A certified hand therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who has worked in their field for at least 5 years, has logged 2,000 hours of treatment of patients with upper extremity disorders, and has passed an examination that requires study and preparation for about one year. Ninety percent of certified hand therapists are occupational therapists who have chosen to specialize in treatment of the upper extremity. Cynthia passed the inaugural examination to become a CHT in 1991. She has practiced hand therapy for 38 years.


People with problems affecting the function of their upper extremity should seek the help of a certified hand therapist. Diagnoses that are treated by a certified hand therapist include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fractures of the elbow, forearm, wrist, hand or digits
  • Tendinopathies (tendinitis including tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, de Quervain’s disease)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Lacerations
  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Crush injuries
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness

Cynthia has developed a hand therapy program for people with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). She has written a chapter on the subject in her textbook and presented on this topic at the annual hand therapists’ meeting (ASHT) in 2012 and at the annual meeting of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) in 2014 and 2016. In her private practice, she was seeing a large number of people with CIPN. When she closed her practice in AZ and moved to CA in October of 2016, half of her patient population were people with CIPN. Cynthia is currently a co-investigator on a randomized controlled study of her CIPN program with colleagues who are oncology clinical researchers in Scottsdale, AZ. A poster describing this research protocol was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Gastrointestinal Symposium in 2017.

Cynthia Cooper’s Areas of Expertise Includes:

  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN)
  • Splinting
  • Edema Control
  • Pain Management
  • Manual Therapy
  • Tissue-Specific Exercises
  • Physical Agent Modalities
  • Sensorimotor/Neuromuscular Rehabilitation
  • Biomechanical Training and Ergonomics for Symptom Management
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Strengthening
  • Home Exercise Programs

Cynthia closed her private practice in Scottsdale, AZ, and moved to Carlsbad, CA, in October of 2016. She is continuing her work in CIPN by providing education and consultation to patients and to rehabilitation departments interested in creating programs for people with CIPN.

Cynthia presented on the topic of CIPN at the Occupational Therapy Association Spring Conference in 2016. She presented at a symposium at ACRM on occupational therapy education in cancer rehabilitation and at another symposium at ACRM on CIPN in Chicago, IL, in 2016. She provided an educational lecture on CIPN to the rehabilitation service at City of Hope in Duarte, CA, in 2016. She was an active member of the cancer rehabilitation education networking group of ACRM in 2016.

Cynthia was selected to receive an endowment from the American Association for Hand Surgery (AAHS). This helped cover some costs of a volunteer trip to Ghana in February, 2017, where she provided hand therapy and trained therapists at a teaching hospital in Kumasi, Ghana for two weeks. The trip was coordinated by the organization Health Volunteers Overseas. She has sponsored a therapist there so he can become a member of the International Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy.

Cynthia went to La Paz, Bolivia, where she performed hand therapy volunteer work and trained Bolivian therapists in 2015. For that trip she received an endowment from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH). That trip was coordinated by the organization ReSurge.