Luzum attains highest level of hand therapy certification


CUTLINE: Winneshiek Medical Center is the only facility in the area to offer the highest level of hand therapy to patients.  Jennessa Luzum, MS, OTR/L, CHT (right), recently joined Sarah Groux, MS, OTR/L, CHT, in providing specialized hand therapy to patients with hand, arm, elbow and/or shoulder conditions or injuries at WMC. (submitted photo)




Luzum attains highest level of hand therapy certification


From typing to throwing a baseball to brushing your teeth, your hands and arms impact nearly all your daily activities.  But what happens when they no longer work correctly?

“People value the use of their hands, and any loss of function through injury or accident may have a devastating effect on their lives,” says Jennessa Luzum, occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at Winneshiek Medical Center.  

The certified hand therapist credential offers assurance to the public that the therapist has achieved the highest level of competency in the profession and stays up-to-date with practice within the field. Luzum joins fellow hand therapist, Sarah Groux, MS, OTR/L, CHT, at Winneshiek Medical Center.  

Hand therapy is the specialty of treating upper-extremity (shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand) conditions.  Hand therapists work with patients affected by an accident or trauma leaving them with fractures, wounds, scars, burns, injured tendons or nerves.  

They also treat patients who suffer from the effects of conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, and tendonitis, as well as from chronic problems like arthritis or a neurologic condition (i.e., stroke, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries).  

In addition to treating the condition, certified hand therapists also assess and educate patients on how to modify/improve how they do their daily tasks (playing sports, computer work, gardening) to ensure the best results for their condition.    

Luzum has been an occupational therapist for 11 years and has provided therapy at WMC since 2007.  Through her work, she noticed a need for more access to specialized hand therapy.  

“It has been a personal goal to improve my skills in hand therapy through the official certification process, and increase availability of specialized therapy services in our region,” she said.   

Luzum completed the requirements to become a certified hand therapist in May, which involved over 4,000 hours of hand therapy practical experience and the passing of a rigorous exam on skills and theory. This certification can be attained by an occupational therapist or physical therapist. 

According to the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, there are only 40 hand therapists in the state of Iowa, with the next-closest options for northeast Iowa/southeast Minnesota patients being located in Rochester, LaCrosse or Waterloo.  

Bruce Wulfsberg, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System orthopedic surgeon at Winneshiek Medical Center, said, “I regularly refer my patients to our hand therapy program with terrific results.  Decorah is lucky to have two such credentialed professionals providing hand therapy in our region, so patients don’t have to travel 50-plus miles for quality care.”

“I’m pleased to be joining Sarah in this specialty and look forward to helping more patients improve the use of their hands,” said Luzum.   

For more information on hand therapy, call the Winneshiek Medical Center Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Department at (563) 382-2911.  

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