Treatment & Disorders

Occupational / Hand Therapy

Occupational therapy, “OT”, is similar to physical therapy by definition, but different in concept. Both types of rehabilitation help people regain the skills and movement necessary for functioning independently, but the majority of occupational therapists treat hand-and upper-extremity injuries, neurological and neuromuscular injuries, conditions such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.
Occupational therapy focuses on critical activities of daily living such as bathing, eating, grooming, dressing, cooking driving, cleaning, and getting into and out of bed. In the outpatient setting, occupational therapists are much more likely to be found working with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular injuries and conditions of the upper extremity (arm).

Our occupational therapists receive specialized training in hand therapy and treat injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, DeQuervain's syndrome, fractures, tendon or nerve injuries and burns. Treating these types of injuries may involve an exercise program, splint fabrication, skills training, work modification and wound care management.

At the Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Centers, Rogers City Physical Therapy, Indian River Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine and Cheboygan Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, our occupational therapists specialize in the treatment of hand and upper-extremity injuries such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Burns 
  • Pain
  • Congenital anomalies 
  • Dupuytren's contractures 
  • Flexor and extensor tendon repairs 
  • Fractures/dislocations 
  • Nerve involvement/repairs
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy 
  • Sports injuries 
  • Tendon transfers
  • Crush injuries
  • Wound care
  • Lymphedema 
  • Amputations

Repetitive motion injuries such as:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • DeQuervain's syndrome 
  • Epicondylitis
  • Trigger finger 
  • Tendinitis/Tenosynovitis 
  • Ganglion cystic tumor
  • Cubital tunnel

Neurological disorders such as:


  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • ALS - Lou Gehrig’s Disease 

Work Injury Rehab

  • Work hardening
  • Functional capacity evaluations 
  • Joint protection techniques
  • Energy conservation techniques
  • Adaptive equipment

What To Expect From Your Occupational Therapy Program

The goals of your occupational therapist are twofold:

  • To relieve your symptoms and pain
  • To return you to your maximum ability and independence as quickly and safely as possible

Depending on your injury, your occupational therapy program will consist of different types of exercises and treatments. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Evaluation and individualized therapeutic programs
  • Range of motion 
  • Strengthening program 
  • Desensitization and sensory re-education 
  • Hands-on (manual) therapy 
  • Modalities for pain control 
  • Custom splint fabrication (static and dynamic) 
  • Edema (swelling) control
  • Scar management
  • Pain control
  • Muscle re-education 
  • Work simulation exercises 
  • Adaptive equipment 
  • Daily living skills 
  • Joint protection techniques
  • Injury management / prevention programs

Every patient and the nature of his or her injury or condition is unique, therefore therapy treatment plans vary for each patient. Our therapists will tailor your rehabilitation according to your specific needs and abilities, as well as directives given by your physician.

Treatments such as electrical stimulation,  heat, ultrasound, paraffin, and whirlpool help to alleviate pain and inflammation. Active treatments such as muscle re-education, strengthening, work simulation exercises, and daily living skills aid in restoring function.

Occupational therapy visits are prescribed by your doctor and authorized by your insurance or managed-care plan. Depending on your diagnosis, the duration of treatment may vary from several days to four-to-six weeks.

Your rate of recovery will depend upon several factors, including:

  • Your motivation level and compliance to therapy
  • Your age 
  • Your physical condition 
  • The type and severity of your injury

Recovery from an injury or painful and debilitating condition requires commitment to your therapy program. It is typical to feel better after a few visits to therapy and to think you do not need to complete your treatment plan, or that you can do it on your own at home. However, each and every visit is important to your recovery; strengthening and work simulation under the guidance of your therapist in the latter half of your treatment plan is just as critical as mobilization and range of motion in the beginning.

Recovery takes time, rest and patience. You and your therapist are partners in your rehabilitation. Here are a couple of tips to help you maximize the benefits of occupational therapy:
Follow your therapist's directions, but be careful not to "overdo it." Exceeding the amount of stretching or strengthening as recommended by your therapist may actually re-injure the joint, muscle or soft tissue. Let your therapist know if you are sore or in pain, either during or between visits. Good communication will enhance your rehabilitation and recovery process.

Preparing for Each Visit

  • Be prepared to start your therapy on your first visit. Also remember to,
  • Bring your physician referral on your first visit. 
  • Wear a shirt with loose-fitting sleeves. 
  • Expect each visit to last from one to two hours. 

Our therapists, in conjunction with your doctor, will determine how often you should come.

Occupational Therapy is a Master’s program.  Our Occupational Therapists have passed a national board certification test and must remain current with continuing education in order to maintain state registration.


Our Occupational Therapy Hand Program is located at our Indian River and Cheboygan locations.

Quick Contact

Home office Petoskey West Clinic
Phone (231) 347-9300        Email
Petoskey East (231) 348-7950
Harbor Springs (231) 348-7002
Charlevoix (231) 547-0380
Boyne City (231) 459-4750
Indian River (231) 238-4880
Cheboygan (231) 627-7201

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Petoskey, Petoskey East & Boyne City

Our Petoskey clinic is located within the Bay Street Orthopedic building, 4048 Cedar Bluff Drive. 231-347-9300 [map]

Our Petoskey East clinic is located on the corner of Mitchell & Division, 345 N. Division 231-348-7950.[map]

Our Boyne City Clinic is located in the SOBO district, 210 S Lake Street 231-459-4750 map

Charlevoix & Cheboygan

Our Charlevoix clinic is located in the Kmart Plaza, at 06510 M-66, 231-547-0380 [map] 

Our Cheboygan clinic is located south of town, 9445 N Straits Hwy, 231-627-7201 [map]

Harbor Springs & Indian River

Our Harbor Springs clinic is located next the Harbor Springs airport, 8452 M-119 Harbor Plaza, 231-348-7002. [map]                                        

Our Indian River clinic is right in the heart of downtown, 3805 South Straits Hwy, 231-238-4880. [map]