RehabVisions Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) Brenda Kreuter, PT had been a practicing clinician for a number of years before she happened upon the world of hand therapy.
Brenda had been covering different clinics when a friend asked her to help out at a hand therapy clinic. The clinic was a new challenge, and she was in the perfect environment to learn.
Physicians were teaching other physicians, and she gained access to a mentor with whom she could discuss and broaden her skills with hand therapy. As soon as patients were out of surgery, she was there learning and following the course of the patient through to hand therapy.
“It’s so rewarding to see people who have had some sort of trauma or problem and to help them regain hand function,” she says.
Brenda enjoys the one-on-one aspect of patient care as well as the variety that CHT encompasses. “As much as we call it hand therapy, it includes the whole upper quadrant,” she said.
She primarily treats upper extremity conditions including fractures and dislocations, tendon nerve laceration, amputations and repetitive injuries such as epicondylitis, cubital tunnel and carpal tunnel syndrome.
This level of specialization is nothing she could have achieved as a new graduate. Physical therapists and occupational therapists must have a minimum of five years clinical experience, including 4,000 hours of direct hand therapy practice, and pass an advanced test on the upper extremity before earning this certification.
For new therapists coming out of school, Brenda thinks it’s nice to know there are specialties out there to be earned as they grow and new paths to discover as their interests change.
“You have to be out in practice for a while and then gravitate towards those certain things that interest you more,” Brenda said.
Learn more about hand therapy on the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) website.