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Hand Therapist
Hand therapists are occupational therapists who have specialised in upper limb injuries. They treat people who have a condition which affects the hands, such as arthritis, and people who have hand injuries. Hand therapists enable patients to regain as much hand function as possible, often teaching them how to perform certain actions again, especially if their injury is very serious and they have lost part of their fingers.

Each patient is briefly assessed and measured. The patient’s hand is gently massaged and specific exercises to improve hand function are practised. If necessary splints are made to support the hand or improve its function. Creativity and biomechanics are required for the making of these splints.
The hand is a very special organ which is easily injured, but can improve with the right care. The exact degree that a joint can move is measured before and after therapy, and this motivates patients to do even more work at home.

Hand therapists work with a large variety of people. Their patients are usually very grateful when hand function is improved, and they often become good friends. It is sometimes necessary for hand therapists to travel abroad to attend congresses and courses, where they get to know people from all over the world who share their passion.

Occupational therapy covers a large field, and hand therapists are easily able to find work locally and internationally.

Satisfying Aspects
- being able to help patients regain use of their hands
- variety and challenge of the work
- opportunities for initiative, innovation and creativity in problem-solving

Demanding aspects
- having problems with medical aid schemes and the Compensation Commission

- enjoy helping people
- emotional stability
- patience and perseverance
- have empathy and a kind heart
- good health and physical stamina
- creative and have original ideas for problem-solving
- practical and have manual dexterity

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, Mechanical Technology

Degree: BOccupational Therapy or BSc (Occupational Therapy) - UKZN, US, UL, UP, UCT, UFS, Wits. The duration of the course is 4 years.

Prospective students as well as qualified therapists must register with the Interim Medical and Dental Council of South Africa.

- general hospitals and clinics
- special schools for physically disabled children
- homes for the aged
- specialised units such as workmen’s rehabilitation units
- self-employment, in own private practice

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300 Fax: (012) 328-5120

Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa
P O Box 1695
Hatfield, 0028
Tel: (012) 365-1327 Fax: (086) 651 5438