1. What is a hand therapist?
A hand therapist is a physical therapist or occupational therapist who, through advanced study and experience, specializes in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hand and upper extremity. A hand therapist may also have advanced certification such as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT).
To learn more visit www.htcc.org
A Certified Hand Therapist is a physical or occupational therapist who has a minimum of five years of clinical experience including 4000 hours or more of direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.
2. When do you need a hand therapist?
A hand therapist is needed when pain, dysfunction, trauma or disease processes occur at the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and/or shoulder. Due to the complexity of the hand, a hand therapist should be your first choice for rehabilitation. Hand therapists are also trained in the evaluation and fabrication of custom splints/orthoses.
3. What should I expect on my first visit?
The first visit starts at our front desk with the completion of your intake information. As a courtesy, we will review your Medicare and Supplemental insurance benefits with you. We highly recommend you review your out of network outpatient physical therapy benefits with your insurance company prior to your initial visit. Your therapist will perform an evaluation which entails taking a detailed medical history, performing appropriate tests and measurements and developing a treatment plan with functional goals.
4. What happens on the first treatment visit?
At the front desk you will be greeted and brought back into the clinic. If appropriate, you may be set-up with a modality to pre-treat your tissues (your therapist will explain this to you during the evaluation) and you will be treated by your therapist per the plan that was developed during your initial evaluation.
A physical therapist applies scientific research and proven evidence based techniques to help people get back in motion. All physical therapists are required to receive a graduate degree, either a masters or a clinical doctorate from an accredited physical therapy program before taking a national licensure examination. State licensure is also required. Physical Therapists examine, diagnose and then treat conditions that limit the body’s ability to move and function in daily life. To learn more visit www.apta.org
An occupational therapist also has either a master’s or a doctoral degree from an accredited occupational therapy program. Occupational therapy is also a science driven, evidence based profession that works with people of all ages to return them to their daily activities. Practitioners must complete supervised clinical internships in a variety of health care settings and pass a national examination as well as a state licensure examination. To learn more visit www.aota.org
6. Do I need to see a doctor before I can come to therapy?
In California, patients are able to be evaluated and treated by a licensed physical therapist without first obtaining a physician’s referral under legislation called Direct Access.
Direct Access allows you, the patient to choose physical therapy without having to see a physician first. This law empowers you to make expedient health choices and take greater control over your health, leading to a much higher rate of success.
In California, Direct Access allows a licensed Physical Therapist to provide evaluation and therapy services for 45 days or 12 visits whichever comes first. After that limit has been reached, services can continue with a signed plan of care or referral.
For patients with Medicare insurance, during the initial evaluation, Karen will establish a plan of care for you. This plan of care will be sent to your physician for signature.
7. What should I bring with me on my first visit?
Please bring a picture ID, your insurance card if applicable and your completed intake forms. You may also come to our office prior to your appointment time and complete the intake forms before your evaluation.
8. Is there anything I should do before my first visit?
If you have swelling, elevating the swollen area above the heart can assist with drainage. Getting a good nights sleep is essential for good healing as well as eating a healthy diet. Hold all exercise until cleared by either your physician or your therapist.
9. Who are the local/regional hand surgeons and hand therapists?
10. What age ranges do you treat?
We treat all ages from infants to the elderly.
11. What special services do you provide?
12. Why should I see a physical therapist rather than a massage therapist or chiropractor?
Physical therapists have advanced degrees and devote their educational studies and training to the science and art of rehabilitation. We focus not only on the consequences of an injury or illness but examine and treat the cause of the condition. A massage therapist does not have the education or expertise to understand complex medical diagnoses nor would they be able to follow the protocols required for the numerous problems that can occur through out the body. Chiropractors can diagnose, but tend not to specialize in the problems of the upper quarter. Even within the physician community, MD’s will refer their patients to specialists in disorders of the upper quarter and hand surgeons will insist their hand patients see hand therapists.