of-motion exercises and is further progressed through strength training and functional training, all of which are aimed at restoring the normal functioning of the limb.
The most common conditions treated in a hand physical therapy clinic include rotator cuff tears, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, whiplash, wrist fractures, calluses, tendinitis and repetitive strain injuries. Patients may also be suffering from arthritis, stroke, diabetic neuropathy and other diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system. The various treatment approaches adopted include therapeutic exercise programs, immobilization, therapeutic traction, speech therapy, nutritional support, surgery, injections and physical therapy. Common exercises used in this type of therapy are massage, stretching, ultrasound, balance and strength training.
In order to treat a hand injury, the patient will be advised of the severity of the problem and be put on a program of stretching and strengthening exercises. A skilled hand therapist will design a customized rehabilitation program, taking into account the patient’s goals, lifestyle and current health condition. Stabilization is achieved through compression braces, splints, elbow and shoulder joint supports, custom orthotics and other devices. Therapy for patients with a history of hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems, hypertension, angina or coronary heart disease requires specific attention as these conditions may lead to more complications. Blood thinners will also be prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming and reduce the risk of infection.
To provide complete rehabilitation, occupational therapists and hand physical therapy co-workers are usually required. Occupational therapists supervise exercise and treatment procedures and monitor the progress of patients. If the patient is unable to perform the necessary exercises or if the therapeutic treatment is not effective, the occupational therapist may refer the patient to another physician or hand therapist who is specialized in that field. The goal of both the patient and the occupational therapist is to achieve optimal performance through systematic rehab.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Hand Trauma can have a devastating effect on a person’s daily living. Hand physical therapy can help to alleviate the symptoms and prevent permanent damage. Before seeking treatment it is important to consult with a physician to rule out any serious medical conditions. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of hand physical therapy and will only cover for specific medical conditions. There are many other resources available to help you find information and find a therapist to treat your specific condition.