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The Gorge Gains its First Certified Hand Therapist!

Published on 7/30/2013
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We’re proud to announce that Kimberly Birk-Fitzjarrald has earned her certification in hand therapy (CHT). Kimberly is an occupational therapist who specializes in hand therapy at Water's Edge Health & Wellness Center in The Dalles, Oregon. Currently she is the only Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist practicing in the gorge area with this credential.

“This credential is particularly valuable to hand surgeons who may choose not to refer a patient to a “generalist” Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist.  It represents a suitable knowledge base and skill to treat complex hand injuries,” Kimberly said.

According to the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, an occupational therapist or physical therapist has to have a minimum of five years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy in order to become a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT).

“It’s a necessary qualification that can help to elevate you as a practitioner above a generalist,” said Kimberly.

In addition, the Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) has to pass an extensive exam of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because the profession changes frequently all certified hand therapists are required to recertify every five years.

certified hand therapist kimberly at water's edge in the dalles, oregon

Pictured Above: When Kimberly isn't treating patients, she's mountain biking in the gorge.

Kimberly's inspiration to become a hand therapist is grounded in helping people regain their independence or return to a specific activity.

“We are dependent on, and take for granted, good hand function. This includes everyday tasks such as eating and dressing, to more complex tool use such as sports, and work,” Kimberley said.

Patients with hand injuries consistently want to regain independence and want to be able to care for themselves.

“The loss of independence is a huge eye-opener and the cause of a lot of frustration.  I like helping people regain their independence and I also like to geek out on the underlying science that makes it possible,” Kimberly said.

To make an appointment with Kimberly or learn more about the Occupational Therapy department at Water's Edge contact us at 541-296-7202.


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