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We are excited to announce that our Hand Therapy Program at Missoula Bone & Joint orthopedic clinic now has two hand therapists: Kristin Biggins, OT, CHT and Theresa Brooke, OT, CHT. Hand therapy is a specialty practice in orthopedics that focuses not only on the hand but can include the entire upper extremity. The overall goal of hand therapy is to restore as much return of hand/arm use as possible given the patient’s particular condition. The discipline is practiced by occupational and physical therapists. After treating hand and upper extremity injuries for a minimum of 2000 hours, a therapist is eligible to sit for the hand therapy certification exam, and upon successfully passing the exam, will have the designation of being Board Certified and a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). Our therapists are both members of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Society of Hand Therapists.
CHTs cover a wide variety of orthopedic conditions that can include traumatic injuries and chronic painful conditions, such as joint replacement, tendon/nerve repair, fracture stabilization and amputation, as well as soft tissue trauma. Treatment of these post-op conditions will often require fabrication of a custom orthosis (splint) to stabilize and protect the area during healing. CHTs also treat conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis of the digits, wrist and elbow, inflammatory arthritis, sprains and instability of joints.
If you find yourself requiring the services of a CHT, it will most likely be as a referral from a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Typical hand therapy referrals can include: post op diagnoses affecting the elbow -wrist – digit – thumb, trauma injuries, tendinopathies, strains and sprains, and conservative interventions surrounding diagnoses; like carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. Your experience with your hand therapist will start with a one-on-one interview as part of a comprehensive evaluation for the purpose of putting together a treatment plan. During the evaluation, the CHT may take measurements of movement, strength, swelling, sensory and identify the various symptoms related to your condition.
During your initial visit, you will receive a detailed home exercise program that is designed to advance range of motion and strength, decrease swelling, address scar tissue and manage pain. The therapist/patient experience is a collaborative one, involving discussion about activities, level of hand use, concerns and your goals. There is also ongoing communication with your referring doctor.
If you have any questions about hand therapy and how it can help your condition, please call our therapy department at (406)542-4702. Kristin and Theresa want to help you get back to your daily activities pain free.