“My work entails helping anyone who, for whatever reason, can't do the things in life they want or need to do,” said Smith. “When I meet with a patient I listen carefully to their needs and think critically about each situation. My work can include specialized occupational therapy to help an individual return to their normal lifestyle following a major surgery such as fracture or tendon repair to helping someone learn the skills they need to live an independent, satisfying and productive life after a permanent impairment such as a stroke or a disability.”
Problem-solving is the essence of the work of occupational therapy. “We are all problem-solvers; every moment of the day we are responding to the many “life” situations that our patients face,” said Smith. “These can be situations involving how to use their hand again following an injury to complete daily self-care, household or work chores, play a sport or musical instrument, gardening or return to driving.”
Becoming a certified hand therapist
Smith enrolled at Utica College of Syracuse University in upstate New York in 1992 to study occupational therapy. He began working at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in 1998 and subsequently became specialized in hand therapy. “This year I’m celebrating my 10 anniversary as a Certified Hand Therapist,” said Smith, who is one of the few Certified Hand Therapist in the area.
A Certified Hand Therapist is recognized by many professional organizations as a benchmark for excellence in upper extremity rehabilitation. These specialists are a part of an exceptional group of Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists who have a minimum of five years of clinical experience, including at least 4,000 hours of direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, Certified Hand Therapists must pass a comprehensive test which measures their advanced clinical skills and knowledge of theory in upper extremity rehabilitation. When certified, the hand therapist is allowed to put CHT after his/her name. This distinguishes an occupational therapist or physical therapist as someone with the highest professional credential in the specialty of upper extremity rehabilitation.
“When someone experiences an injury or medical condition of the upper extremity it can have a serious impact on how they function in their home and work,” said Smith. “These injuries can affect the way they care for their personal needs, perform their jobs and participate in athletic and exercise activities. The intricate anatomy of the arm and hand frequently requires very delicate surgery, often with microscopic techniques,” noted Smith. “The technical complexity of these kinds of surgery often requires advanced skills in upper quarter rehabilitation.”
“At the end of the day, I find great satisfaction in knowing that I have helped to solve a problem that will allow my patients to go about the activities they love to do,” said Smith.
Working together for your care
Kevin Smith is an integral part of the Rehabilitation team at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital which includes physical therapists, an occupational therapist, speech/language/swallowing pathologist and audiologist. Together they provide a full range of rehabilitation services to help patients regain function and achieve recovery.
For more information about Rehabilitation Services including Occupational and Hand Therapy Services at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital call (413) 967-2180.