Hand Therapists within the Multidisciplinary Team

24 October 2017

David Coles gave a great lecture today at Bond University discussing the role Hand Therapists have within the Multidisciplinary Team.

This ​sub speciality of Occupational Therapy works extensively with physiotherapists, medical practioners and surgeons, nurses, case managers and other OTs.. They also liase with psychologists if patients need additional support.

A qualified hand therapist can evaluate and treat any problem related to the hand and upper extremity. This includes; post-operative rehabilitation, preventative, non-operative or conservative treatment or industry consultation. The therapist works closely with the multidisciplinary team and patient to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days of the injury or surgery right through to the patient’s return to work and/or productive lifestyle.

Hand Therapists liase with:

Physiotherapists - when complex hand issues arise physios can contact hand therapists for specialist advice and/or treatment. Sometimes a splint may also need to be customised by a therapist. Hand therapists also work closely with physios as patients often have other injuries that can impact the upper limb and physio support is vital.

Medical Practioners - doctors will often refer patients to see a hand therapist for a customised splint or for an ongoing rehabilitation program. The therapy team will then liase with the doctors to feed back ongoing treatment options and outcomes.

Surgeons - post-operatively hand and upper limb patients often require wound care support, exercises, customised splints and other support processess. Surgeons will refer to a Hand Therapist to provide this service. Also patients that have been referred from a medical practice, once evaluated by a specialist hand therapist, may require surgical intervention and thus the team will liase with a hand and upper limb Surgeon.

Nurses - as this team member is often first on the ground and in constant contact with patients, hand therapists are often called for additional advice. Within the hospital setting, hand therapists will liase with the patients nurse to organise treatment options and plans.

Case managers - these can be in multiple different areas and as a patients core support person, the Hand Therapist team is in constant communication. Information discussed may include treatment goals, timeframes and additional support required.

Other Occupational Therapists - as occupational therapists work across multiple different settings, there is alot of support within the team. A Hand Therapist may provide expert advice to hospital OT's, they may require vocational rehab support or further functional assessments. More information about Occupational Therapists can be found on the OT Australia website

Written by Dee Coles

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