Letter to Patients

Early in my clinical practice, I became intrigued about the complexity of the hand and wrist and the profound effect that hand, wrist, and elbow pain and injury has on one’s life. I immersed myself in advancing my knowledge and skills in caring for patients with burns, infections, arthritis, fractures, soft tissue injuries, and post- operative therapy for patients who had undergone tendon transfers, tendon repair, microsurgery, joint replacements. I became a charter member of the American Society of Hand Therapists and was one of the first occupational and physical therapists in the US to pass the board certification examination to become a certified hand therapist (CHT). I’ve gained much of my experience working in close collaboration with surgeons who value the importance of having a therapist with advanced knowledge and the gentle touch that doesn’t damage the delicate tissues of the hand.

It is important that my patients are actively involved in their own care. That means that a thorough evaluation is performed on every patient. I listen to my patient’s concerns and address those concerns in the specific treatment goals that we collaboratively develop. To achieve those goals it is important that I educate my patients about their specific diagnosis, the expectations of healing, and recovery.

My passion continues to be about providing top level and specialized treatment to all of my patients by helping them overcome pain and achieve the highest level of function of which they are capable at work, home, and with leisure activities.

Shelly Reichel, OTRL, CHT

Learn more

How long will my first visit last?

Your first hand therapy visit will generally last 90 minutes.

How long will each treatment last?

Your visits will usually last 60 to 90 minutes, depending on your specific needs.

What is Hand Therapy?

Hand therapy is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper extremity of the human body. Hand therapists are occupational therapists or physical therapists who, through extra training and experience, have specialized knowledge of upper extremity function. Using specialized skills in assessment and treatment, hand therapists work with their clients to prevent injury or impairment, restore functional activity, and enhance participation in daily life.*

*Adapted from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission

What is a Hand Therapist?

A hand therapist is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who, through advanced study and experience, specializes in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremity. A hand specialist may also have advanced certification as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT).

What is a CHT?

A CHT is a certified hand therapist. A CHT has met the requirements of the Hand Therapist Certification Commission®, including:

  • Completion of 5 years experience in the profession of occupational or physical therapy
  • Completion of 4000 hours of treatment of hand and upper extremity patients
  • Passage of the national Hand Therapy Certification Exam®
What does a Hand Therapist provide?

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

Postoperative Rehabilitation

  • Management of open or sutured wounds (prevention of infection and assistance in healing)
  • Control of hypertrophic (raised and/or swollen) or hypersensitive scars
  • Reduction of swelling

Preventative, Non-operative, or Conservative Treatment

  • Management of acute or chronic pain
  • Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
  • Sensory re-education after nerve injury
  • Design and implementation of exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity and/or strength
  • Splint fabrication for prevention or corrections of injury
  • Training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
  • Conditioning prior to returning to work

Please see our FAQ Page to help answer any additional questions you may have