Job: Certified Hand therapist/Occupational Therapist Piedmont Hospital
What I do: I work with patients who have suffered hand and upper extremity injuries and illnesses that can range from simple to severe. I use manual therapy, splint building, thermal modalities, exercise and education to help the patients meet their goal to return to function.
How I got into this: My mother worked at Lucerne spinal injury center in Orlando Florida. I volunteered the summer of 1981 with the occupational therapists on the Spinal unit and fell in love with the process involved in helping a patient become well. The OTs there fabricated devices and used adaptive methods to help the patients become independent, despite their devastating injuries.
Best part of the Job: When the patient can use their hand for day-to-day activities. We all take our hands for granted, until we are injured. Hand therapy patients feel a tremendous amount of reward and relief when they can return to things that matter such as fishing, playing golf or tennis or even the most rudimentary self- care activities. All these things matter.
Most challenging part: I just celebrated my 25th year as a therapist and each year I am challenged to roll with the changes. We are all facing demands to accommodate to this tumultuous environment and that takes reinventing myself and my goals to still give the patient what they need and work at the pace that is required of me
What people don’t know about my job: OT got its start in, and was the functional mainstay of psychiatric institutions. OT was well known for using basket-weaving and daily activities to help the patients stay “occupied”. We have evolved into a multi-dimensional profession, but have still retained the respect for the psychological needs and considerations of the patient
What keeps me going: Hand therapy is a very gratifying job. Every day I get the chance to wake up and treat another awesome patient!
Preparation needed: A masters in Occupational Therapy, followed by 4,000 hours of training and experience in hand and upper extremity rehab to sit for the hand certification exam. Currently there are 5,900 certified hand therapists in the world.