Hand Therapy Residency 

Hand Therapy Residency 

Hand Therapy is the art and science of the upper limb’s rehabilitation, which consists of the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder girdle. Hand therapists provide treatments and education to prevent injury, restore function and/or reverse the progression of certain conditions of the upper limb to enhance an individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks and to participate fully in life situations. 

What is a Certified Hand Therapist? 

According to the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an Occupational or Physical Therapist with at least three years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. Additionally, a Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Every CHT must also demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.  

Certified hand therapists provide a unique service that includes many hours of advanced training and education. We are proud to support the growth of our clinicians who provide this high level of care to patients across the network.

About Ivy Rehab’s Hand Therapy Residency 

We now offer a Hand Residency Program open to all licensed and practicing Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists working for Ivy Rehab.  

This post-professional program has two main goals:  

  1. To prepare clinicians to successfully sit for the Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) exam once they are eligible  
  1. To create advanced-level clinicians in the specialty practice of hand therapy through evidence-based education and clinical mentoring

The Hand Residency is a 12-month program led by Program Director Luisa Aggio OTR/L, CHT, based out of Philadelphia, PA. The program is designed in a hybrid format so any therapist across our company can participate and have the opportunity to elevate their practice. 

Mentorship is a vital part of a successful residency. Residents are paired up with mentors who teach, coach, support, and guide the residents through the program. Our mentors are experienced therapists who have been practicing as Certified Hand Therapists or have 3+ years of experience in hand therapy.

The Hand Residency Curriculum

The upper extremity anatomy is discussed in graduate school; however, most programs do not review complex surgical techniques and wound care treatment for the upper extremity. The Hand Residency Program curriculum, designed by Luisa Aggio, bridges the gap where school left off by providing the skills needed to treat such complex patients. The program also includes the additional certification opportunity of Certificate of Manual Therapy (COMT) for the Upper Extremity and Hand through The International Academy of Orthopedic Medicine (IAOM).

The curriculum includes a combination of self-study, virtual courses, and live, in-person courses as well as time for monthly online meetings for case reviews, journal clubs, and study groups. Virtual courses focus on manual therapy content in preparation for in-person labs, static splinting, and various special topics. The in-person courses include manual therapy labs, certification exams, dynamic splinting, and wound care. Orthosis, or splinting, is a skill that combines both science and art in fabricating custom immobilization or mobilization of the upper extremity. The Hand Residency curriculum was created to include basic foundational skills to more complex and specialized orthosis fabrication to serve every skill level the therapists will enter.  

Leadership Training

Specialty practice areas also require leadership and business skills that aren’t always taught in school. Included in the curriculum for Ivy Rehab’s Residency and Specialization programs, we provide education on leadership and coaching, marketing, and strategy to give our therapists the tools and support they need to build a successful specialty practice.  

Our goal is to have competent and confident therapists who will tackle a specialized field and grow our community of hand therapists to reach the ever-growing needs of our patients.  

Article by: Christina Bentrewicz PT, DPT, OCS and Luisa Aggio OTR/L, CHT

Christina Bentrewicz PT, DPT, OCS, is the Director of Residency Programs at Ivy Rehab. With over 20 years of clinical experience as a Physical Therapist in outpatient rehabilitation and a board-certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, she has a passion for providing and creating opportunities for therapists to provide advanced and specialized care to patients to improve the quality of life of everyone involved in the process.  

Luisa Aggio OTR/L, CHT, has been a practicing Occupational Therapist for almost ten years in the Philadelphia area. She has always had a love and passion for hand therapy and pursued specialization in this area, becoming a Certified Hand Therapist in 2019. She successfully leads multiple clinics with OT/hand therapy departments. She has always enjoyed training and educating new therapists, which has led her to develop the Hand Specialization Program in 2021. She is now the Director of the Hand Residency Program and is very excited to provide this opportunity to the Ivy hand therapists and future CHTs. 

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.

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