There will be high fives all round with the opening of a new hand therapy business.

Cynthia Ciezadlo, who lives in Midhirst, has recently started her hand therapy business, High 5 Hand Therapy in Stratford. She is both a registered physiotherapist and hand therapist.

Hand therapy is the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and conditions from the fingers all the way up to the elbow.

"I opened the business in Stratford as I found it frustrating people would have to travel to New Plymouth for their care. I wanted to make it easier for people so they wouldn't have to travel so far."

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Cynthia completed a four-year undergraduate bachelor of science and kinesiology at York University in 2009.


She then moved to Australia in 2010, and completed a two-year master's degree of clinical physiology at Queensland University.

"I decided to go to Australia for the adventure and culture. The Australian culture is quite different to Canadian culture."

Cynthia moved to Taranaki from Australia in 2013, completing a post-graduate study in rehabilitation through the Auckland University of Technology to become a registered hand therapist.

"In Canada, it is a two-step process to become registered, after you graduate you have to complete registration exams whereas in Australia and New Zealand once you're registered you can work.

"I moved to New Zealand because I wanted a new adventure. While I was in Australia, I googled physiotherapy jobs and the first place that came up was New Plymouth so I decided to move to Taranaki."

To become a registered hand therapist, Cynthia completed 1800 clinical hours under supervision at Taranaki Base Hospital, a splinting course and received a letter of recommendation from her supervisor.

She says she is passionate about educating and helping people.

"I've fallen in love with hand therapy, the intricacy of it all blows my mind. We're always using our hands and I'm passionate about working with people to improve the functionality and get them back to doing what they love, whether it be sport or a hobby."


She says her business started in June, after the opening was delayed due to Covid-19 lockdown.

"It's all come together now, I'm excited to be open. I feel like more of a 'Kiwi' by helping the community."

She says New Zealanders are like her second family.

"They're hard working, very social and always looking after the wellbeing of their community."

She says she is happy to be working in Stratford.

"I'm also a fitness instructor at the TSB Pool Complex in Stratford. I want to be a part of the Stratford community and the way to do that is to help the people."


Cynthia says it is her goal to be accessible.

"I want to be easily accessible for people, especially those in the rural communities. I want to simplify things for them."

She says she understands people can't always attend an appointment during the week.

"I have walk-in hours available on Saturday for both hand therapy and physio acute injuries."

After taking a break from activities such as sport because of lockdown, people should pace themselves when starting their activities again, Cynthia says.

"I advise people to ease their way in. If they are sore they should have a rest day so the tissue can adapt. We need our hands every day so we have to look after them."


She says it is important to support local businesses during this time.

"I support local by buying from local coffee shops. It is great because as well as helping, I'm getting to know the community.

"We all need to lift each other right now. It's refreshing to see Stratford alive and busy with traffic and we all have to do our part to keep Stratford thriving."