What is a Hand Therapist?

by | Sep 26, 2018 | General Health | 0 comments

🕓 Reading time: 2 minutes

We welcome our latest guest blog contributor, Karen Fitt, from Melbourne Hand Rehab.

Many of you may not know what a hand therapist is or the incredible work we do.

Hand therapy practitioners are fully qualified physiotherapists and occupational therapists with additional training and experience in hand injuries and conditions.

Through further education, clinical experience and independent study, hand therapists have become specialised in treating hand and arm conditions.

Three Unique Talents of a Hand Therapist

Specialised skills of a hand therapy practitioner include:


A hand therapist’s core skill is making a splint or orthosis to fit your hand.

Your hand therapist will make a splint out of thermoplastic, leather, fibreglass, or neoprene, taking into account your injury and the daily activities you need to be able to do.

Occasionally, your hand therapist may choose to customise a commercially available brace or select an off-the-shelf brace as the best option for you.


Hand therapists work with hand and burn surgeons, meaning they have a range of specialised skills related to the management of skin.

Your hand therapist may remove post-operative sutures, re-dress your wounds, or apply silicone products and compression to scars.


Hand therapy practitioners focus their attention on this one area of the body. As such, they have an enviable level of knowledge that’s hard to find elsewhere.

They can accurately diagnose an injury or condition and treat it with injury-specific rehabilitation and exercises.

Accreditation is a Must

Accredited Hand Therapists are full members of the Australian Hand Therapy Association (AHTA).

The AHTA is the peak hand therapy body. It exists to advance hand therapy by providing professional development through its courses, special interest groups, and annual scientific conferences.

To become an AHTA Accredited Hand Therapist, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist must have:

  • A minimum of three years of full-time experience
  • 3,600 hours of clinical hand therapy experience
  • 300 hours of post-graduate professional development education related specificly related to hand therapy.

No Referral Required

You don’t need a referral to see a hand therapist (unless you are claiming through WorkSafe, TAC or Veterans Affairs).

Having said this, many GPs refer patients to some of our nine locations for specialised treatment.

I or one of my colleagues can help you with a hand injury or condition. If hand therapy isn’t appropriate for your situation, we can refer you to another medical professional for help.

Karen Fitt is the Clinical Director at Melbourne Hand Rehab. She’s also an accredited hand therapist with a special interest and expertise in treating wrist and musician injuries.


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