Hand Therapy

What is hand therapy?

Hand therapy is the non-surgical management of hand disorders and injuries using physical methods such as exercise, splinting and wound care.

Hand therapy brings together techniques of occupational therapy including wound assessment scar management, retraining, splinting, advice on activities of daily living, combined with physiotherapy techniques including  joint mobilisations, stretching, active and resisted exercises, and ultrasound.

Hand therapy has a crucial role in the recovery from injury of the hand or wrist, and in the recovery from hand surgical operations. Hand therapy is integrated into the hand surgery team with our hand therapist working alongside surgeons, planning and implementing post-operative care in order to hasten patients’ recovery following surgery.

What is a hand therapist?

A hand therapist is a registered occupational therapist or physiotherapist who specialises in the rehabilitation of patients with conditions affecting the hands and upper limb. At Spire Dunedin Kerri Cripps takes the lead role as Hand Therapist.

A hand therapist’s high level of specialisation requires advanced postgraduate education and clinical experience. This enables them to help patients return to a productive lifestyle following injury, disease or deformity affecting the hand. Kerri has undertaken extensive postgraduate training to support her knowledge and learning, having achieved membership to the British Association of Hand Therapists (BAHT) qualifying in both level 1 and Level 2 of accreditation.

As an experienced hand therapist Kerri can evaluate and identify problems affecting the upper limbs, provide advice regarding exercise, preventative care, as well as aids to daily living and ergonomic consultation.

What can I expect?

Hand Therapy is an essential, but often ignored, part of the recovery from hand surgery, trauma, disease or injury. Recovery from any joint injury is challenging, but injuries of the hand, wrist and upper limb often take a little more time to heal and can require more involved rehabilitation and treatment, to ensure the restoration of hand function and the upper limb. Your Hand Therapist plays a vital part in aiding your recovery, not only physically, but by providing emotional and psychological support if necessary.

During your initial assessment, your therapist will examine your hand. If there is a surgical or traumatic wound this will be assessed, along with your range of movement, strength and dexterity examined. It is important your therapists take these initial measurements as this will enable her to formulate a treatment plan and indicate an excepted length of recovery and prognosis.

During your recovery to will get you knows your therapist well as you may need to see her on a weekly basis for treatment for splining. Depending on the nature of the injury you may continue to see your therapist for up to 3 -4 months, but this is not always the case. Following your initial assessment, your therapist will be able to indicate how many treatment sessions may be required.

What conditions can be treated?

  • All general conditions in hand and upper limb surgery
  • Acute hand trauma
  • Dupuytren’s contracture
  • Dequervains
  • Extensor tendon reconstruction
  • Flexor tendon reconstruction
  • Finger joint replacement
  • Fractures of hand and wrist
  • Joint fusion
  • Nerve entrapment (carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome)
  • Osteoarthritis of the base of thumb
  • Osteoarthritis of the wrist
  • Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand and wrist
  • Soft tissue trauma
  • Sports injury of the hand
  • Tendon and ligament injuries (acute and chronic)
  • Tennis and Golfer's elbow
  • Total wrist replacement.