As a physical therapist, your primary goal is to maximize the quality of life of the individuals that you work with. Your career is highly varied. You will work with patients of all ages and with all types of abilities and issues. You are likely to work in a variety of different settings. You help in the rehabilitation process after an injury, aid in managing chronic health conditions, help patients learn and practice healthy habits, and aid in preventing patients from having to depend on medications and/or have surgery.
There are many fields that you may choose from. If you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, the hand and wrist physical therapy specialty may be for you!
What is Hand and Wrist Physical Therapy?
Hand and wrist physical therapy is both an art and a science. It focuses on the rehabilitation of the upper limb area. This includes the hand, the wrist, the elbow, as well as the girdle of the shoulder. This form of physical therapy actually merges the practices of both occupational therapy and physical therapy. It combines the knowledge from both specialties as they relate to the function and the activity of the upper limb region of the body.
Hand and wrist physical therapists use their set of unique skills to assess, plan, and treat patients. These specialists focus on therapeutic-based interventions to successfully prevent dysfunction of the upper limb.
They also specialize in restoring function and/or place an emphasis on reversing the overall progression of upper limb pathologies so that the patient is able to execute the necessary tasks that require the use of the upper limb and fully participate in activities that involve the upper limb.
What Makes a Hand and Wrist Physical Therapist Different?
If you choose to work in the hand and wrist physical therapy specialty, you will be registered as either an occupational or physical therapist. In some instances, you may be registered as both, depending on your education. Your advanced educational background will provide you with clinical-based experience and the complete integration of and on the topics of physiology, anatomy, and kinesiology associated with the upper limb.
Prior to becoming an upper limb physical therapist, you will become proficient in many topics. These include medical conditions that impact the upper-quadrant of the body.
These include those that stem from some type of trauma, from a medical disease or those that are congenital or stem from a result of a deformity. You may choose to obtain an advanced level of certification in your field. The most popular being the Certified Hand Specialist (CHT).
The Certified Hand Therapist certification involves going to school for clinical-based experience for a minimum of three years. You must then pass an examination that covers the upper limb rehabilitation in theory and advanced-leveled clinical skills. Once you successfully complete all that is required, you will be able to obtain this special certification.
The patient profile that you will work with as a hand and wrist physical therapist will prove to be highly diverse. These individuals will vary in age, condition, and physical state. They will all have either an upper limb medical disorder or an upper limb injury.
Examples include those with injuries to their fingertips, tendinopathies, nerve disorders, ligament or tendon injuries, fractures, various types of dislocations, infections, and much, much more. You may also treat patients that have autoimmune issues, pain, neurological-based issues, diabetes, congenital issues, and even psychogenic-based disorders that directly impact the upper-quadrant region of the body.
Techniques and Tools
As a hand and wrist physical therapist, you will directly evaluate and intervene with treatments for any type of issue involving the upper-level extremities of the body. You will provide post-operative rehabilitation, conservative treatments to avoid surgical interventions, and preventative care. You will use many different techniques and tools to assist you with your work. The list below – though, not comprehensive – provides an example of these:
- Activity Regimes
- Behavior Modification Therapy
- Compression Therapy
- Electrical-Based Modalities
- Joint Protection Training
- Manual Training
- Pain Management
- Patient Education
- Prosthetic Training
- Wellness Education
- Wound Management
The goal of your work as a hand and wrist physical therapist is to restore the function of the upper extremities by using the latest and most productive treatments possible. You may find yourself placing a custom splint on your patient or engaging in therapeutic taping.
You may use hands-on manipulation for the soft tissues and/or joints in the body. You may also perform direct care for wounds and/or scar treatment care. For those patients with permanent upper limb issues, the goal is to provide information on techniques, required equipment, and education to help patients perform optimally each and every single day with less pain. The ultimate goal for all patients is independence.
Colorado Physical Therapy Network
If you are a physical therapist – regardless of type – you should join us here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network. We are dedicated to providing the best rehabilitation services to our patients. We offer a comprehensive network of like-minded professionals that are interested in making a difference with their patients. We support physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists and their associated practices. We provide a group that is highly structured that will promote a unique environment of mutual cooperation among all fields.
In addition to this, we here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network specialize in increasing cooperation among insurance companies, patients, doctors, and their therapists. We know and understand that whole-patient care involves a group of professionals on the medical side, the coverage side, and more. In doing this, we can help patients save money and regain their ability to live highly productive and independent lives. We can assist you in finding professional openings to advance your career, help increase the profits of your therapy practice, and only associate with therapy clinics that are fully credentialed. To learn more, or to join our extensive network, click the following link today: https://coloradophysicaltherapynetwork.com/