Hand Therapists Help Patients to Reach their Goals

When we consider how often we use our hands – from driving a car and swinging a golf club to hammering nails and brushing our teeth – it’s easy to understand why common injuries such as fractures and tendon lacerations often are devastating occurrences.

And anyone who has had tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome or trigger finger knows the pain these ailments can cause by repetitive activities such as texting, typing and routine chores.

Susan Rimmel, OTR/L, CHT; John Wilczek, OTR/L, CHT, and Kimberly Kress, OTR/L, CHT, are Certified Hand Therapists at The Hand Clinic at Jefferson Regional Medical Center who treat patients for injuries and ailments.

Certified hand therapists are a valuable resource for patients requiring hand and upper extremity rehabilitation, according to Aaron Grand, MD, a plastic surgeon at Jefferson Regional. Dr. Grand and Marshall Balk, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, have specialty training in hand surgery and often refer patients to the Hand Clinic. Jefferson Regional is able to treat many patients with expert care due to the capabilities of its three hand therapists.

“We treat a large variety of hand problems, including broken bones, nerve injuries, tendon injuries, cancerous conditions and arthritis. Carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, fractures of the hand and wrist, and arthritis of the thumb are probably the most common,” says Dr. Grand.

“The small joints of the elbow, forearm, wrist, and fingers get very stiff very quickly and require the specialized training of a hand therapist. Certified Hand Therapists are the specialists best trained to provide these kinds of treatment for patients with hand problems.”

In addition to their expertise and training, the hand therapists' creativity, passion and persistence allow patients to regain the function of their hands, and therefore return to their pre-injury lives.” – Aaron Grand, MD


Dr. Grand says the special relationship that he and Dr. Balk have with the hand therapists at Jefferson helps to speed patients’ recovery and maximize their function. For some patients, customized splints fabricated by the professionals at the Hand Clinic help to achieve optimal outcomes after surgery, or to avoid surgery entirely. The custom splints are designed to protect specific areas of the elbow, wrist or hand, to allow motion only in specific joints, or to improve function with adaptive equipment.

“Customized splints are more effective than manufactured splints because they are molded to fit a patient’s unique hand or arm size,” says Wilczek. “Certified Hand Therapists have advanced knowledge of the hand and arm and the ability to make a variety of custom splints, which ultimately leads to a better outcome for the patient.”

Our comprehensive Outpatient Hand/Occupational Therapy Services include:

  • Custom splinting, fabricated onsite.
  • Therapeutic modalities, such as paraffin bath, whirlpool and ultrasound.
  • Individualized evaluation and treatment plans.
  • Therapeutic exercise to increase range of motion, strength and function.
  • Adaptive equipment training.

“Our patients receive individual treatment by highly skilled therapists,” says Rimmel. “We also focus on patient education so they can manage their symptoms and recovery on their own.”

For more information about hand and upper extremity rehab services at Jefferson Regional Medical Center, call 412-469-5192.

Also read our related article, Occupational Therapy: Achieving Independence, which was also published in this issue of Your Health Matters.

Jefferson Regional Medical Center
565 Coal Valley Road
Jefferson Hills, PA 15025

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