A survey on the use of sensibility tests by hand therapists in the UK

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The assessment of sensibility of the hand, a practice often undertaken by hand therapists, is an important aspect of the long-term follow-up of patients with peripheral nerve injuries. Such assessments provide feedback to the patient and referring surgeon, and a basis for clinical decision-making, clinical audit and research. The purpose of this survey was to investigate the choice of tests and methods of application and interpretation of specific sensibility tests among hand therapists and to compare these findings with recommendations from published research. A postal questionnaire was designed to collect descriptive data on the sensibility assessment practices of hand therapists in the UK. A total of 432 questionnaires were posted to members of the British Association of Hand Therapists. The response rate was 52.1%. Assessments of sensibility are undertaken by 70.7% of respondents. Reasons for the choice of tests, their frequency of use and specific method of application and interpretation of sensibility tests were collated. The findings indicate that pragmatic reasons such as the availability of equipment, time and sufficient patients governed the choice of tests among a large proportion of hand therapists, rather than any research evidence. The need for more accessible and evidence-based guidelines, training and practice in the use of tests and better resources were identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Hand Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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