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History of The Texas Society for Hand Therapy


(information provided by Dr. Fred Kessler, News at Hand 2004)

  • In the 1950’s and 60’s, practically all hand surgeons constructed their patient’s splints and managed their therapy programs. Hand therapy was further along in Great Britain at that time due to the activity of Commander Wynn Parry of the RAF. He established a rehab unit at Chessington, England for the rehabilitation of World War II pilots, particularly those with burn injuries.
  • Erle Peacock and Dr. John Madden in the development of their hand house in Durham, North Carolina.
  • The idea of full-day therapy incorporating activities of daily living was further developed by Dr. Jim Hunter in Philadelphia.
  • 1972 Fred Kessler, MD and Dr. Louis Levett, Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine and Methodist Hospital, agreed with this concept and with his approval, a hand rehabilitation center was established under the direction of Dr. Roy Borrell at St. Anthony Center.
  • 1977, St. Anthony’s Center sponsored a course titled, “INTENSIVE HAND REHABILITATION SYMPOSIUM”. On that faculty were Dr.’s Paul Brand and Gloria De Core.
  • 1978, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand took on the sponsorship of the symposium and St. Anthony’s Center produced one called, “FUNCTIONAL REHABILITATION OF THE DISABLED HAND.” The faculty was Dr.’s Richard Smith, Robert Beasley, and George Omer, as well as Bonnie Olivett
  • 1979, St. Anthony’s Center produced “FUNCTIONAL REHABILITATION OF THE TRAUMATIZED HAND.” The faculty included Dr.’s Richard Burton, Richard Eaton, Graham Lister, and Nancy McCurdy. Bonnie Olivett and Karen Pendergast.
  • In 1982, St. Anthony’s Center produced “HAND REHABILITATION AN AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION PROGRAM”. On that faculty were Tuppen Bourianoff, Roslyn Evan, Elaine Fess, Barbara Johnson, Georgiann Laseter, Evelyn Mackin, Bonnie Olivett, Karen Pendergast, and Margaret Carter W.
  • 1984, St. Anthony’s Center produced our last symposium titled, “HAND REHABILITATION AN AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION SEMINAR”. Our faculty included Elaine Fess, Barbara Johnson, Georgiann Laseter, Judy Colditz, Bonnie Olivett, Nancy Cannon, Gretchen Maurer, Shellye Bittinger, Tuppen Bourianoff and Barbara Johnson.
  • ASHT had its first meeting in Dallas in 1978. By the end of our 1984 meeting in Houston, it was evident that the ASHT was on its way to producing its own educational programs and the St. Anthony’s Center group believed theirs was no longer needed.



(information was provided by Molly Hudson, OTR, CHT News at Hand 2014)

  • The first ASHT state chapters begun in 1994 under the leadership of Missy Donnell, OTR/CHT as ASHT President-Elect.  Those original states were:  Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.  A start-up manual and $300 was provided for each state that submitted an application for state chapter charters.
  • The Texas State Chapter was started back in 1995 with a three-part mission: Education, Community Outreach, and Research.   Our first Board of Directors included President – Tuppen Bourianoff, PT, OTR, CHT; Vice President – Melissa Parrott, OTR, CHT; Secretary – Karen Sechler, OTR, CHT; Treasurer Mary Ann Appleby, OTR, CHT, and Education Coordinator Gail Blom, OTR, CHT
  • From the words of Mary Ann Appleby: “I was Missy’s college roommate. She approached me about starting one in our home state which attending the national conference. I told her I would organize a board. Karen Griggs had just passed her CHT exam and was ready to serve. Karen Sechler had a strong working relationship with both Karen Griggs and Tuppen. Both Karens felt Tuppen would be excellent leadership. Gail Blom as conference chair and I as treasurer drove down together and met halfway between Dallas and Houston in Madisonville with president Tuppen and the Karens (VP and secretary) to sign the charter”
  • The Texas State Chapter has succeeded at putting out a quarterly Newsletter and host an Annual Educational Conference since 1996. The first Conference was in Dallas, 1996. We have had 23 uninterrupted conferences. We have had 4 newsletter editors.
  • In honor of Nancy Geers’ dedication to promoting our profession, an honorarium was established in 2002 by Kim Granhaug OTR, CHT to recognize those who promote hand therapy as she did. The award is given every other year to a physician or a professional in a related field who has worked with Hand Therapists to better and promote the Hand Therapy Profession. We have had 8 recipients.
  • The Shining Star award began in 2003 by Kim Granhaug and the Board of Directors.  This idea was generated by Karen Grigg’s editorial response in our Chapter Newsletter to an article written by Ken Flowers in the Journal of Hand Therapy (Jan /March 2003). In the article, Mr. Flowers commented that his own list of Shining Stars of the next generation was shockingly short.  In the former Texas Chapter and now the Texas Society for Hand Therapy, we have a long list of selfless volunteers who spend many hours every year on various projects at the State and National Level. We have had 16 Shining Stars.
  • Texas Chapter won “The State Chapter Award” for ASHT in 2005 and 2007 for its strong Leadership
  • Our website was created in 2010.



  • ASHT changed by-laws no longer required membership to the parent organization by state chapter members.  OT/PT’s could now be members of the state chapter without being members of ASHT.  This allowed us to grow tremendously as a chapter.
  • Due to liability issues, it was determined in 2014 to disband all state chapters and The Texas Society for Hand Therapy was born.  Now it is a non-profit organization. As of today, we have 163 members.
  • New committees (Social Media, Awareness and Austin Outreach) were established in 2013.
  • Funds in the past have been allocated to support members who have done research and or poster presentations since 2015 to attend the national meeting.
  • We have spotlighted many of our members on the national stage.  Funds have also been allocated to support community outreach near and far, for our members who are sharing their gifts with those in need.
  • Disaster Fund to help members and clinics in need was created in 2017 after Harvey Hurricane.
  • Grant committee, Poster committee, and Bylaws committee was established in 2017.
  • The first Research and Outreach grants were awarded in 2017.
  • The board created The Distinguished in Excellence and Education Award in 2018.
  • We received a donation from Dr. David Netscher for Education in 2017.
  • We continue the Outreach initiatives to spotlight an organization related to our profession such as Touching Hands.
  • TSHT is up to date on Legislature and Documentation thanks to our relationship with TOTA and AOSM, as well as visiting the capitol to help with issues like the CMS proposed rule that was withdrawn in 2017.
  • In 2018 the board unanimously approved a proposal to change the title of the Austin Outreach Committee to the Advocacy Committee. This change was stimulated by the interest in clarifying the focus of the committee from a region-specific title to an activity specific descriptor.
  • Increase our fellowship with other associations to help our career and increase awareness and opportunities such as TOTA, ASHT, AHTF, and IFSHT. In 2017, the TSHT President became part of the TOTA board.
  • Strong with FB and Instagram
  • We celebrate Hand therapy week: contests to help with membership and to attend the conference