In the field of hand therapy, a patient's ability and progress has to be communicated to a variety of involved parties: the physician needs the information to design and complete a therapy regimen; properly educating the patient ensures that they come to and fully participate in the therapy; and the payer needs to be convinced that the care was necessary and effective. Objective data serves as the backbone of the clinical assessment, impacting each of these areas. Mike Cricchio, MBA, OTR/L, CHT, and founder of the Teton Hand and Upper Extremity Conference, says that therapists are always trying to make data as objective as possible.

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As we start a new year, we often reflect on the progress we've made in the one coming to an end. Some of us may measure progress as trips to the gym, others in dollars earned, while others may keep track in more abstract measurements.

When it comes to the field of physical therapy, results are often measured by a patient's perceived changes. Am I stronger? Has the pain subsided? Can I perform functions I could not previously perform? But a patient's feelings are subjective, and can often be ambiguous, or influenced by emotions or perceptions. Objective findings become a powerful tool for a clinician in determining a patient's treatment plan and progress, while also serving as an easily understood and quantifiable value for the patient and referring parties.

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Lisa Fitzpatrick, OTR/CHT is the founder and president of Ergo Links, a company focused on creating an ergonomically healthy workplace, as well as helping injured workers return to work. Fitzpatrick also offers services to individuals who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and who require specific attention and tests that a normal FCE may not require.

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