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Hand therapy: Inclusive care by South African physiotherapists

Monique M. Keller
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 79, No 1 | a1942 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v79i1.1942 | © 2023 Monique M. Keller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 July 2023 | Published: 24 November 2023

About the author(s)

Monique M. Keller, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Parktown, South Africa

Abstract

Hand therapy for individuals who sustained hand injuries is included in the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) physiotherapy scope of practice. The training that physiotherapists receive at the undergraduate level lays the foundation for them to deliver hand therapy or hand rehabilitation according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health domains in a uniquely South African health service context. Further structured formal and informal postgraduate continued education opportunities may put physiotherapists in the ideal position in a multidisciplinary team to deliver optimal hand therapy. The problem is that the physiotherapist’s role in the multidisciplinary team delivering hand therapy in the past two decades has decreased, leaving room for a lack of health professional services in South Africa’s private sector where physiotherapists are often the first consultation in, for example, sports teams, but more pertinently, in the public and rural areas. The International Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy (IFSHT) practice profile and physiotherapy scope of practice, curriculum and education information assist in achieving the aim of this commentary to position physiotherapists in South Africa as primary health practitioners in delivering hand therapy.

Clinical implication: The effective management of individuals with hand-related conditions and injuries is pertinent to ensure optimal hand function and quality of life. Equal continued formal education opportunities should thus be created for all multidisciplinary team professions at a postgraduate level.


Keywords

physiotherapists; occupational therapists; scope of practice; hand therapy; hand rehabilitation; upper limb rehabilitation; curriculum

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