Meet Our Therapists
Annette Berka | OTR/L, CHT
Annette received her B.S. Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida in 1985. She spent the next two years working in general rehabilitation and hand therapy in South Florida before moving to Arizona in 1988.
She joined Desert Hand Therapy six months after its inception and worked as the clinical director for one of their busiest offices in the Valley. Annette ventured into independent practice for five years before returning to Desert Hand Therapy in 2014. She is passionate about patient care and building relationships with her patients and their medical team for the best outcomes. In addition to her clinical work with Desert Hand, she is an active member of ASHT.
Kelsey Wright | MOTR/L
Kelsey received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University (WMU) in 2015. Throughout her schooling, Kelsey gained OT experience in the settings of pediatrics, mental health, hand therapy, and geriatrics.
Her passion for hand therapy originated while observing hand therapy services at the DHT Mesa clinic in 2012 and her interest has continued to develop over time. Also during her studies at WMU, Kelsey gained valuable research experience studying the impact of sensor technology in the homes of older adults with Dementia. In addition to her clinical work, Kelsey is a member of American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Arizona Occupational Therapy Association (ArizOTA), and American Society of Hand Therapy (ASHT). She also loves elephants.
Alicia Austin | PT, CSCS
Alicia graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Sciences. She earned her M.S. in Physical Therapy from the Arizona School of Health Sciences (AT Still University) in 2000. During her professional career, she has had the opportunity to work closely with orthopedic surgeons to gain an extensive knowledge of post-surgical rehabilitation. Alicia is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. She is also certified as a Mat I Pilates Instructor through PHI Pilates.
She has had the honor of being a past presenter at the state Athletic Trainer’s Convention. Her presentation was about integrating Pilates into the athletic training room. Her most recent accomplishment has been becoming a Certified Kinesio® Taping Practitioner (CKTP) as well as becoming certified in Dry Needling through the American Dry Needling Institute. Alicia is a native of Arizona and enjoys spending time with her family. She has a young son and enjoys watching college basketball, reading, and golfing.
Carlos Ramirez | COTA
Carlos moved from California to Arizona in 2005 and was hired at Desert Hand Therapy shortly thereafter. Prior to moving into therapy, Carlos was certified as a Licensed Massage Therapist in CA. While at DHT, Carlos earned his Associate degree in Applied Science for Occupational Therapy Assistant. Since then, he has dedicated his career to the treatment and rehabilitation of the upper extremity while being mentored by several Certified Hand Therapists.
He has worked with therapists at our Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cofco and Clarendon offices. He has a particular interest in tendon injuries and pursuing further continuing education in modalities, such as kinesiotaping. He is currently in the process of pursuing his Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. Carlos is actively involved in daily managerial duties at the Clarendon clinic when not treating patients.
Chris Reynolds | PT, MHS, CHT
Chris received his Bachelor of Applied Sciences Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan in 1979. He moved to Phoenix one year later to begin his career in hand therapy and has been part of a growing profession ever since. He worked for a group of hand surgeons and hand therapists for 17 years and helped lay the groundwork for this burgeoning specialty. During this period Chris authored several chapters in Rehabilitation of the Hand and a number of other publications, while giving over 100 talks and presentations nationally and locally. He became a Certified Hand Therapist in 1991, and received his Masters of Health Science Degree from the University of Indianapolis in 1994.
In 1997 Chris started Desert Hand Therapy and has been the Director ever since, establishing 10 clinics in the Valley of the Sun. He continues to see a full caseload of patients finding immense joy in helping patients with injured upper extremities regain motion, strength and function. He recently patented a continuous passive motion machine for the elbow and is working on a new brace/splint combination for injured hands and wrists. Through the years Chris has had the pleasure of mentoring individuals who have expressed an interest in entering the field of hand therapy.
Chris served on the Board of the American Society of Hand Therapy and has been an item writer for the Certification examination. He is a member of the APTA, AZPTA, and ASHT.
Richard Standage | PT, MHS, CHT
Richard graduated Summa Cum Laude from ASU with a B.S. in Exercise Science. He attended NAU, graduating with honors with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy. His entire career has been dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of the upper extremity. He became a Certified Hand Therapist in 2005, and continues to practice with passion and excellence.
Tara Jensen | DPT
Tara earned her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Des Moines University after graduating from Utah State University with a B.S. in Exercise Science/Nutrition. She has previous experience with orthopedics, spine care, post-op rehab, headaches, TMJ, women’s health and oncology. Tara has specialized training in integrated manual therapy, visceral manipulation and cranial therapy.
Amy Novotny | DPT
Amy Novotny has been a physical therapist specializing in sports, orthopedics and vestibular rehabilitation for more than 6 years in the East Valley. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Bachelor of Arts in French, and Minors in Mathematics and Spanish. She then graduated from the University of Delaware in 2008 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.
Amy is interested in providing personalized hands-on care to a variety of patient populations including post-operative conditions, general orthopedic conditions, sports and recreational injuries, chronic pain conditions and balance or vertigo disorders. Amy is progressing her training in postural restoration (PRI) to add to her skills in manual therapy, scraping and vestibular rehabilitation. She is also working on her certification in dry needling and has already completed the training for the upper body. Having studied abroad in France and worked as a Spanish interpreter for Desert Hand Therapy in the past, Amy is able to reach out to the foreign language speakers in the area in need of rehabilitation.
Desarae Burgeron OTR/L
Desarae earned her bachelor’s in exercise and wellness at ASU in 2013. In 2015 she graduated with her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Midwestern University-Glendale. Desarae is working towards earning her certification in hand therapy. In her spare time she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Adam Zook | OTR/L
Adam earned his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 2013. While there he became a personal trainer and found a passion for helping individuals reach their goals. Adam went on to Midwestern University to receive a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2015 and developed a desire to specialize in upper extremity rehabilitation.
As an avid electric guitar player Adam has an appreciation for the hands and upper extremity and is very motivated to help patients regain their ability to perform the everyday tasks and activities that are important to them. Adam is currently working towards becoming a Certified Hand Therapist.
Sabby Wade | OTD, OTR/L
Sabby graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree in 2017 and from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services in 2014. She began working in hand therapy shortly after graduation. Sabby enjoys learning about all aspects of hand therapy but most enjoys supporting and treating those with cumulative trauma and chronic conditions.
Charlotte Milas | MS, OTR/L, CHTT
Charlotte Milas is a native of Arlington Heights, Illinois and received her bachelor’s degree at Cornell College (Iowa) as a collegiate athlete in Exercise Science in May 2010. Then went on to study occupation therapy at Midwestern University – Glendale and graduated in November of 2013. Over the past 2 years Charlotte has attended courses in Kinesiology Taping & Touch Bionics Prosthetics including I-limb ultra, I-limb ultra-revolution and I-limb digits.
Charlotte enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as playing indoor and san volleyball, basketball, running, hiking, and traveling.
Donna M. Gilbert | OTR/L, CHT
Donna attended Kearney State in Nebraska and University of Nebraska in Omaha before obtaining her B.S. in Occupational Therapy at Loma Linda University in California in 1992. She has enjoyed working in the specialty field of Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation for the past 23 years in Kansas City and Phoenix areas. She obtained her Hand Therapy Certification in 2001.
She joined the team at Desert Hand Therapy in 2001. She continues to treat patients daily as well as manage our Cave Creek, Glendale and Maryvale offices. She is an active member of AOTA , AriZota, NBCOT and ASHT. Currently, she is the Legislative Co-chair for the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association.
Vaughn Burgeson | OTR/L, CHT
Vaughn graduated from the University of North Dakota with a B.S. in Occupational Therapy in 1989. He moved to northwestern Ohio and explored a variety of treatment settings including psychiatric rehabilitation, skilled nursing, and home health prior to developing an interest in hand therapy. Upon becoming a Certified Hand Therapist in 2001, Vaughn supervised the hand therapy division of an outpatient physical rehabilitation company in Toledo, OH.
While working closely with area hand surgeons, Vaughn specialized in tendon rehabilitation, custom splinting, and general upper extremity rehabilitation. Vaughn joined our Desert Hand Therapy team in 2014 and welcomes the opportunity to serve the hand therapy needs of the residents of Mesa.
Jake VanLeeuwen | OTR/L, CHT, CSCS
Jake received a B.S. in Physical Education from Northern Arizona University in 1991; aspiring to become part of the allied health profession, he worked as a physical therapy tech for the next several years at a sports medicine clinic in Phoenix and Sun City, AZ. During this period he was able to interact with a wide range of people including adolescents, athletes, working class people, and retirees. Here, he honed his skills interacting with people on an interpersonal level.
Jake became certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Urged by his dream of becoming an occupational therapist, he attended Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine Southwest Center in Phoenix, AZ. During this period, he was selected to the committee of students to be reviewed to credential this new program. Jake received a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 1998 and became a Certified Hand Therapist in 2005. Jake has since worked in Surprise, AZ for Desert Hand Therapy. Jake enjoys spending his weekends participating in outdoor activities with his son that includes fishing, camping, and bike riding.
Tom Conklin | COTA/L
Tom Conklin is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Tom received an Associate’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 1994. Prior to this, he worked as a therapy tech. This is where he developed an interest in helping people regain their physical health. Following graduation, Tom worked 13 years for an outpatient orthopedic clinic, where he specialized in upper extremity rehabilitation, with the last 5 years as clinic manager. Tom then spent 4 years working in a rehab hospital, helping patients improve life skills, strength, and overall function. Tom joined Desert Hand Therapy in 2011, where he has been at the Surprise office.
In his leisure time Tom enjoys woodworking, working out and spending time with family.
Tim Muldoon | MS, OTR/L, CHT
Tim earned his Masters of Occupational Therapy in 2013 from Grand Valley State University. He completed his B.S. in Health Management and a Minor in Public Health from The Ohio State University in 2011. Tim has been working in hand therapy since graduation. He enjoys working with all types of diagnoses, but has particular interest in treating fractures to the upper extremity.
Outside of work, Tim enjoys being active by playing hockey, golfing, hiking, exercising regularly, and spending time with his black lab named Finnegan.
Wanda Barth-Lindblom | PT, CHT
Wanda is a native of Canada growing up in Montreal. She completed a Bachelor of Physical Education – Majoring in Athletic Training and Conditioning in 1989, en route to complete a Bachelor of Science Physical Therapy in 1991 at the University of Alberta. She practiced for some 15 years in private practice treating sports injuries and workers compensation injuries in both Canada and the USA. Wanda developed an interest in Hand Therapy and became a Certified Hand Therapist in 2005. Wanda joined Desert Hand Therapy in 1996 and is passionate caring for traumatic injuries of the upper extremity.