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Through the lens of a Nepalese Physiotherapist

Written by: Tarannum Siddiqui, Nepal

Everyone has a perspective based on their experiences and knowledge. As every second pass by, we move forward to help each other to achieve our goals. Knowledge is the ocean and skills are like a boat use to fulfil purpose in life. No skill goes in vain provided we are persistent in it.

I am Nepalese Physiotherapist that completed a Masters of orthopaedic Physiotherapy from Ghaziabad, India in 2013. After completion of my academic education, I felt I had achieved an academic gem! But sooner I realized the need of continuing education and skills in hand therapy. After treating hand patients or clients, I found myself lost, where to go and what to do to fill the gaps.

In my academic period, I learned hand anatomy, biomechanics, hand fractures, injuries, assessment and treatment by physiotherapy approach or techniques, but hand therapy involved way more than that what I had learned in my physiotherapy education. I lacked skills needed in hand rehabilitation such as splint fabrication, the role of wound or scar management, sensory evaluation and treatment, measurement of hand strength, treatment progression and other areas that make a major difference in the outcome for the patient’s recovery. Many times, it led to feelings of frustration or agitation for being unable to get desired outcome due to lack of knowledge and skills. Hence, I needed mentorship or some type of fellowship program. However, it would be 7 years before I could have that opportunity because, at that time, fellowship programs were only provided in America or Europe, and it was way too expensive. However, it didn’t diminish my thirst to learn more and with continuous support of colleague, friends, mentors (national and international), online /offline educational programs helped me keep on going on this path.

Then COVID restrictions limited world to travel and affected many in one way or another but, in my personal view, it opened virtual doors of need of education for everybody. Virtual Hand to Shoulder Fellowship, LLC is one of the unique examples of it. I will tell you why it’s unique, but first let me tell you something interesting about hand therapy.

Hand therapy is one of the specialized and blooming fields, not in abroad but also in south Asian countries. A Certified hand therapist (CHT) can be Physical therapist or Occupational therapist who has a minimum of 3 years of clinical experience including 4000 hours or more in a direct practice in hand therapy and has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper limb rehabilitation. Every year CHT Exam is conducted by American board, European board as well as Indian board of hand therapist. Hand therapist demands in increasing day by day, as its one of the extensive education all over the world.

Virtual hand fellowship program is unique as it helped me to go through my basics and beyond. Every weekly quiz and the CHT practice exams helped me to stay with the course and devote my time for study. It gave me a unique platform to study online with students across the world. Whenever, I couldn’t catch live class, the recorded version helped to learn from expertise hand surgeon and therapist in my available time.

Rehabilitation of Hand and upper extremity written by Terri M. Skirven and others, is a 2 volume set book similarly like Maggie in orthopaedics assessment and Sullivan for neurology rehab. It is an essential reference for therapists and surgeons treating hand and the upper extremity and used as a major source of study in this program. This 1 year program helped me to update my knowledge in recent advancement in surgery and rehabilitation protocols through evidence based practice as well as identify my weaker areas in preparation for the CHT exam.

Mirella, is one of the experienced therapist and have extensive knowledge in teaching and mentorship. I remember when I was stuck with one my client’s rehabilitation protocol as the case was complicated and surgeon has done advanced surgery for his ADL, I contacted her for a help and she helped me to think beyond and treat patient confidently. She reminded me about mentorship or case study program included in this program.

If you are struggling in providing hand rehabilitation to the clients or looking forward to develop a career in hand therapy. I recommend this fellowship program to all the physiotherapist and occupational therapist. Definitely the knowledge gained with this program will help you to become one of the expertises in the field.



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