5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About CHT (Certified Hand Therapists)

By: Marlee Gallagher of EastCity Physiotherapy – A Hand to Shoulder Clinic

This past year has been an exciting and slightly exhausting one for me. In May 2018 I received my certified hand therapy (CHT) designation! During my second year of physiotherapy school, I was lucky enough to have a clinical placement in hands physiotherapy. I was inspired and have wanted to become a certified hands physiotherapist ever since. Here are a few things I learned about CHT along my journey to become one;

  1. Certified Hand Therapist are Regulated
  • All certified hand therapists are registered and regulated through the HTCC (Hand Therapy Certification Commission). The HTCC (2018) requirements for certification are;
    1. at least three years of clinical experience as an/a [occupational therapist or physical therapist],
    2. a minimum of 4,000 hours in direct practice in hand therapy [which means from fingertips to shoulder],
  • and successful completion of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper limb rehabilitation.
  • Below is my personal journey to becoming a CHT,
    • A double bachelor’s degree in science, and Rehabilitative Medicine (taking a combined total of 7 years)
    • 5 years of clinical experience as a physiotherapist
    • 1 full year of INTENSE studying, which in addition to working full time included; countless hours shadowing upper extremity surgeons in clinic and operating rooms, early morning surgical rounds, reading three—very thick, (think approximately 1 foot in height when stacked) textbooks, multiple courses and seminars specific to the upper extremity, and a 4 hour long final examination to prove I know my stuff, with a little blood sweat and tears along the way.
    • I had amazing colleagues, mentors, family and friends to help me along my journey. They are just the best, and I couldn’t have done it without them
  1. Arts and Crafts Are Part of My Job!


CHT can make custom splints (which is an advanced clinical skill). These show stoppers below were made for a volleyball player with a strain of both thumbs. With these splints, the individual could participate in their sport while healing from their thumb strains. *

*Disclaimer not all injuries/splinting will allow for return to sport. Please discuss role of splinting and activity with your certified hand therapist, or qualified medical practitioner.

  1. We Are Rare…
  • There are 6200 worldwide who hold the CHT designation (HTCC, 2018).
  • There are less than 300 CHT in all of Canada
  • There are ONLY 12 in Manitoba (as of June 2018)
  1. We Treat More Than Hands!
  • Certified hand therapists have advanced practice skills in the upper extremity (think fingertip to shoulder and everything in between). Common injuries include repetitive strain, (carpal tunnel, nerve injuries, thumb strain), fractures (broken wrist/hand, elbow), post-surgical (rotator cuff repair, tendon repairs, shoulder replacement) to name a few…
  1. You Don’t Need a Doctor Referral!(if you have one that’s great, we are all part of your health care team)
  • Many of the CHT in Manitoba work in a private practice setting. All physiotherapist are primary health care providers, which means clients have direct access to physiotherapy without a physician referral. You just call and book an appointment! It is a good idea to check with any private benefits (insurance) first, to determine if your plan requires a physician referral for reimbursement.

*Please note: Manitoba health does not cover cost of private physiotherapy, or private certified hand therapy.

Thank you for taking the time to learn all about certified hand therapists and how we can help you! If you wish to book a consult with myself or any of my certified hand therapist colleagues you will find us at EastCity Physiotherapy in the south end of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

2018-10-15T17:43:04+00:00
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