Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


There are a substantial number of Certified Hand Therapists reaching retirement age in the next decade, however, there are few newer graduates who are pursuing this specialty. Students’ lack of clinical knowledge has shown to be a barrier to successfully completing a hand therapy fieldwork affiliation. The purpose of the study is to investigate: (1) the perceptions of the clinicians working in hand therapy and students regarding the integration of hand therapy content in entry-level occupational therapy programs, and (2) the perceptions of both groups as to which content is deemed essential for a successful hand therapy fieldwork placement. This study utilized a survey design. Data was collected from 207 clinicians and 25 students via SurveyMonkey. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi-squared analysis, and t-test analysis via R studio statistical software. Participants placed the highest emphasis on foundational knowledge when ranking topic importance, which included muscular anatomy, skeletal anatomy, nervous system anatomy, palpation, and surface anatomy. Greater than 90% of participants (n=186 clinicians; n=23 students) also felt topics including kinesiology, biomechanics, tissue healing principles, fractures, tendinopathies, goniometry, and orthotic fabrication and training were very important to student success in hand therapy. Results also indicated that the greater number of students a clinician supervised, the higher they ranked student knowledge and skill level (p=.02). These clinicians also reported stronger feelings that students would benefit from additional hand therapy curriculum content (p=.053). Further study of the variability among occupational therapy curricula may be warranted, as well as studying the knowledge level needed with certain topics, and the level of independence needed with specific clinical skills to promote success in hand therapy.


Lauren Fiori, OTD, OTR/L, CHT is an adjunct faculty member at Quinnipiac University, teaching in the entry-level MOT and OTD programs. She graduated with her Post-Professional OTD in 2023 and is a certified hand therapist currently working in outpatient orthopedics. She has a strong interest in both hand therapy and academia.

Karen Majeski, OTD OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at Quinnipiac University and teaches research and innovative emerging practice courses in the Post-Professional OTD program. Her clinical background is in school-based practice with an emphasis on Transition Services and Assistive Technology. Her current scholarship focus is on postsecondary transition and functional cognition.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.