Barb Duff, Physiotherapist working with a hand patient at Richmond Hospital.

Physiotherapist profile: certified hand therapists

May is National Physiotherapy Month. To celebrate, the 400 VCH physiotherapists and rehabilitation assistants would like to share what they do every day.  From highly specialized acute care settings in Vancouver to small rural community settings in Bella Coola, VCH physiotherapists and rehabilitation assistants treat a wide range of people and conditions. This week, we are highlighting our hand therapists.

Hand therapists

Certified hand therapists are physiotherapists who specialize in injuries to the upper limb including the hand. To become certified, they must undergo specialized training and examinations.  Interventions include client education, wound care, scar and swelling management, joint or soft tissue mobilization, desensitization, custom splinting, strengthening, functional activities, return to work planning and job site assessments.

Richmond, Lions Gate and Vancouver General Hospitals have physiotherapists that are part of an interdisciplinary team that treat patients with complex hand injuries predominantly on an outpatient basis through programs such as the Worksafe BC Hand Therapy Programs.  From the ability to grip, exhibit the finesse of a concert pianist, manipulate small objects with great precision, or just carry out day to day functions such as eating and writing, the hand and upper arm are one of the most complex and beautiful pieces of natural engineering in the human body.  A loss or injury to this area presents many functional problems and it is the physiotherapist’s job to identify and work together with the patient to regain function.

The hand therapist team with a patient at Lion’s Gate Hospital.


Contact the VCH Physiotherapist Practice Support Leadership Team (internal link).