New Certification Brings Specialty Therapy to 21st Century Rehab

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Ommen Now Certified Hand Therapist

JEFFERSON, Iowa – Tyler Ommen, Occupational Therapist at 21st Century Rehab in Greene County Medical Center, has been named a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). “This certification is at the top of the field for hand therapy,” Ommen explained. “It is the pinnacle of achievements in this area and something I have been aiming for over the past seven years, really since grad school. And although it is called hand therapy, it is not just specifically hands, but covers the entire upper extremity all the way to the shoulder.”  

Ommen is correct when he said becoming a CHT is quite an accomplishment. According to the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC), the fall 2023 test pass rate was at 54% and Ommen is one of only 57 CHTs in the state of Iowa. As a CHT, he works with patients who have had surgery, tendon repairs, ruptures, tendonitis or really any injury or ailment of the upper extremity. In many of these cases, therapeutic techniques are combined. For example, exercise and dry needling can help the patient resolve their issues. In other instances, such as arthritis, which cannot be eliminated, he can help the patient in other ways. “We can talk about braces, joint protection principles, make adjustments to activities to decrease aggravation or incorporate adaptive measures,” he said.

Though many think of their jobs or professions when the word occupational is used, Ommen said it has a much broader meaning in this context. “Occupational Therapy basically assists with any activity that you find meaningful, including activities of daily living.” Because of this, he offers a variety of specialized treatments through Occupational Therapy. For the past several years, he has worked with Parkinson’s Disease patients through the LSVT Big Program in which therapists assist patients in learning how to amplify movements that have become slower (bradykinesia) or smaller (hypokinesia). “The program goes through different maximal daily exercises developed to counter problems such as hunched posture,” said Ommen. “We work a lot on stretching things out, getting them from being rounded forward to opening up backward and getting them to use larger movements.” This is an intense, hour-long session done four times per week for four weeks. Then after three to six months, the patient is evaluated and a “refresher” may be done over the course of a week or two.

Ommen can also help patients suffering from edemas. “In a rural setting, you have to be flexible,” Ommen added. “You have to be able to do a wide variety of things.” He can treat patients suffering from primary or secondary lymphedema, which is chronic swelling or swelling caused by damage from surgery, trauma or radiation to the lymphatic system or those with venous-related swelling. Treatments could include compression, lymphatic drainage, exercise, elevation and more.

Depending on the individual situation, referrals may or may not be needed to schedule an assessment with Ommen. The first step is to call 21st Century Rehab at 515-386-4284 to discuss the issues a patient is facing and determine the best course of action.