Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne M. Haskins


Hand Injuries -- rehabilitation; Hand Injuries -- therapy


According to Leatherwood (1997), approximately 30% of all emergency room injuries are injuries of the upper extremity, amounting to 16 million hand injuries per year seen in the United States. According to the Arthritis Foundation (2008), an estimated 46 million adults in the United States (21 %) report having doctor diagnosed arthritis. Traumatic injuries and cumulative trauma such as arthritis are two of the diagnostic categories most commonly treated by hand therapists in the United States and Canada (Muenzen et aI., 2002). Often, occupational therapists who specialize in the treatment of clients with upper extremity disorders are responsible for treating persons with the aforementioned diagnoses. Educational backgrounds of these students vary but often include student engagement in an optional hand therapy fieldwork or internship. As these fieldworks are optional, it is obvious that smaller quantity occupational therapy (OT) students engage in these experiences than in required fieldworks and, consequently, it is likely that fewer hand therapy clinics have structure fieldwork protocols for students and fieldwork educators.

Currently, there is no published manual for an OT fieldwork in hand therapy. This scholarly project has addressed the need for a manual for OT students and OT fieldwork educators in a Level II hand therapy fieldwork.

A review of literature revealed a lack of information for OT students in a Level II hand therapy fieldwork. The literature search provided information on competencies of an entry-level hand therapist, diagnostic categories treated by hand therapists, and the VI therapeutic procedures utilized in treatment. The literature search also focused on Level II fieldwork in occupational therapy, including benefits and barriers for OT students, fieldwork educators, and fieldwork sites. We found that OT students identified a need for fieldwork educators to provide structure, clear learning objectives, and student expectations to maximize the student's learning potential and reduce stress throughout a twelve-week Level II fieldwork experience in hand therapy (Mulholland & Derdall, 2007).

Based on the literature findings, a product was developed to guide OT students and fieldwork educators in a Level II fieldwork experience in hand therapy. The information in the manual was selected and ordered according to commonality in hand therapy practice, level of complexity, and relation to other learning objectives being addressed simultaneously. Several hand therapy texts illustrated a similar organization of the material included in the manual (Burk et aI., 2005; Cooper, 2006; Mackin et aI. 2002; Weiss & Falkenstein, 2005). The topics addressed included, but are not limited to, anatomy, measurement, evaluation, physical agent modalities, splinting, simple trauma, complex trauma, and cumulative trauma. The overall goals of this manual and scholarly project were to provide stucture, clear learning objectives, and student expectations for OT students and OT fieldwork educators to maximize the student's learning potential and identify the areas that should be addressed by the fieldwork educator during a twelve-week Level II fieldwork in hand therapy.