Cape Byron Medical Centre’s Accredited Hand Therapist Nicola Cook answers the most commonly asked questions…
What is hand therapy?
Hand therapy is the art and science of rehabilitation of the upper limb.
Hand therapy at Cape Byron Medical Centre is the assessment, treatment and management of pain, injuries and conditions affecting the hand, wrist and forearm.
In some places hand therapy clinics also treat the shoulder.
Hand therapy is provided by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who has completed additional post graduate training to give them extra knowledge in this very complex area.
In Australia, if a therapist has studied and worked to a high level in hand therapy and maintained that knowledge through regular ongoing study, they can go through a rigorous process and apply to be an Accredited Hand Therapist.
Who should have hand therapy?
Anyone with any type of hand, wrist or forearm pain or problem should have hand therapy.
What can hand therapy help?
Hand therapy can help people who have broken a bone; torn or injured a muscle or ligament; or had any type of hand or wrist surgery.
It can help with post-op wounds and scars, with tendonitis and other overuse injuries, arthritis and Dupuytrens disease. It can also help with people who have tingling numbness or pins and needles in their hands, or if you just have pain in your wrists or hand or fingers we can help to diagnose what the problem is and guide you on a course of treatment to help.
Do I need a GP referral for hand therapy?
No referral is needed; you can attend hand therapy in a private clinic without any referral.
If you have a health fund with extras cover that they can help pay the consultation fee.
Depending on your condition, you may also be eligible for a health care plan from the GP (which comes with significant rebates), you would need to discuss this with your GP first. If you have consulted a doctor about your problem or if you have a specialist who helps you with your hand/wrist problem, it is really helpful to bring a letter from them about your condition.
Can I get a Medicare rebate for hand therapy?
Yes, but only if you are eligible for a GP Health Care Plan. You would need to discuss this with your GP first. With a Health Care Plan you can get a Medicare rebate for five sessions per year. This rebate covers part of the consultation fee, and there will be a gap to pay.