(Photo | Courtesy of Rebound Physical Therapy)
A hand therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who has specialized knowledge in the upper limbs. Anatomy and mechanics of hands and arms are extremely complex and intricately connected, which is why it requires specialization. Think about all of the various movements you use your arms and hands for — opening a door, using a spoon, holding and typing on your phone, etc. Even seemingly simple tasks will be impacted by an injury to the smallest finger bone.
What’s the difference in a hand therapist who is an occupational therapist and a physical therapist? Well, let’s first start here:
The term ‘occupation’ is more general than what we typically think. In fact, one of the main definitions of occupation is “a way of spending time.” Your occupation could be a combination of mom, teacher, gardener, friend, brewer, chef, etc. These are the activities that occupy your time.
We live our most fulfilling life when we are able to fully participate in all of our valued occupations. Imagine breaking your wrist, rupturing a finger tendon or tearing your BICEPs. Suddenly you can’t hold your baby, write a grocery list, chop vegetables, add the hops, throw a ball, or achieve a full night of pain-free sleep. Every part of who you are and the way you define yourself as a person would be impacted by this injury.
Occupational therapists have the knowledge to treat your injury as well as the expertise to analyze your daily activities in order to guide your rehabilitation program. Their goal is to ensure your range of motion, strength and endurance are restored in the safest, most efficient way. Allowing you to get back to participating in all of the occupations you want and need to live your best life.
Both occupational and physical hand therapists have similar goals in terms of helping you heal from injury. The main premise of occupational therapy is the therapeutic use of meaningful occupation as a form of treatment. For example, rather than looking at it as “treating an elbow injury” an occupational therapist might focus on motivating a person to bend their elbow so they are able to pick up their beer.
So, now you know… occupational therapists don’t help you find jobs and hand therapists don’t just treat hands.
As Rebound, our occupational therapists who specialize in hand therapy are caring elbow, arm, wrist, and hand experts. They take you on a rehabilitation journey where your ability to return to your unique collection of meaningful occupations is the finish line.