Tony Dao OTR/L, CHT: Rebound’s Handy Man

Tony Dao ORT/L, CHT is Rebound Physical Therapy’s Director of Hand Therapy and what is known as ‘Hand Land’ by those in the know. This Washington Husky came to Bend several year’s ago toting along his passion for treating patients, outdoor activities and everything University of Washington related. It has been wonderful having him at the helm of our Certified Hand Therapist Program!

What made you choose a career in Occupational Therapy (OT) ?

Besides not having the grades for med school? Ha! No, really, during undergraduate and touring the University of Washington Medical Center (Go Dawgs!) I found out how little time most doctors are able to spend with their patients during appointments. Depending on the setting, OTs can be with their patients from an hour to all day. OT was right up my alley in wanting to help others return to independent function plus getting to know the patient and establishing relationships.

Once you picked that route, how did Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) come into the picture?

While working at Seattle’s trauma hospital, Harborview Medical Center, I was treating patients with trauma injuries from head to toe. The OTs on the acute care services were responsible, in addition to many other diagnoses, for taking care of those with severe arm and hand injuries. I took care of so many patients with horrific life changing injuries during the ‘early’ hospital stage of their care but it was only the beginning of their rehab. Once they were stable from the acute service, they would be discharged out of hospital or to the inpatient rehabilitation floor. Frequently, these patients would come visit the hospital months later and show how well they had recovered under the care of a CHT at an outpatient clinic. Although CHTs can work in any environment they are most prominent in the outpatient therapy setting and I wanted to be a part of that stage of their rehab.

Career Highlight?

Sure seeing competitive athletes return to their sport pain free or getting someone with industrial injuries back to their job safely is worthy of a feather in your cap. But often the most rewarding is getting the “average Joe” back to doing something that is important to them. My favorite feedback since I’ve been here in Bend, “I can now pour beer out of my growler without any pain,” and “I was able to hold on to my handlebars while getting some big air down Wanoga ……..and didn’t crash like I did before.” (not sure you can take credit for that last part Tony) Ok, now that I think about it, I will say getting a medical helicopter pilot, who survived a horrific chopper crash, back to flying rescues; presenting a lecture on sports related arm/hand injuries and protocols to my medical peers in an auditorium (more nerve wracking than it sounds); and having all my former students and co- workers that I mentored successfully pass the hand therapy certification (CHT) exam.

What role do CHTs play in everyday life?

We really listen to what’s important to the patient and strive to work with them to obtain their goals. Whether it’s something athletic or aggressive such as hitting that big air on the mountain bike, driving that golf ball 300+ yards to holding their baby, knitting a quilt, playing the violin or even just cleaning the house and weeding the garden. We’re here to get you back doing the things you’re passionate about.

Tell us about the team of certified hand therapists of Rebound?

The CHTs of Rebound come from different backgrounds of work and life experiences that are sure to assist any patient we come across. We’ve been educated, mentored and practiced in different areas of the country and we utilize unique techniques to bring a diverse knowledge and skills to care for the patients and community of Central Oregon.