Hand Therapy Specialists

What is a Certified Hand Therapist?

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational/physical therapist who specializes in the treatment of hands.

They must have a minimum of 5 years postgraduate experience with at least 4,000 hours in hand therapy and have successfully challenged the Hand Therapy Certification Commission exam in order to obtain these credentials. CHT’s are dedicated professionals who have a commitment to meet the highest standards of their profession. The hand and arm have extremely intricate anatomy and complexity. Rehabilitation of the hand and arm requires in-depth knowledge and up-to-date techniques. Certified Hand Therapists have the highest level of competence in the rehabilitation of upper extremity injuries.

Certified Hand Therapists are able to initiate treatment immediately following surgery often while stitches are still in place. Early referral to a hand therapist is effective in preventing further surgeries and obtaining an optimal outcome.

Emily Dayton, OTD, OTR/L


Emily completed her undergraduate studies at Penn State University. Several years later she was introduced to the field of OT and decided to pursue a clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 2016. Her clinical experience includes inpatient acute care, skilled nursing, and outpatient house calls. Seeing a need for skilled and specialized treatment of upper extremity injuries and conditions inspired her to transition to outpatient therapy. She enjoys helping patients to decrease their pain, recover following surgery, learn how to manage chronic conditions, and progress toward their goals. She has too many hobbies, but particularly enjoys backpacking, camping, painting, horseback riding, reading, and playing drums.

Diedre Falls, OTR/L


A graduate of Thomas Jefferson Medical College in 1987, Diedre went on to receiving her Hand Therapy Certification (CHT) in 1991. Her vast experience has been in both the inpatient and out patient settings throughout the Northern Virginia area. Her most recent experience includes working directly with 2 local Hand surgeons. Her passion lies in patient care. Diedre enjoys treating all upper extremity conditions as well as post operative cases. She has managed many complex hand injuries. Diedre’s is also a yoga instructor, which allows her to create the ideal rehabilitative environment. She is currently treating patients in our Fairfax Office.

Brett Birkbeck, OTR/L, CLT


Brett graduated from New York University with a Master’s Degree in Occupational therapy in 2019. He has been working in outpatient hand therapy from the beginning of his career and is working towards becoming a Certified Hand Therapist. Brett earned his certification in lymphedema therapy in 2020. In his spare time, Brett enjoys traveling, hiking, practicing martial arts, playing guitar, and spending time with his friends/family. His overall goal is to help patients perform meaningful activities to the best of their ability.

Kathryn Trizna, OTR/L


Katie joined Alliance in 2017. She graduated from University of Virginia in 2011 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She then served two years of AmeriCorps before returning to school to complete a Master's program in Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Among her fieldwork placements, Katie worked with a skilled occupational therapist at The VA outpatient clinic in D.C. There, Katie worked with Veterans who presented with cognitive challenges, injuries to their upper extremities, and those with adaptive equipment needs. She enjoys treating patients with all upper extremity conditions, post-op cases, and fitting patients with customized splints. She is an active member of ASHT and AOTA. In her free time, Katie likes to spend time with her family and dog, go to the movies, read, and volunteer.

Kimberly Hartman, OTR/L , CHT


Kim is a Certified Hand Therapist and Occupational Therapist specializing in Hand Therapy since 1995. In 1995, she received a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Towson University in Towson, MD. She began her career in an acute care hospital where she worked in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. Here she received a broad perspective of Occupational Therapy, to include: acute trauma, post-surgical care, stroke rehab, pediatric developmental delays, wound care, lymphedema management and hand therapy. Later, she went on to attend one of the premiere schools in the nation for Hand Therapy, Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA., where she received a post-graduate level certificate in Hand and Upper Quarter Rehabilitation. She earned the prestigious Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) certification in 2005.Kim has assisted with implementing and developing Hand Therapy programs in various outpatient therapy practices in Northern Virginia. She has extensive upper extremity experience with treating both children and adults with complex hand injuries. Currently, she works directly with Hand Surgeons locally that specialize in orthopedic upper extremity injuries of the upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand. Kim is an active member of the American Society of Hand Therapists and also has been trained in and is a provider of the Graston technique. Kim is a lifelong learner and she attends continuing education courses regularly so that she can provide the highest level of services to the patient’s she treats. She excels at the challenge of working with a variety of complex injuries and diagnoses and is extremely skilled in splinting and modalities. In her free time, Kim enjoys spending time with her husband and son, traveling, reading and outdoor activities.

Najwa Wallschlaeger, OTR/L, CHT


Najwa is a certified hand therapist and a licensed and registered occupational therapist at Alliance Physical Therapy's Manassas location. Najwa completed her undergraduate studies at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa in 1994. She went on to receive her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy in 1996 from the University of Indianapolis in Indiana. She began her career in Lynchburg, VA working in inpatient acute hospital and rehabilitation settings. During that time she discovered her passion for hand therapy and transitioned into an outpatient practice. Najwa pursued her interest in hand specialty through a mentorship at the Indiana Hand Center and in 2002 established a hand clinic in Lynchburg. Najwa earned her Certification in Hand Therapy in 2006. She brings 20 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist and is a member of the American Society of Hand Therapists. She is current with hand therapy practice trends and has become known for quality care and professionalism. Najwa lives in our area with her husband and two children, and enjoys hiking, running, cooking and piano.

Kieifi Myrick, OTR/L


Kieifi Myrick received her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida International University in Miami, Fl. A native Floridian, she received a Division 1 softball scholarship to play at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL. After a series of injuries inhibiting her ability to play the game she loves, she realized her desire to help people return to the activities that are most meaningful to them, leading her to the field of Occupational Therapy. Her clinical experiences include Outpatient Orthopedics and Inpatient Neuro rehab. In her free time Kieifi enjoys to workout, travel, and spend time with family, friends and her dog Ace.