Hospital Offers Hand Therapy

February 1, 2007

Three highly skilled and certified therapists care for outpatients at two centers

Helen Hayes Hospital is pleased to announce that three members of its occupational therapy staff have earned the designation of Certified Hand Therapist. The three specialists treat patients through the hospital’s two Outpatient Occupational Therapy Centers: at the physical rehabilitation hospital in West Haverstraw, and at a satellite Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at Nyack Hospital in Nyack, New York. The three certified therapists are: Lisa Dominick, MS, OTR/L, CHT, Anabel Gomez. OTR/L, CHT and Helen Kadin. OTR/L, CHT.

There are currently only 4,538 Certified Hand Therapists in the entire world, with 85% of them being occupational therapists and the remainder being primarily physical therapists. To become certified, a therapist must have a minimum of five years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy, and must pass a comprehensive exam. In order to keep the certification, hand therapists must demonstrate continued professional development and be recertified every five years.

Hand therapy involves rehabilitation of the upper extremities, from the shoulder down through the elbow, wrist and hand. Therapists evaluate and treat patients with the goal of restoring function, preventing further complications and reversing progression of disability. Certified Hand Therapists can help individuals with a range of disorders, including: tendon or nerve lacerations; fractures or dislocations; rotator cuff disorders; cumulative trauma/repetitive stress injuries; tumors or cysts; vascular disorders; inflammatory and degenerative arthritis; and nerve injuries. As many patients are recuperating from surgery, Certified Hand Therapists are also very knowledgeable in wound care.

The Certified Hand Therapists at Helen Hayes have access to and utilize a range of equipment and techniques, including: fluidotherapy; paraffin wax; warm water pool; assistive devices; splinting; and a computer-based upper limb exerciser to help patients recover full use of their arm and hand.

“Restoring someone’s hand function is tantamount to restoring their ability to function independently on a daily basis,” reports Lori MacLeod, OTR/L, Director of Occupational Therapy at Helen Hayes Hospital. “Our Certified Hand Therapists enable a patient to regain the full use of their hand and arm so they can return to work, sports or leisure activities, or simply feed, bathe, or dress themselves. It is a credit to the hospital and a tremendous service to the community to have this level of expertise on staff,” she states.