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New Zealand Association of Hand Therapists (NZAHT)

The NZAHT was born in 1984 following a Hand Therapy Seminar in Christchurch attended by Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists interested in upper limb injury and disease.

TAGS: Hand therapy, SIG


The NZAHT was born in 1984 following a Hand Therapy Seminar in Christchurch attended by Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists interested in upper limb injury and disease. The aims of the association were identified as establishing a concept of Hand Therapy; to promote expertise in the treatment of hand conditions; and to encourage the sharing of knowledge between Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists with a special interest in Hand Therapy. Over the following months, discussions evolved and guidelines for a membership structure were outlined with an annual membership fee of $10. A newsletter with clinical gems, reviews and information was distributed to members at regular intervals.

The following year hosted the 1st annual conference entitled “Thumbs Up” with a Hand Therapist from Australia as guest speaker. The NZAHT joined the International Federation of Hand Therapists in 1988 which has allowed global networking as well as enhancing Hand Therapy practice worldwide. The NZAHT was officially recognised as a special interest group by the NZSP (PNZ) in 1990.

With many associate members but only one member achieving full membership since 1988, re-evaluation of the membership was commenced and discussions with AUT began to design a post graduate qualification in Hand Therapy. Until this came into fruition in 2008, a Hand Therapy training programme was organised and run by dedicated members annually to ensure baseline knowledge was obtained. To gain full membership the therapist was required to pass an exam, submit a peer reviewed case study and achieve 1800 hours of Hand Therapy experience within a three year period. The Hand and Upper Limb Postgraduate qualification offered through the Auckland University of Technology since 2008 was an achievement for the NZAHT and has proven to be well subscribed to since. The qualification is gained via block learning courses, an extra approved credit paper or a case study, completion of a static and dynamic splinting course, evidence of 1800 work hours over a continuous 3 year period and a letter of recommendation from a New Zealand Registered Hand Therapist or Hand Surgeon.

An ACC working party has been advocating for the NZAHT in its negotiations with ACC since 1998 and keeps members well informed of new developments. An education committee was set up in 2008 to improve access and options for members’ professional development and a research officer was appointed in 2011 to facilitate and support members conducting research.

As of 2012 the NZAHT consists of 145 registered members, 50 associate members, 2 life members and 1 honorary member. The annual membership fee is currently $100. The dedicated executive committee, subcommittee members and administrative assistant work hard to raise the profile of the NZAHT; facilitate a robust training programme and strengthen the communication between members, professional groups and ACC. Since access via the internet and a dedicated NZAHT website has been developed, members are able to access four international journals; engage in forum discussions; and keep up to date with the latest developments in the world of Hand Therapy. Regional special interest groups meet regularly and contribute to the newsletter. A scholarship is available to members to be able to present and at International Conferences. The annual conference continues to be a popular event for members with many well respected international speakers visiting our shores over the years. The latest conference in Dunedin attracted over 100 delegates with the topic “Sense and Sensibility” with guest speaker Birgitta Rosen from Malmo University Hospital, Sweden. The 2013 conference will see us strengthen our international relationships by combining with the Australian Hand Therapy Association, being held in Melbourne.

The committed and pro-active members of the NZAHT will continue to advocate Hand Therapy as a specialist and important aspect of rehabilitation.

 

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