Therapists in the Hand and Occupational Therapy Department at the National Hansen's Disease Center (NHDP) are certified hand therapists, or have knowledge and make use of hand therapy techniques in the treatment of patients. Nowhere is this more important than in management of patients undergoing hand surgery.
Knowledge of specific hand therapy techniques, in addition to generalized therapy, have much to offer in improving the potential outcome of surgery and rehabilitation for difficult problems found in Hansen's disease and other diseases and trauma. A specialty in hand practice began in the United States in 1978, and quickly spread worldwide. This was in response to a developing body of knowledge of therapy needed for surgical procedures of the hand and upper extremity. Therapists have become familiar with specific monitoring and surgical techniques in order to integrate timing and treatment to enhance successful surgical results. Evaluation and timing of treatment intervention before and after surgery, adaptive splinting as coordinated with surgery, remodeling of tissue out of contracture, selective movement and return to use of hands undergoing surgery or recovering from wounds, data collection and review of measurement records all have a direct effect on a patient's functional outcome.
Knowledge developed in the Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at the NHDP has directly added to the knowledge base in hand therapy and in hand surgery and vice versa. Members of the therapy staff are frequently asked to speak at professional meetings outside of the NHDP, participate in training activities and publish on topics dealing with various aspects of rehabilitation.