The hand therapist's role in the prevention and management of upper extemity injuries in the modern mass production industrial setting

Greg Pitts, Melba Custer, Ryan David Foister, Tim Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: This case study presents the role of an onsite hand therapist (Certified Hand Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist) in an industrial setting and the services that can be provided in this comprehensive care model. Onsite hand therapists can impact on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) first aid programs and can provide state of the art treatment for the injured worker in both a direct and indirect capacity. Purpose: The purpose of this case study article is to review the many potential services the hand therapist can offer to facilitate the return-to-work of injured employees and provide employers with a proactive case management and state-of-the-art ergonomic prevention, improving profit margins and facilitating safe work environments. Study Design: A Case Study design demonstrating the diverse and positive impact of hand therapy on the mass production industrial setting. Methods: Novel to this approach is a description of outcome instruments (QuickDASH) administered in a periodic manner to understand the trajectory of change in patient-level disability throughout the rehabilitation process. The Optimal Screening for Prediction of Referral and Outcome (OSPRO-YF) is utilized to help predict the functional outcome for the injured worker. Case studies on common upper extremity pathologies will be discussed, demonstrating the benefits of onsite hand therapy with enhanced treatment and case management. Results: The utilization of the QuickDASH and the OSPRO-YF creates a process to determine the progression of injured workers in therapy, the trajectory of change in patient-level disability and to observe when changes occurred. An example of the periodic assessment approach is described in a case study to identify when the most significant change occurred and creating a mechanism to determine if patients were progressing as expected. Conclusions: Inherent in this case study process is a fluidity in which the therapist can monitor patient progress and adjust the rehabilitation process that benefits both the patient and the industrial setting. A hierarchical functional level system is presented to describe an appropriate intervention strategy to coincide with a patient's progression of wound healing which can be provided by a hand therapist with specialized knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Ergonomics
  • Hand therapy
  • Industrial rehabilitation
  • Injury prevention
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'The hand therapist's role in the prevention and management of upper extemity injuries in the modern mass production industrial setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this