This article originally appeared in Pathways, a magazine
published for physicians and the community by UMass Memorial Medical
The high number of patients seen at the UMass Memorial Hand Therapy Center -
between 60 and 90 per day - speaks volumes about the available experience and
expertise. Staffed by nine, seasoned occupational therapists specializing in the
hand and upper extremity, the center offers a full spectrum of therapeutic
resources in a single, convenient location.
"In fact, our location is a
real advantage," said Lynn Fors, OTR/L, CHT, manager of the center. "We're right
down the hall from the Hand and Upper Extremity Center, so there is a real
continuity of care since we have such a close working relationship with the hand
surgeons and streamlined access to them."
Patients also have fast access to the center itself. "We offer same-day
urgent care, so patients can be scheduled for an initial evaluation within 24
hours," Ms. Fors said. "Evaluation and treatment, however, do require a
physician referral," she added.
Ms. Fors and her team of hand therapists provide a wide range of services
from assessment and testing, to rehabilitation for acute and chronic conditions,
from the simple to the complex. They also offer return-to-work and
work-hardening programs, and perform Greenleaf evaluations, a quantitative
assessment of disability for Workers' Compensation. In addition, the center does
customized splinting since, as Ms. Fors noted, "One size does not fit all."
"The majority of cases we see are trauma, such as fractures, dislocations,
amputations and soft-tissue injuries," she noted. "But we also see complex pain
syndromes, infections and cumulative traumas. Our therapies are all
evidence-based and reflect what's current in the literature, so our patients
receive state-of-the-art care.
"Education is also a big part of everything we do, teaching patients how to
prevent re-injury or surgery," Ms. Fors added.
The Hand Therapy Center also is involved in an outcomes research project with
UMass Lowell. The center is using the Quick DASH outcomes measurement tool to
collect data on all upper extremity patients. "We know that our care is
producing excellent outcomes for patients," Ms. Fors noted. "With these types of
research projects, we'll soon have the quantitative data to prove it."