The Australian Hand Therapy Association Inc. (AHTA) is Australia’s professional association representing hand therapists. Hand Therapists are Registered Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists who, through further education, clinical experience and independent study have become proficient in the treatment of upper limb conditions resulting from injury, disease or deformity.
AHTA also acts as a central referral point for doctors and members of the public seeking the services of Hand Therapists in specific geographic locations.
Occupational Therapy Australia is the national professional association representing occupational therapy in Australia. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. They work to enhance individual’s ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, often by modifying the occupation or the environment to support those goals. Occupational Therapists are employed in hospitals and other community centres or in private practices.
In Australia, Occupational Therapists’s who work with children with hand differences may have specialist training in hand therapy or paediatrics, depending on the reason for referral.
What is 3D printing?
The most common sort of 3D printer called a fused filament fabrication works a bit like a hot glue gun, taking in solid plastic filament at one end and pushing our melted plastic to create layer upon layer until a 3D object appears.
What can 3D printing offer to people with hand differences?
3D printed technology offers new alternatives for people with hand differences. This includes hand prosthetics and gadgets to help with specific tasks (for example, to help hold a skipping rope or to play an instrument). 3D technology has advantages in that the printing process is quick and very cost effective. For example, a 3D printed hand can be printed overnight and cost less than $20 to make compared to a prosthetic one which can cost many thousands and take month to produce. This is good in terms of children who can grow out of prosthetics quickly. And if you have access to a 3D printer you can even print your own hands. There are many designs available online for free. The downside of 3D printed hands is that they have a limited lifespan and may need to be repaired at times if something breaks.
Aussie Hands liaises regularly with Mat Bowtell who provides free 3D printed hands and gadgets. To find out more about his work and how to support him, visit Mat’s Free 3D Hands website or Facebook Page
The Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association Ltd (AOPA) is the professional body representing orthotist/prosthetists within Australia.
Orthotist/prosthetists are trained to prescribe, design, fit and monitor orthoses and prostheses. A prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces a missing body part which may be lost through trauma, disease, or congenital conditions. They are custom made and individually fitted by prosthetists/orthotists. For hands, devices include small static prostheses such as artificial fingers and larger moving prostheses such as myoelectric hands.
An orthosis or splint is an externally applied device used to support or modify the structural and functional characteristics of the existing neuromuscular and skeletal system. These are most often custom made by an Allied Health practitioner such as Hand Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Orthotists and Prosthetists.
Children who require prosthetics and orthotics need to have them replaced regularly as they grow.
Prosthetic and Orthotic/Splinting Products
There are several private Australian companies that supply related products to the Allied Health industry in public and private treatment facilities. Contact your Doctor or Allied Health practitioner for further information regarding your orthotic/splinting requirements.
Life-like Silicone Prostheses
There are services such as those below that manufacture and custom fit these prostheses in Australia. Your Surgeon, Doctor or Allied Health practitioner can advise on any benefit that these may have for you.
- Michael R. Greve, camouflage Prosthetist
- Northern Prosthetics
- APC Prosthetics
- Otto Bock Prosthetics