Certified Hand Therapy

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational or physical therapist who has advanced training and significant experience in the direct practice of hand therapy and specializes in treating conditions that affect the hands, wrists and upper extremity. The CHT is trained to understand the complex anatomy, physiology, neurology and kinesiology of the hand, wrist and shoulder.

The CHT provides noninvasive therapy, preventive care, and post-surgical rehabilitation for chronic conditions like arthritis, carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome, fractures, Dupuytren disease, frozen shoulders, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow and trigger finger. In addition, they treat the neurological effects of a stroke and injuries that impact hand function. They also educate the patient on how to protect the joint, and may also recommend devices or adaptive equipment to improve function.

The CHT is responsible to evaluate the patient’s condition, create a plan of rehabilitation and treat any problems of the upper extremity. The goal is to prevent dysfunction, restore function and/or stop the disease process or condition, to help the patient return to their best level of function, improve their ability to do daily tasks and fully participate in their lives.

Postoperative rehabilitation is:

  • Management of open and sutured wounds to prevent infection and assist healing
  • Management and control of raised, swollen or hypersensitive scarring
  • Reduction of swelling

Preventive, noninvasive and conservative treatment includes:

  • Pain management
  • Treat desensitization that follows a nerve injury or trauma by reeducating sensory function
  • Design and implement exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity and strength
  • Fabricate splints to prevent or correct injuries
  • Train patients about how to perform daily life skills
  • Conditioning to allow a patient to return to work

The benefits of working with a certified hand therapist include their knowledge of the intricate anatomy of the arm and hand, their understanding of delicate surgical techniques, and their expert training of rehabilitation protocols.

The CHT provides:

  • Accurate assessments, immediate care and effective treatment to reduce the length of treatment
  • Works closely with the surgeon to eliminate the need for multiple providers
  • Quicker recovery and better functional outcomes for faster return to work and life

Therapeutic techniques include:

  • Soft tissue and joint mobilization- stretching, exercise
  • Wound care and scar management
  • Swelling control
  • Custom splint fabrication
  • Pain control
  • Biofeedback- functional retraining
  • Modification of daily activities with training
  • Modalities including heat, ice, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, light therapy, deep heat therapy for arthritis, pain relief therapies with a warm massage to relieve pain and stiffness, while increasing circulation.
  • Manual therapy

Various techniques and tools are available and include exercise programs, custom orthotics, swelling and pain management, and wound and scar care.

The Certified Hand Therapists and the exceptionally talented, compassionate surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County are available to help. We see patients from Greater San Diego County including Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Solana Beach, California.


"The entire team at OSNC is great, very professional and took the time to put me at ease. And I only have praise for the Dr. Erik Stark, a wonderful doctor who never disappoints!" Patient of Dr. Erik Stark
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