History of the Texas Society for Hand Therapy

Provided by Molly Hudson, OTR, CHT in News at Hand, 2014

The first state chapters of the American Society of Hand Therapists were started in 1994 under the Leadership of Missy Donnell, OTR, CHT as the ASHT President-Elect.  The original state chapters were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.  A start-up manual and $300 was provided by ASHT for each state that submitted an application.

The Texas State Chapter of ASHT was started in 1995 with a three-part mission: education, community outreach, and research.  The 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.

Mary Ann Appleby recalls “I was Missy’s college roommate.  She approached me about starting [a state chapter] in our home state while 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 an excellent leader. 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 publishing a quarterly newsletter and hosting an annual education conference since 1996.  The first conference was in Dallas in the spring of 1996.  

In 2002, in honor of Nancy Geers’ dedication to promoting our profession, an honorarium was established by Kim Granhaug, OTR, CHT to recognize those who promote hand therapy as Nancy did.  The Nancy Geers Award is given every other year to a physician or another professional in a related field who has worked with hand therapists to promote the hand therapy profession.  

In 2003, the Shining Star Award was established to honor a past TSHT board member who has contributed to pushing our organization forward.  The idea for the Shining Star Award was generated in response to an article written by Ken Flowers in the Journal of Hand Therapy (Jan/March 2003).

In 2005 and 2007, the Texas Chapter won “The State Chapter Award” from the ASHT for its strong leadership in the promotion of hand therapy.

In 2014, it was decided by ASHT to disband all state chapters.  As a result of that decision, the Texas Society for Hand Therapy was established.  

The TSHT continues its mission of promoting hand therapy through education, community outreach, and research.  Each spring, an annual conference is held, highlighting the latest in evidence based care.  In 2017, the first research and outreach grants were awarded, and in 2018, the Distinguished in Excellence and Education Award was established.  This award recognizes a TSHT member who has influenced our organization through educating our members, mentoring less experienced therapists, or organizing continuing education related to hand therapy.

The TSHT works closely with other organization such as TOTA, TPTA, ASHT, AHTF, and IFSHT to continue to increase awareness and promote the field of hand therapy.