Should You See A Certified Hand Therapist?

Apr 13, 2021

Mike Lee

by Mike Lee
PT, DPT, CHT | North Tucson

There are specialists almost everywhere you look, ranging from car audio specialists, window repair specialists, roof coating specialists, computer specialists, and just about every kind of medical specialist imaginable. Chances are if you haven’t met a specialist yet, you probably will. What’s the deal with all of these specialists? Should I see a specialist?  What is a specialist?

The human body is extremely complex.  Due to this complexity, being an expert in every body system is challenging at the very least. Medicine in general, and Physical Therapy as well, has been moving towards increasing specialization. The hand has many moving parts and many muscles, nerves, and tendons all compacted in a small space.  The balanced interaction between all of these elements is both fascinating and complex. We realize that to understand the exquisite complexity of something like the hand, additional time, education, experience, and training are necessary to provide our patients the best possible care.

What are the Requirements to be a Certified Hand Therapist?

Certified Hand Therapists can have either a Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy background.

  • Certified Hand Therapists are rare.

  • There are just over 6,000 worldwide and around a dozen or so currently in Tucson.

  • All Certified Hand Therapists must have a minimum of 5 years of clinical experience, 4,000 hours of hand therapy practice, and successfully pass a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation.

  • In order to stay informed on all of the latest medical advancements and theories, Certified Hand Therapists must also attend continuing education courses and recertify every 5 years.

These requirements are necessary to ensure that we are providing quality care that is both safe and effective.

Should I See a Certified Hand Therapist?

PT, performing therapy to patient's hand.

Certified Hand Therapists, despite the name, aren’t just hand specialists.  We are upper-quarter rehabilitation specialists.  Our certification exam encompasses the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.  This is, in large part, due to the recognition that our body doesn’t function in an isolated manner, but rather in unison with other joints.

Should you see a Certified Hand Therapist?  The short, and admittedly biased answer, is yes.  The question really comes down to a question of value.  Would you rather see someone who treats 5 wrist sprains a month or someone who treats 200?  Is there increased value in seeing someone with more experience with your condition and has board tested and certified knowledge regarding best treatment options for you?  Medical specialties and Physical Therapy specialties have grown over the years because we want to serve you, the patient, better and more effectively.  We want to provide value for your time and money by delivering specialized care for your hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain, injuries, or surgery.

About our Hand Therapy Program

ProActive Physical Therapy offers hand and upper extremity rehabilitation services at 3 of our outpatient clinics. With a staff of certified hand therapists and physical therapists, ProActive has one of the most qualified and experienced hand teams in the greater Tucson area.

Our CHTs are experts in evaluating and treating highly complex hand and upper extremity injuries and conditions. For individuals experiencing pain and/or loss of function in their hand, elbow, or shoulder because of recent surgery, acute injury, or chronic condition, such as arthritis, our CHTs will help guide them towards a full recovery.

ProActive CHTs will work closely with the physician to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days of the injury or surgery right through the patient’s return to work and/or a productive lifestyle.

ProActive Hand Therapists provide comprehensive care for their patients with:

  • Accurate assessments, immediate care, and effective treatment to reduce treatment time
  • A continuum of care eliminating the need for multiple medical providers
  • Faster recovery results with decreased medical costs
  • Functional outcomes ensuring a speedier return to work and a productive lifestyle

ProActive Hand Therapists are uniquely qualified to treat the following conditions:

  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis (tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or trigger finger)
  • Osteo and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Joint replacements
  • Upper extremity sprains/strains
  • Fractures
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

ProActive Hand Therapist’s range of treatment includes:

  • Manual therapy
  • Range of motion
  • Tendon and nerve gliding
  • Desensitization
  • Sensory re-education
  • Strengthening
  • Home exercise programs

Follow the links below to schedule a free assessment at any of our three hand clinics:




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