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Who is a Certified Hand Therapist?

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who has a minimum of five years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by recertifying every five years.

How Many CHTs Are There?

There are 5,676 Certified Hand Therapists worldwide:

United States




Australia & New Zealand


US territories & military bases, and other countries


They are broken down by profession as follows:

Occupational Therapists


Physical Therapists


CHTs who are both OT & PT


Definition of Hand Therapy

The definition of hand therapy is based on the study of hand therapy practice conducted by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC) in 2008. Certified Hand Therapists in the United States and Canada responded to a survey that asked questions about practice, the theory and knowledge necessary to perform as a hand therapist, the types of patients seen, and the tools and techniques used. This information was used to revise the original Definition and Scope of Practice of Hand Therapy that was published in 1987. The HTCC Board of Directors adopted this revised definition and scope of practice in March 2009:

Benefits of working with a CHT

People value the use of their hands and any loss of function through injury or accident may have a devastating effect on their lives. Anyone with an injury wants the very best of treatment to assure maximal recovery. The Certified Hand Therapist credential offers assurance to the public that the therapist has achieved the highest level of competency in the profession and stays up to date with practice within the field.

The intricate anatomy of the arm and hand frequently requires very delicate surgery, often with microscopic techniques. The technical complexity of these kinds of surgeries necessitates a high level of competence by therapists with advanced skills in upper quarter rehabilitation during postoperative recovery. Therapists must be knowledgeable about these advanced surgical techniques and postoperative therapy programs to become CHTs. They must also remain current with changes in hand therapy practice.

Certification is voluntary and difficult to attain. It involves meeting rigorous standards, developing a long-range career path, and acquiring the advanced study and training required to pass the certification examination. CHTs are therapists who demonstrated a personal dedication to the profession of hand therapy and a desire for advanced competency; they bring to their work a commitment and dedication to reach and maintain the highest standards in their profession. The CHT credential is recognized by many professional organizations as a benchmark for excellence in advanced specialty credentialing in health care.