A hand therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who, through advanced study, specializes in rehabilitating patients with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremity.
What is hand therapy?
Hand therapy is a specialized modality that all therapists do not have. Hand therapists have experience in the treatment of a variety of injuries of the hand. They work closely with your physician. Many injuries and surgeries require very specific limitations to protect or repair your injury. Your hand therapist will make sure you understand what your physician wants. As you heal, you will be able to do more.
Who needs hand therapy?
Patients whose injuries significantly reduce the use of their hand will need hand therapy. This may include fractures, trauma, pain, or weakness. You may only need one or two visits, or you may need to come more often. Your physician will go over this with you before you start therapy.
Our hand therapists works with patients who may have been affected by an accident or trauma leaving them with wounds, scars, burns, injured tendons or nerves, fractures, or even amputation of the finger, hand, or arm. They also treat patients who are disabled from the effects of cumulative trauma disorders – such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome. Many patients seeking the care of a hand therapist also suffer from such chronic problems as arthritis or a neurological condition.
What treatments are used in hand therapy?
Hand therapy uses a variety of techniques and modalities to help you regain motion and functional use of your hand. Range of motion (ROM), scar desensitization, and a wide range of strengthening activities are used. You may need a custom splint to protect your injury in the early stages of your recovery.
How often do patients go to hand therapy?
Your physician will write a prescription stating your frequency and duration. This is based on the severity of your injury. As you progress in your recovery, your frequency generally decreases. You are also responsible to do a home exercise program (HEP) that your therapist will give you. Your success depends on you following your physicians and therapists recommendations. Together, you, your physician, and therapist will customize a plan of care to help you recover.
Occupational Hand Therapists
Eric Galvan, O.T.R./L.
Eric received his Occupational Therapy degree from University of Illinois, Chicago. He is a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist and certified as an Ergonomics Assessment Specialist. Eric is licensed by the State of Nevada Board of Occupational Therapy and he joined the Reno Orthopedic Clinic Physical Therapy and Hand Center in 2000. His focus is in upper extremity rehabilitation, that includes wrist, finger and elbow fractures, tendon laceration, custom splint fabrication, tendonitis and upper extremity sprains. He is bilingual in Spanish and English
Michael Welch, M.B.A., O.T.R./L., C.H.T.
Michael received his Occupational Therapy degree from San Jose State University in 1983 and became a certified Hand Therapist in 2004. His focus is in upper extremity rehabilitation which includes wrist, finger and elbow fractures, tendon laceration, custom splint fabrication tendonitis and upper extremity sprains. Michael joined the Reno Orthopedic Clinic Physical Therapy and Hand Center in 2004.
Vanessa L. Barton, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist
Vanessa received her BS in Health Sciences from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2010. She went on to receive her Master of Occupational Therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Dallas, Texas. She is a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist and licensed by the State of Nevada Board of Occupational Therapy. She joined the Reno Orthopedic Clinic Physical Therapy and Hand Center in 2017. Her focus is in upper extremity rehabilitation, that includes wrist, finger and elbow fractures, tendon laceration, custom splint fabrication, tendonitis and upper extremity sprains.