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Certified Hand Therapy

Northside Hospital is pleased to offer patients with conditions of the upper extremities an option for rehabilitation via Certified Hand Therapy.

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who has a minimum of five years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years. At the time of this writing, there are only 5,812 Certified Hand Therapist in the United States.

Just a few of the condition that a CHT is proficient in evaluating and treating include:

  • Adhesions or tightness (e.g., musculotendinis, capsular)
  • Amputations
  • Arthritis and rheumatic diseases
  • Congenital anomalies/differences
  • Crush injuries/mutilating trauma
  • Cumulative trauma disorders
  • Cysts and tumors
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Dislocations and subluxations
  • Dupuytren's disease
  • Edema
  • Fractures
  • Ligamentous injury and instability
  • Lymphedema
  • Muscular strains, tears, and avulsions
  • Nerve injuries and conditions (e.g., neuropathies, palsies, nerve repairs)
  • Neuromuscular diseases – ALS, MS, MD
  • Pain (e.g. complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia)
  • Replantation and revascularization
  • Spinal cord and central nervous system injuries
  • Tendon injuries and conditions (e.g., lacerations, transfers, tendonitis, ruptures)
  • Thermal and electrical injuries
  • Vascular disorders
  • Wounds and scars

CHTs use a variety of techniques and tools in therapeutic intervention with hand and upper quarter patients, including but not limited to:

  • Biofeedback techniques
  • Compression therapy
  • Continuous Passive Motion (CPM)
  • Desensitization
  • Design and/or selection of adaptive/assistive devices
  • Ergonomic and activity modification in home, work, school or leisure
  • Exercise
  • Functional activity
  • Hand writing techniques
  • Joint protection instruction/energy conservation instruction
  • Manual therapy
  • Modalities
  • Orthotic design, selection, fitting, fabrication and training:
  • Patient education
  • Prosthetics
  • Scar Management
  • Sensory re-education
  • Taping techniques
  • Training in ADL/adaptive/assistive devices
  • Wellness education
  • Work conditioning
  • Work hardening
  • Wound care

At Northside Hospital, our CHT Heather Wood OTR/L, CHT, LMT, CEAS has been an Occupational Therapist for 23 years, 16 of those being a Certified Hand Therapist. She is a licensed massage therapist and a Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist. She has both worked and taught in the US and internationally. Her passion is to share her knowledge and experience with others in the care of the upper extremity.

Appointments with a CHT are available only with physician referral. For more information, please call 727-521-5149.