Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Ways around a problem. Getting into Hands.

Greetings from lock down. Over the past couple of weeks I have listened to a number of webinars and participated in two. A quick shout out to the team at HandSpark, Beth and Ngaire for their initiative in creating the hand therapy summit with 9 speakers over 3 days. It has been well worth tuning in to. 

Beth & Ngaire from HandSPARK

I have also been involved with an Introduction to Hands webinar that the Australian Hand Therapy Association did last weekend, and also one on Hand Injuries to the musician and Athlete that I did with Karen Fitt from Melbourne Hand Rehab for the students group at the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Whilst both presentations provoked a range of questions from the participants, a common one was "how do I get into hands?". 

It's a tricky question to give an answer to as there is no consistently direct pathway. We no longer have a post graduate course in Australia due principally to bean counters at the universities, not due to lack of support from potential teachers or students. Several private groups have stepped into the breach, and alongside the education offered by the AHTA, there are now private graduate fellowships and workshops available. Travelling overseas was how I found my way in, but will that be an option for others? Maybe not for a while. What else... 

Lots of great courses here...

In a flash of laziness, I remembered the podcast I did with Jack Williams some months ago now in pre-COVID days. He  had followed up with a summary of our conversation with an emphasis on that very question that I always intended to publish, but never did.

Here then is a guest piece by Jack Williams. Please do have a listen to his podcast especially if you are a young therapist on the cusp of, or just starting your career because he talks a lot about opportunity and how you can shape your direction and path. Thank you Jack...

Hello Sporting Hands readers...

I first came across Hamish's blog in 2017 as a student physiotherapist and thought it was a great learning resource which really helped me whilst I was on a hospital orthopaedic / hand therapy placement. 

Hard to find a photo of Jack

I really enjoyed our chat and I promised Hamish to make a contribution to the blog which has proved very helpful over the years! I thought I would leave the sporting injuries to the experts and write about getting experience in hand therapy as I recently hosted a podcast with Hamish talking about this very subject...

You can listen in to the podcast here...

https://linktr.ee/Healthlinkd

I am fascinated with Hand Therapy for many reasons...

  • Did you know Brian Mulligan’s “apple on the head” moment for the development of his mobilisation with movement manual therapy techniques occurred when he was working with a stiff PIPJ?
  • Splinting is widely considered the defining factor of a hand therapist - but as Hamish says - splinting skills constitute a very small proportion of the job!
  • Hand therapists have a specialised knowledge of physiology, anatomy, neuroscience and orthopaedic knowledge which is unrivalled by other spheres of OT and physio.

Maybe this is why getting a position in hand therapy is so competitive... these skills are not taught at university and private practise educators and mentors are hard pressed for time to impart such knowledge...

Which brings me to the point of this article…

What are some things a student or new graduate OT/PT can do to get a training position in Hand Therapy?

The AHTA runs a number of special interest groups in each state, getting along to as many of these as possible is a fantastic learning opportunity and also good for networking... as a student it is recommended that you find out where your nearest SIG group is and get along!

Approaching a private practise as a student and doing some observation is a good way to get your foot in the door and learning about what is required for a private practise role. If you are volunteering for a period of time - this should not exceed more than a few months and be sure to make yourself a part of the team’s professional development in-services and other learning opportunities.

There are also a lot of overseas training in hand therapy available in the UK. Hamish first started working in NYC as a hand therapist and also notes that many early career and experienced OT / PT's are able to find hand therapy training positions and work in London and other parts of the UK.

The AHTA also runs a number of courses for OT/PT's who are interested in training in hands - they are for people looking for professional development in hand and upper limb MSK and students and new graduates are welcome to attend - even without much experience in hands... getting started early with one of these courses will stand out on your resume - particularly with the new pathways for 'Accredited Hand Therapist' come into play and both private practise and public employers value this certification for leadership positions for hand therapists.

The are many exciting prospects in the future for Hand and it is certain that this area will remain distinct moving into the future... Hamish also talked about what is in store for hand therapy on the podcast as well as 3D printing of splints and places for hand therapists in professional sports... You can listen in here...

@Healthlinkd | Linktree

It was great to visit the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and put a face to a familiar blog...

Thanks again for coming on the podcast Hamish!

Jack

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