Hand therapy

The aim of Hand Therapy is to enable you to return to using you hand in daily activities following a hand injury. These activities could include your job, activities at home, sports or a hobby.

The hand therapist is a registered Occupational Therapist who specialises in the rehabilitation of patients with conditions affecting the hands and upper limb.   

The hand therapist will evaluate and identify problems affecting the hands. He or she can provide advice regarding exercise, preventative care and if appropriate aids to daily living.

Your injury or surgery may require you to wear a splint protect the bone, tendon or ligament while it heals. The Therapist will make your splint and you will take it home with you when you leave your appointment.

The Hand Therapists work closely with the doctors, planning and implementing post-operative care to ensure the best possible outcome following surgery or an injury.

How can I be referred to hand therapy?

Most patients referred to hand therapy have been assessed by either a plastics surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon or a rheumatologist. GP’s can also refer to hand therapy. If you have a problem with you hand (and it’s not an emergency) then your GP can refer you for hand therapy if appropriate.  If you have an urgent issue with your hand please go to A&E.

Your hand therapy appointment

When you come for an appointment, please bring a list of your medications and your appointment letter if you have one. Once you arrive please book in at reception, the receptionists may check your contact details. You will then be seated in reception, where the hand therapist will call you in for your appointment.  You will have a one on one treatment session in an open treatment area with other people with hand injuries, if you would like to be treated in a private room please let your therapist know. 

Your initial appointment is usually 30 minutes to one hour depending on the complexity of your hand problem. Follow up appointments are usually half an hour long. The therapists aim to see you on time, however there are occasions when treatment sessions run a little longer than expected. If you are waiting for your therapist for longer than 10 minutes please inform reception staff that you are still waiting.

Due to a high demand for hand therapy if you are unable to attend your appointment and do not let us know we will discharge you.  If you are more than 10 minutes late for your appointment the therapist may be unable to treat you and you will need to re-book your appointment. 

If you need to change you appointment you need to give us at least 24 hours notice. You can change your appointment by calling: 0207 377 7872 or Email: BNHT.bartshealththerapies@nhs.net

Your initial appointment is likely to include some of the following:

  • The therapist will take a detailed history of you injury or issue with your hand including how it happened.
  • Details of any problems you are currently having including pain, movement, activities and work.
  • A physical examination of you hand will be carried out.
  • Any wounds or wires will be checked and cleaned. 
  • Discussion about what treatment is appropriate for you injury or hand condition.
  • You will be able to discuss concerns and goals you have in this appointment
  • You will be provided with an individual rehabilitation program which is likely to include exercises which you will need to complete at home on a daily basis. 
  • Initial measurements such as range of movement may be taken to enable you progress to be objectively measured.  
  • The therapist may make a splint for you to wear to protect your hand while it heals or to help improve your movement. Most splints are removable as they have Velcro straps however your therapist will tell you if and when you can remove your splint.  
  • If you have had surgery the therapist will assess your wound and take your stitches out when necessary. If you do have a wound it is important to keep it clean and dry until the therapist advises you that you can wash your wound. Usually the wound needs to be kept dry for two weeks after surgery.
  • Every patient is given individualised treatment programmes. Most of you exercises will be carried out in your own home with regular outpatient hand therapy reviews to ensure you are improving.

If there are any concerns about your hand that require a doctor to review you then the therapist will arrange this.

At the end of your hand therapy appointment you will be given a card which you will take to reception to book your next appointment, so you will leave with a follow up appointment.