Skip to main content

Occupational Therapy

Our skilled, outpatient occupational therapists evaluate and treat individuals across the lifespan to promote and maximize quality of life. We help our patients improve basic motor functions and cognitive abilities, as well as compensate for loss of function so that they can lead independent, productive and satisfying lives.

Occupational Therapists will use the following therapeutic interventions:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Training
  • Adaptive training and recommendation/fabrication of adaptive devices
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) Training, such as cooking, housekeeping, laundry
  • Caregiver and family members training
  • Cancer rehabilitation
  • Cognitive re-training to cope with job and Activities of Daily Living
  • Energy conservation, work simplification and joint protection education
  • Fine motor control and handwriting training
  • Functional Capacity Evaluation
  • Home exercise program
  • Mirror therapy
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Sensory training
  • Strength and endurance building
  • Stretching and relaxation
  • Visual perceptual training

We partner with physicians to create custom treatment plans for varying conditions including:

  • Arthritis
  • Amputations
  • Cancer
  • Congenital disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
  • Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease
  • Disabilities due to motor vehicle accidents or trauma
  • Difficulty returning to work
  • Difficulties performing activities of daily living, examples can include bathing, dressing, hygiene, toileting
  • Head injuries
  • Neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease
  • Post Neurosurgery such as arteriovenous malformation, cerebral edema, craniotomy
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke

Our Services

Children's Early Intervention

This program for infants, toddlers and young children with developmental disabilities includes a comprehensive evaluation by a physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech therapist, followed by an appropriate plan for continued therapy to help the child meet developmental milestones, help the family with care at home and help plan for the future in school. Our therapists work with children with a variety of diagnoses.

Pediatric Occupational Therapy

The goal of Pediatric Occupational Therapy is to assist in the facilitation of a child's growth in all areas including activities of daily living, home functioning and school functioning.
Direct communication with parents/guardians will determine the child and family's goals and priorities. Through individualized evaluations we integrate therapy to help maximize independence and increased participation in daily activities, including self-care, learning and play, skill building and confidence to thrive.

Significant benefits include:

  • Improved fine and gross motor skills
  • Increased visual perceptual skills
  • Improved self-regulation
  • Increased attention and focus
  • Higher self-esteem and confidence in approaching tasks
  • Improved social skills and social thinking development
  • Improved neuromuscular and developmental performance

Improvements have been shown in patients with the following:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Disorders
  • Genetic Syndromes (including Down Syndrome)
  • Neurological Conditions/Cerebral Palsy/Spina Bifida
  • Sensory Processing Disorders

Dysphagia

Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) can occur when the muscles and nerves we use to eat and swallow are affected as a result of medical or neurological issues, such as stroke, Parkinson's, dementia, cancer, etc. This may include muscles in the lips, tongue, or neck. Some swallowing problems may be obvious like drooling, coughing or choking but others may be harder to spot (e.g., feeling food stuck in the throat). Dysphagia can also lead to further medical issues such as malnutrition, dehydration or pneumonia.

Occupational therapists or speech therapists work with individuals with swallowing issues in order to assess and treat this condition. Treatment includes diet changes, exercise and muscle re-education, instruction on compensation strategies, and caregiver training, as appropriate. We also offer VitalStim therapy, a dysphagia treatment which uses small electrical currents to stimulate and re-educate the muscles involved in swallowing.

If a person shows any signs of eating or swallowing difficulty, it is important for swallowing to be tested. Ask your physician for a swallowing assessment.

Your Care Team

Choosing an occupational therapist for yourself or a loved one is an important decision that impacts in recovery. We dedicate ourselves to providing you with compassion and empathy throughout your care. Select an occupational therapist from the list below to learn more about their experience and expertise:

Livermore

Mei-Kuen Chung, OTR/L, CHT, CEAS

Biography

Mei graduated from the Occupational Therapy program in Hong Kong Polytechnic University and moved to California in the 1990’s. In 2014, she joined Valley Care and has worked in the outpatient, inpatient acute, and skilled nursing settings. With over 20 years of experience in multiple health settings including ICU, acute, rehab center, burns unit, home health and psychiatric inpatient, she is passionate about applying her wide range of clinical skills to direct patient care. She is a Certified Hand Therapist, Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist and is also certified in Saebo orthosis. She is also well versed in motor and sensory rehabilitation of stroke patients with various techniques including Mirror Therapy and Visual/Perceptual Training. She can speak Mandarin and Cantonese. Travelling and playing badminton are her favorite leisure activities.

Areas of Expertise
  • Hand Function training
  • Myofascial Decompression
  • Saebo orthosis
  • Stroke Rehab

Jenn DiGrazia MSOT/L, CHT

Biography

Jenn is an Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist, who graduated from Boston University. Jenn has been working in hand therapy since 2004. She has extensive orthotic fabrication skills and specializes in hand and elbow trauma including fractures, nerve and tendon reconstructions. She enjoys spending her free time with her family, fishing and travelling.

Areas of Expertise
  • Orthopedics
  • Stiff Hand
  • Repetitive Stress Injury
  • Hand and Elbow Trauma
  • Orthotic Fabrication
  • Post-Surgical Hand and Elbow Rehabilitation
  • Conservative Management of CMC Arthritis

Denice Nielson MOTR/L, CHT, CEAS

Biography

Denice studied Human Development and Music at U.C. Davis prior to discovering her passion for Occupational Therapy while working in a hand clinic as a therapy aide for four years. She returned to school and earned her Master's of Occupational Therapy degree from Samuel Merritt University in 1999. In 2000 she began working at ValleyCare, now Stanford Healthcare - ValleyCare. Outpatient hand therapy was so rewarding for Denice that she decided to pursue a specialty, and she became a Certified Hand Therapist in 2007. Denice is a Clinical Educator for Stanford-ValleyCare, running the Occupational Therapy student internship program and mentoring therapists interested in working toward advanced certifications. She is a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist (CEAS) and a STAR Certified Oncology Rehabilitation Clinician. When Denice is not healing hands, she enjoys coffee, music, sewing/crafts, pets and movies. She also actively volunteers with community events, fostering animals, and her children's schools/sports.

Areas of Expertise
  • Hand therapy
  • Ergonomics
  • Certified Oncology Rehabilitation for hand and upper extremity
  • Student and New therapist mentoring.

Jerry Paulo, OTR/L, CHT, CEES

Biography

Jerry graduated from San Jose State University in 1995 with a Bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy. He began his career working with inpatients and outpatients at the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. Jerry became a Certified Hand Therapist in 2001 and a Certified Ergonomic Evaluation Specialist in 2002. Jerry has been working at Stanford Health Care - ValleyCare since 2013. Jerry and his wife Lisa enjoy sharing backyard barbeques with friends and waterskiing, snowboarding and golfing with their two sons.

Areas of Expertise
  • Hand Therapy
  • Ergonomics

Dublin

Amanda Goff, OTR/L

Biography

Amanda was born and raised in the bay area. She attended Notre Dame de Namur University on a softball scholarship where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology. She then moved to Nashville, TN and attended Tennessee State University to pursue her Master of Occupational Therapy degree. She moved back to the Bay Area and has been a part of Stanford Health Care -ValleyCare's team since 2018. She is working on both our inpatient and outpatient teams as she treats a variety of patients/populations from pediatrics to geriatrics with a special interest in early childhood development. Outside of work, she is very active, enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family.

Areas of Expertise
  • Pediatrics
  • Acute Rehabilitation
  • Geriatric Rehabilitation

Krupa Kuruvilla, MA, OTR/L

Biography

Krupa has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2008, earning her bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy from India, and master's degree from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles in 2009. She has wide-ranging experience in adult and pediatric care locally as well as abroad, giving her the opportunity to work with diverse populations and cultures. She speaks four languages (English, Hindi, Gujrati, Marathi). She has worked her way up from staff positions to being the Director of Rehab at another organization; her passion, however, has always been pediatrics. Krupa is adept at evaluating and assessing various diagnoses including but not limited to Autism, ADHD, Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD), developmental delays, and feeding disorders. She is certified in the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) program and is trained in pediatric feeding, and always wants to explore new methods of evaluation and treatment. She is a big proponent of the use of technology and has been a tele-therapist for a while. She has been a clinical instructor for both Level 1 and 2 FW students, and has also been a mentor for new OT grads in the past and is extremely passionate about continuing that. In her free time, Krupa loves to learn different dance forms, new languages, read, watch movies, and spend time with her husband and two children.

Areas of Expertise
  • Certified in Handwriting Without Tears (HWT)
  • Developmental disorders, motor delays, down's syndrome, autism, sensory processing disorders
  • Mentoring new OT graduates

Sheetal Shah-Encarnacion, OTR/L

Biography

Sheetal received her degree in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University and has advanced certifications in dysphagia and physical agent modalities. She is also certified in the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (VitalStim) for use in dysphagia therapy. Sheetal has worked as an Occupational Therapist for over 20 years in multiple settings at ValleyCare: outpatient, inpatient, and rehab units. She loves applying her range of clinical skills while treating patients with dysphagia and neurological diagnoses. She loves to travel, hike, coach her kids on the tennis courts and is a very enthusiastic amateur photographer.

Areas of Expertise
  • Dysphagia therapy
  • VitalStim treatment for dysphagia
  • Stroke / Neurological rehab

Vanessa Weaver, MS, OTR/L

Biography

Vanessa was born and raised in the Bay Area. She attended San Francisco State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies in 2014. Following her undergraduate program, she worked as an occupational and physical therapist aide where her passion for the profession of occupational therapy was cemented. She went on to attend graduate school at San Jose State University and earned her Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2019. While attending SJSU she acquired clinical experience in a variety of settings including inpatient rehabilitation, pediatric, geriatric, and community based mental health with adults and children. Vanessa enjoys continuing her clinical education by exploring new evidenced-based treatment techniques through a variety of courses. She has always had a passion for working with children and she is excited to grow professionally at Stanford Healthcare - ValleyCare as a pediatric occupational therapist. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys tending to her houseplants and spending quality time outdoors with her husband, cat, and dog.

Area of Expertise
  • Pediatrics