HAND & UPPER REHAB SPECIALISTS MAKE RECOVERY A REALITY
By Vanessa Orr
How many times a day do you use your hands? If you're like most people, you use them thousands of times, for everything from brushing your teeth to buttoning a shirt, and you never even think about how important this ability is to your daily life.
For some people, however, using their hands or upper extremities is not so easy. Whether affected by a stroke, hurt in an accident, or in pain from a repetitive stress injury or arthritis, these individuals need help to restore the use of their hands to improve their quality of life.
Hand & Upper Extremity Rehab Specialists, Inc., located in McMurray, PA, specializes in the treatment of such conditions. "We work with a lot of trauma, and patients who have repetitive stress injuries that involve a variety of soft tissues like muscle, tendon and nerve" explained Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist David McKenna. "We also work with patients suffering from neurological, fine motor, or sensory impairments".
According to McKenna, hand injuries can happen at any age, and his practice treats everyone from pediatric to geriatric patients who come in with everything from industrial accidents to carpal tunnel or tennis elbow. Wound care in conjunction with protected motion and splinting programs that increase motion for stiff joints are some of the services that are unique to his practice.
McKenna, who first became interested in hand therapy working at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, while serving in the U.S. Naval Reserves, has had extensive experience working with upper extremity patients. In addition to working with the U.S. Public Health Service, Armstrong County Memorial Hospital and Allegheny General Hospital, McKenna passed the national registration exam in 2003 to become a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT), one of only 4,538 in the world.
"To become a CHT requires quite a bit of advanced training," explained McKenna. "You need a minimum of five years clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy." In addition to these requirements, CHTs must also successfully pass a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation, and must re-certify every five years.
"Probably the biggest difference between a CHT and other rehab practitioners is that CHTs have a higher level of education and training in the upper extremities," said McKenna. "We have more specialized knowledge of doctors' surgical techniques, and the therapy protocols that surgeons require." Because the intricate anatomy of the arm and hand frequently requires very delicate surgery using microscopic techniques, it is imperative that CHTs be knowledgeable about these procedures and their postoperative therapy programs to maximize functional outcomes for patients.
Since starting his own practice six months ago, McKenna has helped numerous patients improve upper extremity function. "One reason I started the practice is because I believe quality therapy services require one on one attention. All patients are given a comprehensive home program that we reinforce and progress as appropriate, however, I favor a more hands on approach during therapy sessions which includes a lot of manual techniques and therapeutic modalities," he said. "I never schedule more than two patients an hour and if the patient requires more one on one attention, I will block the entire hour for them."
For more information on Hand & Upper Extremity Rehab Specialists, Inc., call (724) 942-5410.