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Physical Therapy and Hand Therapy

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Patients can have numerous questions regarding physical therapy and hand therapy, what to expect and why it may be the best option for them. So, to help you answer those patient questions, we interviewed Noah Arenson, PT and Karen Thomas, OTR/L, CHT.


physical therapistWhy do you think physical therapy may be the best treatment plan for me?

Noah: The initial evaluation with determine that fact. The advantage of undergoing physical therapy is learning your body’s limitations and discovering how to address them to your

advantage. If we do not identify impairments we can address through physical therapy, we would discuss with your healthcare provider a more appropriate route for care.

How involved will you be in my day-to-day therapy?

Noah: Each session would involve hands-on manual treatments, as indicated, followed by progressive therapeutic exercise specific to your individual goals. I, or your assigned physical therapist, would be involved directly throughout the entire visit every visit.

Will I see the same physical therapist for each appointment, or will I be assigned a different therapist each time?

Noah: You will see the same physical therapist from the initial evaluation until your last appointment. You will not work with anyone but your assigned physical therapist.

What are some things I can do on my own, at home, to improve my condition?

Noah: Depending on what we discover through the initial evaluation, we will identify the specific muscle groups to strengthen, stretch or coordinate. A home exercise program is provided at the first session and progressed throughout your time of care. Open communication with your therapist is important in reaching your rehabilitation goals.

hand therapistWill I experience pain or discomfort during my visit?

Karen: This will depend on your diagnosis. If you have a condition such as a wrist or finger fracture and are coming out of a cast or brace, the wrist and fingers can be stiff or uncomfortable when motion is initiated. Certified Hand Therapists are trained to respect pain and the healing structures of the injury. Most patients tolerate treatment well & note improvement the first session.

How long will each hand therapy session be?

Karen: Sessions are usually 1-1.5 hours, allowing for one-on-one manual therapy, modalities of heat, ice and ultrasound as needed, and exercises and instruction in home exercises and care.

What are the most common injuries or conditions requiring hand therapy?

Karen: Conditions we commonly treat include fractures (shoulder, elbow, wrist & fingers), tendon lacerations and repairs, trigger finger or trigger thumb, carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome or release, rotator cuff syndrome or repair, deQuervain’s tendonitis, all upper extremity tendonitis conditions, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and infections.

How do you determine what course of hand therapy treatment is best for me?

Karen: During your first visit you will undergo an initial evaluation including questions about your pain, symptoms, functional abilities, range of motion and sensation and strength measurements. Your therapist will identify problems and work with you to set goals. In some instances, your diagnosis may have a set protocol for splint duration and when you will be able to fully move and strengthen your arm/hand. You and your therapist will then review your protocol, goals and plans.

One Comment

  • Jack Mulligan

    I wish I had known about hand therapy back when I broke my thumb. I still suffer from some pain and I wonder if I could still get some relief from therapy. I’ll have to see if I can find a therapist near me to do an assessment.