A hand therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who, through advanced study, specializes in rehabilitating patients with conditions affecting the hands and upper quadrant. Additionally, Certified Hand Therapists, CHTs, have a minimum of five years of clinical experience and have successfully passed an examination of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper extremity rehabilitation. The exam requires detailed knowledge of the anatomy and treatment of the upper quadrant.
A hand therapist works with patients with a variety of upper extremity disorders, including tendon disorders, nerve disorders, lacerations, fractures and dislocations, inflammatory disorders, chronic pain syndrome and nerve compression injuries. Many patients seeking hand therapy also suffer from such chronic problems as arthritis or neurological conditions. CHTs work closely with the physician to provide a continuum of care for patients.