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Hand Therapy

Hand therapy is the management and rehabilitation of hand and wrist disorders. Hand therapy has a crucial role in helping a person recover from an injury of the hand or wrist, as well as aid the recovery process after hand surgery. Hand therapy is also beneficial for the on-going management and support of chronic disorders.

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Everything you need to know

Hand therapy is the management and rehabilitation of hand and wrist disorders. Hand therapy has a crucial role in helping a person recover from an injury of the hand or wrist, as well as aiding the recovery process after hand surgery. Hand therapy is also beneficial for the ongoing management and support of chronic disorders.

Hand therapy can help with:
• Fractures, tendon, nerve and joint injuries
• Tendinopathies including tendonitis and tenosynovitis
• Carpal tunnel syndrome and other peripheral nerve injuries
• Chronic wrist conditions
• Wrist injuries
• Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
• Congenital hand deformities
• Dupuytren’s disease
• Sports injuries
• Work-related conditions
• Rehab after hand, wrist or arm surgery

Our hand therapists have helped many patients recover after an injury or surgery, as well as those suffering from long-term issues with their hands. If you have sustained an injury, are due to have hand surgery, or are suffering from a chronic condition that is affecting your hand(s), our therapists can help improve your function, range of motion and strength.

Our hand therapy service provides:
• Help with recent or long-lasting pain.
• Custom-made splints to protect an injured bone, tendon, or ligament. Splints can help prevent or improve stiffness.
• Post op care, such as cast removal, advice for wound healing and preventing infection, as well as scar treatment and reducing swelling.
• Sensory re-education – helping you feel again after a nerve injury.
• Home exercise programs to improve your movement and strength.
• Help getting back to work, sports, or hobbies.

Before therapy

Most people will be referred to our hand therapy service by their consultant. Many times this will be after surgery to help with your recovery.

However, you can refer yourself for hand therapy if you would like some help after an injury or if you have a chronic hand condition for which you would like a management programme.

At your first appointment, your hand therapist will ask you about your issue and what you would like to achieve from therapy. They will also examine your hand and run you through some movements so they can ascertain your current range of motion, hand strength and function, and pain levels.

From this, they will work with you to set goals and create a tailored programme for you. This could include exercises to practice at home, massage and physical aides such as a splint, compression garments or tools to help you exercise.

During therapy

Depending on your issue, our hand therapists can help in a number of ways:

Exercises. These may include hand and finger exercises where you are encouraged to use your own muscle strength or where the therapist helps a stiff joint to move.

Strengthening. This may include using putties of different firmness, grippers, weights, bands and other aides, which with consistent practice will increase your hand strength.

Scar treatment. The aim of this is to reduce the visibility or any scars, as well as reduce tightness in your scar that is affecting your range of motion. This can include friction massage, taping, or using silicone putty, sleeves or sheets to help soften the scar.

Oedema (build-up of fluid) control. When fluid builds up in the body, it causes the affected area to become swollen. When this happens in your arm, wrist or hand, you will find it harder to manage everyday tasks such as typing, texting or picking up and holding items. Our hand therapists can help by prescribing compression garments and wraps, using specific massage techniques and showing you motions to incorporate into your routine.

After therapy

Typically, you should see your physiotherapist every fortnight to start with and then less regularly as your symptoms improve. A hand therapy programme can vary in length from a few weeks to a few months. During this time, you will also need to practice exercises at home regularly and consistently. The better you comply with your therapist’s programme, the more you should improve.

If you are struggling with any part of your treatment, let your therapist know, as they will be able to modify your programme or suggest other treatment options.

How to pay for your treatment

If you’re… paying for yourself

Did you know you don’t need private medical insurance to come to St John & St Elizabeth Hospital? As a self-pay patient, you can access safe, outstanding quality health care at times to suit you.

For scans and tests, as well as to see most consultants, you’ll still need to be referred by a medical professional like your GP, but as a self-pay patient, the process is more straightforward. You won’t need authorisation from an insurance provider, and you’ll have greater choice of therapist and appointment times.

If you’re… insured

St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is approved by all major medical insurance companies. If you have a personal private health insurance policy, or your company provide it for you, you can use it to pay for your care from your initial consultation through to treatment, surgery and aftercare such as physiotherapy. Not all private health insurance plans cover the same things. It’s very important to check exactly what you are covered for with your insurance provider.

01

Appointment

You can book an appointment to see one of our hand therapists or alternatively your GP or hand surgeon may refer you to our service. If you refer yourself, you can either call us or send an email explaining your problem. Your request will be triaged by a member of our hand therapy team who will then let you know whether you should book an appointment with us or book to see one of our hand & wrist consultants in the first instance.

02

Treatment plan

At your first appointment, you’ll go through your medical history, how the current problem is limiting you and goals for therapy. You will undergo a thorough assessment including range of motion, pain, grip strength as well as go through some specific tests. Your therapist will create a tailored treatment plan that could include splinting, an exercise programme or activity modification.

03

Post-op assessment

If you have had hand surgery, your surgeon will refer you to our hand therapy service, where we will provide aftercare such as removing or changing your cast or dressing. If you need a splint, our hand therapists will fit one for you. Depending on the procedure you had, your hand therapist and surgeon will agree the steps you should take for optimal recovery as well as give you specific advice for returning to your normal activities. This is crucial to help avoid complications after a hand or wrist operation.

04

Follow-up

You will have regular follow-up appointments, which will continue until your problem is either resolved or you are effectively able to manage it. If you were referred by a hand surgeon, you will also have regular follow-ups with them. Your hand therapist and hand surgeon will meet regularly and collaboratively create a recovery plan, which ensures the best possible outcomes for you.