Frequently Asked Questions:

What can a Hand Therapist do for me?

An enormous range of injuries and conditions can affect the hand and arm. Some are common, some are very rare. These problems are usually caused by any one activity (Skirven et al., 2011). Believe it or not you are just as likely to damage a finger doing a forceful, hurried home activity, such as making a bed, or tucking in a shirt, as you are catching a ball (Smit et al., 2010). No matter the nature or severity of the injury, rehabilitation in the form of hand therapy will speed your recovery and quick return to doing the things that you love the most (Slater & Cheshire, 2000).

Here at Northside Hand and Upper Limb Clinic our occupational therapists and physiotherapists focus on only treating hand and arm problems. We have studied the anatomy, injuries and treatments for a wide range of conditions. We keep in direct contact with plastic and orthopaedic surgeons, GPs, Allied Health Professionals and Insurers to enable us to provide specific help for you that is not available in a general therapy clinic.

Our aim is to promote healing and normal patterns of movement while restoring feeling, strength, full movement, endurance and function following accidents, surgical procedures, repetitive strain or sporting injuries, as well as injuries from or before birth and age-related conditions.

  • swelling,
  • scarring,
  • stiffness and
  • abnormal patterns of motion...

can set in, leaving the affected limb weak, painful and potentially non-functional (Skirven et. al., 2002). Why settle for a sub-optimal result when regular consultation with our practitioners can provide you with an individually designed rehabilitation regime aimed at empowering you and facilitating your full return to function?

Northside Hand and Upper Limb Clinic is unique in its ability to offer a wide variety of therapeutic modalities such as electrotherapy and dry needling, exact measuring by way of high-tech electronic equipment and skilfully devised home programs that are monitored and upgraded regularly so as to ensure optimal management from the time of injury to return to full function.


Skirven, T.M., Osterman, A.L., Fedorczyk, J., Amadio, P.C. (2011). Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity (6th Edition). St Louis, USA: Mosby.

Slater, M., & Cheshire, L. (2000). Hand Therapy: Principles and Practice. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.

Smit, J.M., Beets, M.R., Zeebugts, C.J., Rood, A., & Welters, C.F. (2010). Treatment Options for Mallet Finger: A Review. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 126 (5), 1624-1629.



When should I see a Hand Therapist?
If you have had surgery you generally should plan to see the Hand Therapist 3 to 5 days after the surgery. Before 3 days, you are still recovering from the anaesthetic and the potential bleeding needs to settle down in the post-operative bulky plaster and dressings. After 5 days your joints and soft tissues will start to get stiff and will need to be moved via a carefully constructed taylor made rehabilitation programme designed for you. 

If you have not had surgery, you can see us as soon as you are aware of a problem with your upper limb. Most soft tissue conditions respond much quicker and with a better result if they are treated early. Then one of our dedicated and experienced team members will give you the appropriate exercises for your condition. Electrotherapy, wound care and other treatments may also be given depending on your condition.

What will the Hand Therapist do at the first session after my surgery?
The Hand Therapist will remove the plaster and dressings and give you a lighter dressing and make a light weight thermoplastic splint (orthotic device) if it is required. Your hand surgeon or your hand therapist will remove any stitches at 10 to 14 days post-surgery. Future sessions will be timed to best meet your wound care and rehabilitation timetable to optimise your recovery.


  • You do not need to have a referral to see a hand therapist if you are self-funding the therapy.
  • A referral is preferred (but not necessary) if you are privately funded and claiming through your health fund, such as BUPA or Medibank Private.
  • A medical referral is necessary from your treating surgeon, or GP, if you are covered by an insurer such as WorkCover, QBE, GIO, Allianz, AAMI, or DVA
  • You will need to bring with you your insurance details.
  • It is helpful to bring with you any operation notes, x-rays, bone scans and other investigations such as MRI or ultrasounds you may have.
  • We accept referrals under the GP Enhanced Primary Care Plans, but there is a gap between what the Government gives back and our fees. We ask that you pay the full fee at the time of th econsultation and claim your rebate from Medicare by posting or taking your receipt to Medicare.