Our Staff

Therapists:
Alice Ocean COTA
Jean Takaesu OTR CHT
Jeanine Ward OTR CHT
Julie Teal OTR CHT
Katie Stevens OTR
K’Lyn Doherty OTR
Nancy Grossenbacher OTR CHT
Ryan Wellington OTR CHT
Sandra Ruff MHS OTR CHT
Susan Nosacka OTR CHT ME
Val Bennett OTR CHT

Support Staff:
ChristinaRhonda

Alice Ocean, COTA

Alice has 17 years of experience in the treatment of upper extremity dysfunction and has worked at HTS since September of 1993. Alice particularly enjoys working with trauma cases and patients with complex wounds. “Seeing people become encouraged by the function they gain back, even when they didn’t think they would be able to use their hand/arm again” is particularly rewarding. Alice is a master at splint fabrication, teaching independence and patience.

In her free time, Alice enjoys pottery, gardening, motorcycle riding, hiking and cross-country skiing.

Education
Mt Hood Community College-AA in Occupational Therapy

Certifications
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

 


Jean Takaesu, OTR CHT

Jean joined HTS in August 2005. She now works on-call for us.  Jean particularly enjoys the challenges of trauma; the problem solving that is required in treating this population is varied and complex. She also enjoys the challenge of determining the biomechanics behind a patient’s injury; she then uses this information to devise a treatment plan that will resolve their problems quickly. Incorporating tasks in the clinic which simulate life, work and leisure activities is included in her treatment planning. Fabricating splints is another area that she excels in. She likes using this skill to creatively assist patients to return to their favorite activity. She has a good sense of problem solving adaptive devices and modifying tasks for patients.

In her free time, Jean enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking and art projects.

Special quote from Jean: “Give me 5 more reps!!”

Education
University of Oregon-BS in Business Administration, Minor in Art History
Loma Linda University-BS in Occupational Therapy

Certification
Certified Hand Therapist

Membership
American Society of Hand Therapists

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Jeanine Ward, OTR CHT

Jeanine joined HTS in 2002 after taking time out to raise 3 children. Jeanine’s enthusiasm upon returning to hand therapy has been infectious. She relates that she is “constantly challenged by the far-reaching impact that hand injuries have on all aspects of life”. She finds the complex biomechanics of the upper extremity stimulating and enjoys the problem solving this requires.

Jeanine has specialized primarily in orthopedic conditions throughout her career and now is expanding into an area of personal interest – music. As a pianist, she enjoys the therapeutic partnership with musicians. She is in the development phase of offering an organized, team-approach therapy program for musicians with upper extremity injuries.

She spends her free time with her family, playing the piano, cycling tandem with her husband and hiking in Forest Park.

Education
Colorado State University – BS in Occupational Therapy

Certifications
Certified Hand Therapist

Membership
American Society of Hand Therapists

Performing Arts Medicine Association—PAMA

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Support Staff

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Julie Teal, OTR CHT

Julie founded Hand Therapy Specialists, Inc in February of 1991. After specializing in hand therapy the previous five years in a hospital setting she felt she could offer a more comprehensive, individualized program for individuals with upper extremity injuries in a private practice setting.

Following graduation from Loma Linda University in 1978, Julie’s first 12 years of practice afforded her the opportunity to gain experience in all areas Occupational Therapy: acute care, physical rehabilitation, mental health, pediatric consulting, management and hand therapy. Given this varied exposure, her focus narrowed and hand therapy became her dream. This dream was realized when she became a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) in 1991, the first year certification was offered to experienced therapists and with the founding of her private practice.

Julie particularly enjoys working with children and the elderly. Her areas of expertise within the specialty of hand therapy are trauma, arthritis and repetitive injury, especially as it relates to musicians.

The specialized skill of splinting the upper extremity is one of her loves. A well constructed, customized splint requires creativity. Each splint is as different as each hand; Julie knows that a well constructed splint enhances progress ultimately making a big difference in patients’ recovery. She has shared her skill locally by teaching beginning and advanced splinting at Pacific University for over 12 years.

Julie believes the key to therapy is encouraging each patient to see the positive by teaching them to recognize and celebrate their progress on a day to day basis.

Julie has enjoyed volunteering for the The Arthritis Foundation, The Free Clinic of SW Washington and Angel Flight.

Julie enjoys gardening, kayaking and traveling! Those who know her well know she is a fan of Walt Disney and his creative accomplishments. He continues to inspire her with the following quote: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Education
Loma Linda University – BS in Occupational Therapy

Certification
Certified Hand Therapist

Memberships
American Society of Hand Therapists
American Occupational Therapy Association
Oregon Occupational Therapy Association

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Katie Stevens, OTR

Katie started her work at HTS as a therapy aide. After working for a year and a half, she headed back to school to become an Occupational Therapist. We were thrilled when she returned to Portland in 1998 to start her hand therapy career with us!

Katie uses her clinical expertise to problem solve the root causes of joint stiffness and determine what is specifically preventing motion to tailor the patients treatment to overcome this problem. She is passionate about patient education. “Having a good understanding of their injury and the role they can play in the therapeutic process is essential for the patient”. She regularly teaches the patient what or how they can do something different to achieve their goal(s). She also enjoys the challenges of splint fabrication.

Outside of HTS, Katie enjoys cooking, coaching soccer and keeping up with her family.

Education
California Polytechnic State University–BS in Business
Loma Linda University- BS in Occupational Therapy

K’Lyn Doherty, OTR

K’Lyn Doherty joined HTS in 1995. K’Lyn has been treating patients with upper extremity disorders for the last 22 years. She especially takes pleasure from working with the older patients, listening and learning from their insights and life experiences. Overuse and tendonitis injuries are challenges that K’Lyn particularly enjoys. “It is satisfying to see this population improve, especially when they are skeptical.”

Patient education is a key element to K’Lyn’s treatment regime. She believes that the more information patients receive about their condition, the more successful their recovery will be.

K’Lyn admirably has built her career around her family. In her free time she teaches art to grade school students, is an enthusiastic booster at her kids sporting events and gardens.

Education
Oregon State University
Pacific University – BS in Occupational Therapy

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Nancy Grossenbacher, OTR CHT

Nancy has been a valued employee at HTS since the year of our inception, 1991. She has specialized in the evaluation and treatment of hand and upper extremity problems for 25 years. Nancy enjoys the demands for creativity that are inherent in her job as a hand therapist. She delights in the opportunity to problem solve ways of helping patients regain their independence with activities that are important to them whether it is home, work or leisure. Nancy states “… as the senior member of HTS, I have also taken a special interest in the care and management of osteoarthritis of the hands as I notice changes with my own aging and want to continue to pursue the activities I love.” She especially enjoys orthopedic diagnoses and loves the challenges and creativity of splinting.

Nancy feels strongly about the therapist’s responsibility to provide good education to each patient. She feels that if patients have a thorough understanding of what is wrong and what they can do, it enables them to better participate in their care, a must for success! Because of her belief, Nancy has created most of our educational handouts! She believes by providing education in both verbal and written format to the patient builds in the best possible opportunity for success.

In her free time, Nancy appreciates nature as she works in her garden, feeds her birds, and creates artwork such as cement cast leaves or calligraphy on rocks. Her garden has been on several garden tours and you may have seen her on a couple of TV spots related to birding and her cement cast leaves artwork.

Education
University of Puget Sound – BS in Occupational Therapy

Certifications
Certified Hand Therapist

Memberships
American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT)

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Ryan Wellington, OTR CHT

Ryan joined HTS in May 2007. His entire career has been focused on the treatment of the upper extremity. Although he enjoys treating all aspects of the upper extremity, he is especially passionate about shoulder rehabilitation, including acute and post surgical care. Most recently he attended a course on mechanics of the shoulder for the throwing athlete. Ryan enjoys the challenge that each diagnosis presents; including the satisfaction of following the patient from initial evaluation through discharge with improved function.

Ryan works in our NW and Hillsboro office. Ryan particularly enjoy developing relationships with physicians and the community in which he works. He is also a competent teacher. Over the last 6 months he has been leading our monthly shoulder study group.

In his free time, Ryan spends time with family and friends, outdoor activities, attending concerts, listening to live music and following professional and collegiate sports.

Education
Carroll College-BA in Psychology
University of South Dakota-MS in Occupational Therapy

Certification
Certified Hand Therapist

Memberships
American Society of Hand Therapists

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Sandra Ruff, MHS OTR CHT

Sandra has been working with upper extremity injuries for over 21 years. HTS was pleased to hire Sandra in 1998. One of her major areas of interest is research involving outcome measures. Sandra played a key role in HTS receiving the 2008 Petzoldt Award at the American Society of Hand Therapists annual meeting for our prospective research study looking at physical measures and functional outcomes for patients who had surgery for arthritis of their CMC joint.

Sandra enjoys how treating hands synthesizes anatomical knowledge with the creative problem solving to achieve maximal patient outcome. Focusing on the patient as a whole person, prioritizing patient problem areas, and helping incorporate home programs into daily life are key elements of her treatment strategies.

In addition to work and family, Sandra is also pursuing a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. Her interests include: cooking, baking, gardening, and running.

Education
BS in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
M.H.S. Washington University St. Louis, Missouri

Certification
Certified Hand Therapist (1994)

Memberships
American Society of Hand Therapists

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Susan Nosacka, OTR CHT ME

Susan has 20 yrs of experience in hand and upper extremity evaluation and treatment. She joined HTS in 1999. Susan is not only an occupational therapist and a certified hand therapist, but also a mechanical engineer. With her extensive background she is a real asset to our injured workers. Her knowledge as a hand therapist, along with her understanding of engineering principles gives much credibility when evaluating a patients performance in the workplace—whether it is office work or in an industrial setting. She also enjoys working on-site with employers and finding ways to help the injured worker return to meaningful, long-term employment. She administers specialized upper extremity Physical Capacity, Work Capacity and Job Site Evaluations.

Currently, Susan is heading up the development of an upper extremity Work Hardening Program in Vancouver for HTS. Susan plans to explore research in the area of flexor tendon gliding and the best methods for restoring tendon glide.

When she is not working at HTS, Susan owns and runs a custom mold design and manufacturing company called Precision Craft. If you have ever received chocolate from HTS, most likely she made the mold! In her leisure time she enjoys cycling and kayaking.

Education
LSU Medical Center-BS in Occupational Therapy
Portland State University-MS in Mechanical Engineering

Certifications
Certified Hand Therapist

Memberships
American Society of Hand Therapists

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Val Bennett, OTR CHT

Val has worked for HTS for over 17 years! Before hand therapy, Val spent 7 years working with injured workers performing work hardening, Physical Capacity Evaluations, Work Capacity Evaluations, and Job Site Evaluations.

Val enjoys the problem solving aspect of her job. She enjoys researching the problem and then developing treatment techniques and activities to assist each patient in returning to function. What the patient does at home is a critical part of Val’s treatment plan. Often home exercise programs can be overwhelming, Val’s goal is to make it very specific to what the patient needs to accomplish.

Currently Val is working with Susan to develop an upper extremity work hardening program in Vancouver. She is also developing a follow-up questionnaire for patients we see one time for a splint to assess the effectiveness, comfort, and use of the splint. She states that “it is important that we ensure the patients’ success with the splint”.

Spending time with family and friends, exercising, walking, home remodeling, arts and crafts, and learning to garden keep her busy when she is not working.

Education
University of Puget Sound–BS in Occupational Therapy

Certifications
Certified Hand Therapist

Membership
American Society of Hand Therapists

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Support Staff

Christina

Christina joined HTS in August of 2008 after completing her AA in Medical Assisting. Christina states that “the most important part of my job and what means the most to me is customer service. Being the first person a patient speaks with has a lot to do with the opinion they form about our company. So I do my best to be prepared, informed and ready to help explain or answer questions with a smile.”

Attitude is everything to Christina and is evidenced by one of her favorite quotes: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened” – Helen Keller

Christina spends her free time with her family doing stress free activities such as barbequing and day fishing. Music is also a major component of their lives.| BACK TO TOP |

Rhonda

Rhonda Johnson joined HTS in September 1991, 6 months after we opened and has helped establish and manage all 4 offices! Rhonda’s goal since we started this practice was to ensure that the patients were receiving the benefits to which they were entitled. Her emphasis has been to assist the patients so they could focus on their therapy and not the challenges of their insurance. “If I can help make that process easier for our patients I feel successful”.

We don’t know how Rhonda keeps up with all her hobbies, volunteering and work! She gardens, decorates cakes, arranges flowers and has a real love of animals. She volunteers with the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon and the Vancouver Free Clinic.

A few of her favorite quotes show her dedication to life and her caring for those around her:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” ~ Winston Churchill

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little” ~ Edmund Burke

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