What is a practitioner in hand therapy?
Practitioners of hand therapy are qualified and registered occupational therapists or physiotherapists who choose to specialise and undertake significant additional training to treat injuries and conditions like arthritis.
Safe health care is a goal of all health practitioners and an expectation of the public.
The AHTA is committed to developing practitioners who are suitably experienced, trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner in accordance with service needs.
Practitioners of hand therapy can be located throughout Australia and the rest of the world and can be found in private practice (sometimes co-located with hand surgeons), in public hospitals and community settings.
Are there different types of practitioners in hand therapy?
In Australia, there are two types of practitioners of hand therapy:
1. Non-accredited practitioners; and
2. Accredited practitioners, known as Accredited Hand Therapists (AHTs).
What is the difference between a non-accredited practitioner and an AHT?
Accredited Hand Therapist (AHT)
When a practitioner completes the AHTA credentialing program of education, mentorship and a minimum of 3600 hours of clinical experience within a five-year time-frame, they are awarded a credential known as the Accredited Hand Therapist (AHT).
AHTs must continue to demonstrate continuous professional development under the strict guidance of the Credentialing Council of the Australian Hand Therapy Association, to maintain this award and their ability to use the title Accredited Hand Therapist. They must also maintain their membership with the AHTA to undertake continuous learning through the education, research, conference, forums, special interest groups and information provided.
AHTs are highly competent and the best practitioners in Australia. Currently there are 360 AHT in Australia.
To find an AHT, refer to Find an Accredited Hand Therapist page on this website.
The AHTA has 550 members nationally that are non-accredited practitioners. Membership with the AHTA demonstrates their committment to continuous learning through the education, research, conference, forums, special interest groups and information provided.
Non-accredited practitioners may:
1. be early in their career in hand therapy;
2. be working towards accreditation;
3. work in settings where they assist with hand therapy but this is not the only work they do. For example, practitioners working in regional, rural or remote areas treat many other conditions as as well as the upper limb and therefore they need to develop expert knowledge in many areas, not just hand therapy;
4. have elected not to become accredited due to the significant cost and time required to undertake the rigorous five-year credentialing program.
Would you like more information?
You can locate an Accredited Hand Therapist on the Find an Accredited Hand Therapist page on this website.
You can also ask your local practitioner about their experience in hand therapy and whether they are a member of the Australian Hand Therapy Association.