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Q: What is Hand Therapy?
A: Hand therapy is the rehabilitation of the upper quarter of the human body (primarily shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand). Hand therapy is a merging of occupational therapy and physical therapy theory and practice that combines comprehensive knowledge of the upper extremity. Using specialized skills in assessment and treatment, hand therapists promote the goals of prevention of dysfunction, restoration of function and/or reversal of the progression of injury or disease in order to enhance participation in life situations for individuals with upper extremity disease or injury.

Q: What is the difference between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy?
A: Occupational therapy primarily focuses on evaluating and improving a person’s functional abilities. An occupational therapist helps a person optimize their independence and ability to accomplish their daily activities following an injury or in situations of physical impairment. Occupational therapy improves life skills and may involve use or creation of adaptive tools or equipment. In some settings occupational therapists focus on the smaller joints of the body and fine motor skills along with patient’s activities of daily living.

Physical therapy is focused on treating a person’s injury itself and on helping to prevent injuries. The physical therapist will diagnose and treat the physical source of the problem; the injured tissues and structures. In some settings physical therapy focuses more on the larger joints of the body and helps the patient regain their ability to ambulate and maneuver.
Although the two health care professions have distinct differences in their focus, there can be crossover between OT and PT. Both occupational and physical therapists are trained extensively on anatomy and the musculoskeletal system and focus on education about the healing process and injury prevention. With insurance companies now focusing more on patient function, both OT and PT address functional issues in their treatment. In some settings like Hand Therapy both OTs and PTs do the exact same form of treatment for their patients.

Q: What types of diagnoses and injuries does a Hand Therapist treat?
A: We treat many diagnoses including arthritis, trauma, work injury, sports injury, amputations, wounds, burns, fractures, tendon injury, nerve injury, open wounds, and pain in the upper extremity.

Q: What types of treatments might be performed in Hand Therapy?
A: Treatments include customized splinting, range of motion exercise, strengthening, work simulation, electro and thermal modalities, wound care, and edema (swelling), pain, and scar management. Patient education regarding splints, adaptive equipment and techniques, and home exercise programs are a large part of our treatment protocol.

Q: How can I be referred to the St. Elizabeth Hand Therapy Center?
A: A physician referral is required to receive Hand Therapy. Any physician can write a referral for treatment to our Hand Therapy Center; it does not have to be a Hand Surgeon or a St. Elizabeth Physician. Referrals can be either brought with you to your first appointment or faxed to our department at (859) 301-5555.

Q: Where should I call to make an appointment and what information should I be able to answer over the phone?
A: You can reach us at (859) 301-5540. Please have your referral available if your doctor did not fax your referral to us. Also, have your insurance information on hand for any questions.

Q: If I have a question about my Hand Therapy bill, what number should I call?
A: If you have questions regarding your Hand Therapy bill please call the St. Elizabeth billing department at (859) 655-4100.

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