A major focus of occupational therapy is rehabilitation related to impairments of the upper extremity (shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand) and 85% of certified hand therapists are occupational therapy professionals. But whether in a specialized hand clinic or general rehabilitation clinic, the role of occupational therapy in upper extremity rehabilitation is to return the client to meaningful participation in his or her daily activities.
Upper extremity disability can result in disruption of many, if not all, activities of daily living. OT professionals receive a strong educational component in psychosocial development and pathology. This provides the basis for understanding the impact of upper extremity dysfunction on key daily activities and roles. Course work in mental health gives OTs the skills to evaluate clients' psychosocial and emotional needs, modify the treatment approach to facilitate compliance with the rehab program, and promote the best outcome possible.
Because of the holistic, client-centered approach of OT, clients are met at their current level of function. Through activity analysis, the OT is able to address each client's priorities, along with his or her pathologies, with activity modifications and compensatory techniques to facilitate performing at his or her greatest level of independence from the start, and at every step of the rehab process. This independence encourages the integration of the affected upper extremity as soon as possible, thereby making the journey to maximal function seamless.