Hand Surgery Endowment

Vargas International Hand Therapy Award

The Vargas International Hand Therapy Teaching Award is named in honor of Dr. Miguel Vargas, a hand surgeon who practiced in Puerto Rico and was an international emissary for education.

The Award is an outgrowth of the AAHS's mission. Its intent is therapy outreach - to foster an exchange of educational ideas between therapists in the AAHS and in the host country to result in improved patient care for upper extremity problems. The Vargas Award is hand therapy education driven. Education is the foremost purpose and mission of the Award, with a portion of the trip emphasizing hands-on postoperative care of the upper extremity in host countries where surgery is applicable and possible. As volunteers, awardees will collaborate with others to provide informative hands-on training to improve patient care and host site education.

The Vargas Award is bestowed annually. One grant reimbursing up to $5000 in trip-related expenses, including supplies needed for the mission, will be made to the therapist Award recipient. Applicants may apply to both the Vargas Award and HSE Volunteer Scholarship, but they cannot use the award for the same trip. View previous Vargas Award recipients and reports.

Who can apply for the Vargas Award?

The Vargas Award will be granted to an AAHS member hand therapist currently practicing in the area of hand therapy.


  • Applicants must be current AAHS members.
  • Applicants must be actively practicing in the area of hand therapy.
  • Individuals must be willing to travel for up to 2 weeks.
  • Following the trip, the therapist will be required to share his/her mission experience with the AAHS membership by writing an article for the Hand Surgery Quarterly newsletter and presenting a report at the Annual Meeting.
  • Award recipients will be asked to serve on the Vargas Award Committee after their trip.
  • If a therapist is unable to afford attendance to the AAHS Annual Meeting, the unused funds from the Vargas Award may be applied toward this expense so that the Award winner can present at the Annual Meeting.
  • Vargas Award recipient will be required to be an AAHS member for a minimum of five years.
The Vargas Award program is currently suspended due to COVID-19. The Hand Association and HSE look forward to restarting this funding program soon to provide hand therapy education to those in need around the world.