What is Hand Therapy

What is Hand Therapy:

Hand therapy is a specialty practice area for Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.

“Hand therapy is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper limb, which includes the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder girdle. It is a merging of occupational and physical therapy theory and practice that combines comprehensive knowledge of the structure of the upper limb with function and activity. Using specialized skills in assessment, planning and treatment, hand therapists provide therapeutic interventions to prevent dysfunction, restore function and/or reverse the progression of pathology of the upper limb in order to enhance an individual’s ability to execute tasks and to participate fully in life situations”

Definition and Scope of Practice of Hand Therapy, The HTCC Board of Directors, March 2009.

What is a practitioner of Hand Therapy?

An Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist who, through further education , clinical experience and independent study has extensive knowledge and has become proficient in the treatment of hand and upper extremity conditions resulting from injury, disease or deformity.

In 2010, the education committee of IFSHT developed an International Hand Therapy Clinical Practice profile.This document is intended to be a reference document that provides an overview of the ‘Practice of Hand Therapy’ from an international perspective outlining:The advanced knowledge

  • Clinical practice skills
  • Core competencies
  • Types of upper extremity problems / dysfunction

that relate to specialised hand therapy clinical practice.

Click here to download the IFSHT Hand Therapy Profile

Hand Therapy Credentials:

Therapists working in the area of hand therapy can choose to pursue specialty certification. Certification is voluntary and difficult to attain. It involves meeting rigorous standards, developing a long-range career path, and acquiring the advanced study and training required.

Irish Certified Hand Therapist (ICHT)

We have established our own credentialing process in Ireland in 2022, “Irish Certified Hand Therapist”(ICHT) based on having completed either the Hand Therapy Certified Commission (HTCC) or The British Association of Hand Therapists processes.

How to become an ICHT:

Quick scan: Go to Checklist ICHT

Once you have gained national accreditation, you are eligible to apply for European certification with the European Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy (EFSHT). Visit www.eurohandtherapy.org for further information.

1. CHT Credentials (Certified Hand Therapist – established by the American Society of Hand Therapists, first exam 1991)

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who has a minimum of three years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.

In 2005, the IAHT successfully negotiated for any occupational therapist or physiotherapist practicing in hand therapy in Ireland to be eligible to apply for the CHT certification, along with other countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Great Britain. This was a very exciting progression/recognition of our practice.
For more details check the HTCC website: www.htcc.org

List of Certified Hand therapist practicing in Ireland and year of certification.

  1. Maria Bevan, Senior OT, SIVUH Cork(2023)
  2. Emma Buckley, OT. Cork Hand Therapy, Cork(2018)
  3. Jean Cahill, OT. The Hand Therapy Clinic, Pearse St, Dublin(2021)
  4. Emma Carr, Senior Physiotherapist St Vincent’s hospital (2010, renewed 2015, 2020)
  5. Gillian Gavaghan, Clinical Specialist OT, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin (2021)
  6. Olga Hill, Clinical Specialist, OT AMNCH (2012, renewed 2017, 2022)
  7. Roberta Laherty, Physio Blackrock Clinic, Dublin(2021)
  8. Ann Madigan, Senior OT, Cork University Hospital. Cork(2018)
  9. Katie McGuire Physio, Blackrock Clinic, Dublin(2020)
  10. Louise Murray, Clinical Specialist Occupational therapist Beaumont Hospital (2014, renewed 2019)
  11. Mary Naughton, Clinical Specialist Occupational therapist Beaumont Hospital (2000, renewed 2005, 2010, 2015, 2020,)
  12. Michelle O’Donnell, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, St James Hospital (2012, renewed 2017, 2022)
  13. Annette O’Driscoll, Senior Occupational Therapist Cork University Hospital (2008, renewed 2013, 2018, 2023)
  14. Kylie O’Grady, Clinical Specialist OT, St Vincent’s hospital(2015, renewed 2020)
  15. Geraldine O’Loughlin, Physio, Bons Secour hospital, Cork.

2. Accredited Hand Therapist

The British Association of Hand Therapists has developed a system of accreditation of hand therapists’ learning and experience, leading to the award of ‘Accredited Hand Therapist’.

Hand Therapists may develop their knowledge and skills via BAHT validated courses at different levels. BAHT validated courses qualify for points towards becoming an accredited hand therapist.

More experienced therapists may choose to submit evidence of prior learning (APL) to gain BAHT points, or gain educator points through lecturing on validated courses.

For more details check their website: http://www.hand-therapy.co.uk

List of Accredited Hand Therapist’s practicing in Ireland:

  1. Jean Cahill, OT. The Hand Therapy Clinic, Pearse St, Dublin 4(2013, renewed 2019)
  2. Emma Carr, Senior Physiotherapist St Vincent’s hospital, Dublin (2023)
  3. Orla Daly, OT Limerick University Hospital(2022)
  4. Deirdre Harmon, Senior OT, The Louth Co. Hospital(2019)
  5. Olga Hill, Clinical Specialist, OT AMNCH, Dublin (2022)
  6. Shane O’Carroll, Clinical Specialist OT, Waterford 2020