The definition of hand therapy is based on the study of hand therapy practice conducted by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC) in 2008. Certified Hand Therapists in the United States and Canada responded to a survey that asked questions about practice, the theory and knowledge necessary to perform as a hand therapist, the types of patients seen, and the tools and techniques used. This information was used to revise the original Definition and Scope of Practice of Hand Therapy that was published in 1987. The HTCC Board of Directors adopted this revised definition and scope of practice in March 2009.
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.