Meet the Therapy Pro Brisbane Therapists

An image of Penny Cosh who is disability support service provider Therapy Pro's Brisbane early childhood specialist social worker

Penny Cosh, early childhood specialist social worker

Penny Cosh has helped bring clarity, sense and confidence to hundreds of south-east Queensland families during her social work career of more than 12 years.

Just as she was the ‘go to’ person called on to support adults and children in health crises at major metropolitan hospitals—and for more than a decade with Disability Services—she’s now Therapy Pro’s Brisbane early childhood specialist social worker.

Penny brings a delicate blend of empathy and comfort with no-nonsense practicalities when parents or carers of children with a disability need to make informed decisions.

She creates a safe space in a world that may have just been turned upside down and inside out, steering clients through a bewildering maze of services, networks and supports.

“Parents need to have the right information at the right time so that they can make the best decisions for their family,” she says.

“Good therapy intervention and support are critical, particularly in the early days but also during times of transition and significant milestones such as starting kindy or school, or parents returning to work.”

Penny’s role complements and supports Therapy Pro’s other therapists—psychologists, speech and language pathologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists— who may be working with your family.

Penny has a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Social Work.

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An image of Luke Desmond is a psychologist (provisional) with Therapy Pro's Logan and Brisbane teams.

Luke Desmond, psychologist (provisional)

Therapy Pro psychologist (provisional) Luke Desmond has seen enough of life to realise people can make life more complicated than it is. That’s why he adopts a KISS approach to his work, favouring Keep It Simple Strategies that can be applied readily to everyday life.

Luke works with children, teenagers and adults, helping improve emotional regulation, develop personal coping strategies, improve relationships and change or challenge unhelpful thoughts or behaviours.

He has particular experience supporting clients with mental illness or intellectual disability, and their families, working in both behaviour support and counselling roles.

Luke enjoys seeing the way positive behaviour support can enhance clients’ quality of life.

He’s helped many clients overcome their anxieties—whether scared of things or situations, fearful of being criticised or embarrassed by others or excessively worried about lots of ‘stuff’ in life.

In counselling Luke draws on a range of psychological techniques including acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.

Luke holds graduate diploma in psychology and a master’s degree in psychology from University of New England.

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An image of Kate Chalker is a speech and language pathologist who works for Therapy Pro in Brisbane region.

Kate Chalker, speech and language pathologist

Therapy Pro’s Kate Chalker is a second-generation champion of disability rights, inspired by family to pursue a therapy career that could have life-changing impacts.

Kate chose to study speech and language pathology after seeing the difference it made for a young cousin born with a cleft palate.

“I saw his personality grow, and his confidence too, as he conquered speech difficulties and I still feel pride in the effort put in to achieve hard-won results,” she says.

As a speech and language pathologist, Kate evaluates a client’s speech, language, fluency, literacy, voice and swallowing skills and develops an individualised plan to address development or disorders.

Her expertise extends to non-verbal communications, helping clients choose assistive technologies that can positively affect the rest of their lives.

Kate brings a variety of experiences to her role with Therapy Pro. In working with children, she’s undertaken many assessments of age-appropriate milestones as well as screening of children for autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Work with adults has included helping people learn how to swallow safely after experiencing stroke, traumatic brain injury or cancers of the head and neck.

Communication is a two-way street. While Kate has helped adult clients reconnect with those around them using assistive technologies, she’s also worked with their partners, helping family, friends and carers better communicate too.

Kate is a graduate of Charles Sturt University in Albury.

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An image of Sara Madsen is an occupational therapist who works in Brisbane with Therapy Pro.

Sara Madsen, occupational therapist

Sara Madsen has made it one of her life’s goals to help improve the daily living and general well-being of people with profound challenges.

 

Sara graduated as an occupational therapist in 1999 and has worked in the disability sector since 2006, working with children and adults across a variety of settings to improve their well-being and independence.

Sara’s area of speciality is positive behaviour support, reducing and eliminating restrictive practices and achieving long-term sustainable support practices.

Since 2013, she has been drawn to adults with severe and profound disability, often non-verbal, with extremely challenging behaviours and multiple diagnoses who live in supported accommodation.

“With the right support and the right environment, a client’s needs can be met, and they can thrive,” Sara maintains.

“My role is to assess the client’s needs, be they physical, psychological or environmental, and support the client by educating, supporting and skilling the funded care providers and family members who together are the support team.

“My passion is for building a physical and psychological environment around the person, assisting them to thrive.

“People do not live and operate in silos: we interact and are impacted on by our environment and the people and structures around us. When a person is non-verbal or has difficulty identifying and/or communicating their needs and wishes, this becomes so much more important.”

Sara is a University of Queensland graduate.

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An image of Kirsty Atkinson is a social worker with Therapy Pro, working in the Brisbane region.

Kirsty Atkinson, social worker

Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Kirsty Atkinson seeks to support clients live their ‘everyday’ to their best, every day.

As a social worker, Kirsty achieves positive results for clients by listening and acting in their best interests.

She’s like the sports coach in the changeroom urging family, carers, friends and other supports to pull together for ‘Team Individual’.

She’s there in the huddle with trustworthy information and counselling skills, supporting clients and their families to build on skills and live the best life possible.

“Theories in textbooks are guides—everybody is unique, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ in life but working in the same direction with the same goal helps!” Kirsty says.

Kirsty has worked with government disability services in two states, working with children and adults to support their needs, goals and aspirations.

She can stand beside clients in times of change—like moving from school to employment—and in times of crisis too.

“Let’s focus together on your strengths and work with those around you to improve your independence, relationships and everyday living.”

Kirsty holds a Bachelor of Social Work with honours from the University of South Australia.

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An image of Kirstie Hinsley is an occupational therapist with Therapy Pro.

Kirstie Hinsley, occupational therapist

Therapy Pro’s Kirstie Hinsley is a dedicated occupational therapist with almost 20 years’ experience. Kirstie can help you improve daily living functions—like bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, walking—through assessment and appropriately tailored intervention.

She also helps clients with aids and equipment assessments and may make recommendations for modifications at home to improve independence and safety.

Needing to unwind and relax more? Suffering anxiety? Kirstie knows the difference between being mindful and having a mind that’s full and loves sharing relaxation techniques.

UK-trained Kirstie draws on experience in hospital settings and community, as well as private practice, working with clients who have needed post-surgical rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation for acquired brain injury and dementia, and mental health support.

She’s excited about providing the occupational therapy you need, when and where you need it.

“You’re in the driver’s seat in your own environment.”

Kirstie’s happy to be in the passenger seat, helping you navigate to better results for independent living.

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An image of Maree Kasberger, a psychologist with Therapy Pro.

Maree Kasberger, psychologist

Psychologist Maree Kasberger joins Therapy Pro with a track record to support her belief in achieving positive change in clients’ lives.

Maree can help Therapy Pro clients with psychological assessments and interventions, behavioural support and advice including writing and developing Positive Behaviour Support Plans, individual and family counselling and psychometric assessments.

She brings more than a decade’s experience working with individuals who have physical injury, mental illness, chronic illness or addictions as part of employment services, workplace employee assistance and occupational rehabilitation programs.

Maree has particular expertise in work assessments and job-readiness skills acquisition, as well as stress management techniques.

“Confidence, self-esteem and motivation are all facets of life I enjoy exploring with clients – and growing.”

Maree holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Counselling from Australian Catholic University.

As a crafter in her spare time, Maree  gets immense pleasure in turning fabrics, yarns and threads into items that stand out for their uniqueness. It’s a passion reflected in her professional life too, helping individuals see their uniqueness positively.

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An image of Nancye Richardson is an occupational therapist with Therapy Pro's Brisbane and Gold Coast teams.

Nancye Richardson, occupational therapist

Nancye Richardson has worked in the disability sector for more than a decade, using her skills as an occupational therapist to achieve positive outcomes for both child and adult clients.

While activities like dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, sleeping and sitting are everyday tasks for many people, her clients can find them challenging.

Nancye enjoys working in partnership with clients and their support network to identify and understand client priorities, goals and ways that they can use their skills and interests to increase their participation in everyday activities.

Support to adult clients may include equipment and assistive technology, manual handling techniques, safe travel options, continence and ways to develop specific skills.

Nancye is also passionate about providing tailored early intervention support to children who have disabilities (and often complex medical needs) and their families.

When working with children, Nancye believes in play-based learning and seeks family involvement so that play therapy activities can be incorporated in their everyday routines.

“Therapy needs to be fun as children learn through play. It is not an isolated activity with just me and the child. Family involvement is really important,” she says.

Nancye is a James Cook University graduate.

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An image of Isabella Wise is a speech and language pathologist with Therapy Pro in Brisbane.

Isabella Wise, speech and language pathologist

As a speech and language pathologist, Therapy Pro’s Isabella Wise understands the importance of mealtimes and communication for her clients.

Izzy’s role involves assessing and addressing challenges that affect literacy, language development, the formation of sounds, words and sentences and swallowing.

She can also prescribe aids to provide alternative non-verbal communication—and solutions are not always high-tech: “I can work magic with Velcro and laminate!” she says of her practical approach.

Izzy has worked in speech therapy roles in hospital and community settings; most recently, exclusively in the disability sector, supporting children and adults with speech, swallowing and communication challenges.

While supporting children and adolescents in their homes as well as at schools and child care centres, Izzy enjoys spreading understanding of alternative communication methods and ways to support communication with parents and other family members, child care workers and teachers.

Izzy is a University of Queensland graduate.

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An image of Jen Ryan, speech and language pathologist with Therapy Pro

Jen Ryan, speech and language pathologist (lead therapist)

Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Jen Ryan helps her clients find’ their voice. A speech and language pathologist, Jen works with children and adults who have communication challenges or swallowing difficulties.

Jen can assess and address challenges impacting language development, mealtimes, swallowing and literacy.

Jen has worked in the disability sector as a ‘speechie’ since 2004. She brings a wealth of experience and insights from supporting clients with speech and swallowing challenges brought about by a range of disabilities including intellectual and physical disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury.

Engaging and approachable, trusted and practical, Jen has a personality that sparkles–sometimes her face does too courtesy of glitter from her homelife.

“I value family time personally and that influences how I work with families. I better appreciate parents’ concerns and time pressures,” she says.

Therapy sessions with clients are fun, involving everyday activities, often with siblings, parents, carers or friends too so that ‘homework’ becomes part of everyday living rather than a chore.

She can also prescribe technological aids to provide alternative non-verbal communication.

Jen’s expertise is highly regarded in her profession: she’s been a university clinical educator helping train undergraduate students and she’s Therapy Pro’s ‘lead speech and language therapist’, ensuring our best practice delivery of speech and language therapy through clinical supervision.

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An image of Jennifer Nelson, occupational therapist with Therapy Pro

Jennifer Nelson, occupational therapist

For more than a decade, Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Jennifer (Jen) Nelson has drawn inspiration from the people she’s worked alongside who have disabilities.

Jen is an occupational therapist, a practical professional whose focus is on helping her clients achieve their goals in daily tasks.

For an OT, that may be anything from bathing, dressing and eating to being more attentive in a classroom or getting into the driver’s seat of a car.

She is also a qualified sensory integration practitioner.

Jen has worked with children and adults in Queensland and the United Kingdom, in hospital, community, school and government agency settings.

She has particular experience with children and young people diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with intellectual impairment, working with them both at home and in school settings.

“I was drawn to a career helping people and swore I would continue for as long as I cared. I get a thrill, sense of joy, in seeing the difference an intervention—whether it’s a different strategy or technique or aid—makes to a person’s life,” Jen says.

“Every single client has different dreams and goals. What’s important to you is what becomes my focus.

“I particularly love children’s spunk—their stories, their attitude. Whether it’s managing a star jump or toileting, the look of achievement, the satisfaction on the client’s face, is gold!”

Jen is a James Cook University graduate with post-graduate certification from Ulster University.

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An image of Marta Baraka, speech and language pathologist with Therapy Pro

Marta Barake, speech and language pathologist

Over the past decade or so, Marta Barake has often found herself in the homes of clients at mealtimes but it’s not been an inconvenience! She’s responded to an SOS from parents dealing with ‘fussy eaters’.

 

Marta, a speech and language pathologist, is trained in sequential oral sensory feeding (SOS), using techniques that are particularly helpful for some people diagnosed on the autism spectrum who cannot tolerate certain textured or coloured food.

It’s just one of the areas of expertise Marta has developed in a career that has seen her work with children and adults in community and government agencies, private practice and schools, addressing communication, speech, language and swallowing needs.

Her work includes prescribing technological aids to provide alternative non-verbal communication.

Another specialist skill she’s developed particularly benefits people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease who may find their voice becomes softer or breathy or hoarse.

Originally from El Salvador, Marta speaks Spanish and English fluently and can provide therapy sessions in either—or both—language.

A University of Queensland graduate, Marta shares her professional gifts during time out, volunteering in overseas orphanages to help children with speech and feeding difficulties.

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An image of Cathy Davidson, psychologist with Therapy Pro with Therapy Pro

Cathy Davidson, psychologist

Therapy Pro psychologist Cathy Davidson believes that learning to bounce through life’s up and down challenges and changes makes a big difference to life satisfaction and quality.

It’s a lesson originally learned quite literally as a competitive trampoline gymnast and adapted since becoming a professional psychologist almost a decade ago.

As a registered psychologist, Cathy works with children, teenagers and adults, helping them address mental health and emotional and behavioural challenges.

She can help Therapy Pro clients with psychological assessments and interventions, behavioural support and advice including writing and developing Positive Behaviour Support Plans, individual and family counselling and psychometric assessments.

Cathy often works with clients who have anxiety or depression or who seek to improve their self-regulation, social skills, self-esteem or behavioural challenges.

She’s successfully worked with clients unable to communicate verbally.

Cathy will find ways to connect and support you that may not be textbook. Yes, she has literally bounced on a trampoline with a client throughout a session because that’s what the client wanted to do. Yes, she’s fired Nerf gun darts with another client. And she’s sat and listened without judgement.

“I’m passionate about helping people reach their full potential and meet their goals,” she says.

“It won’t just ‘happen’. It takes time to connect, to gain trust, and to understand, and then to put into effect solutions that bring about real change.”

Cathy gained her postgraduate professional psychology qualifications with the University of Southern Queensland.

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An image of Dresden Serna, physiotherapist with Therapy Pro

Dresden Serna, physiotherapist

Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Dresden Serna brings physiotherapy to the door of clients of all ages.

Dresden has extensive experience working with children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, helping clients improve their postural control and movement. These, she says, are the building blocks of movement for function—including oral control, use of hands and for mobility.

She’s known for creative solutions, backed by evidence, that support clients to work towards their goals and enable functional treatment programs to be adapted into day to day situations.

Dresden can prescribe appropriate aids and equipment to maximise mobility, independence and quality of life too.

Dresden has spent much of the past 15 years focusing on early intervention, working with babies, toddlers and children aged under seven and their family care-givers.

“I am a piece in the puzzle but the family, and all who support and care for a child, complete the picture,” she says.

Dresden has helped many clients transition to significant milestones in their lives.

Originally from the Philippines, where she gained a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy, Dresden came to Australia in 1999 and undertook further professional training at the University of Queensland.

Dresden has delivered community-based physiotherapy for clients with disabilities since 2002.

As for her unusual first name, it is the name of a city in Germany– and somewhere that’s on her bucket list to visit.

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An image of Jodie Dobson is a specialist paediatric occupational therapist working in the Brisbane NDIS region as part of Therapy Pro.

Jodie Dobson, paediatric occupational therapist

Jodie Dobson previously worked in her hometown of Toowoomba as Therapy Pro’s first specialist paediatric occupational therapist. Occupational therapists are daily life specialists, supporting clients to ‘do’ more independently.

Jodie works specifically with children, helping them to develop their daily living tasks including dressing, toileting, bathing, exploring, eating, sitting, sleeping, going to school, making friends and playing.

“I love occupational therapy because it is about the everyday—helping individuals achieve more of the things they must do, need to do and want to do,” Jodie says.

“I help children build foundation skills for their daily activities.

“Play is up there as a need and a want because it’s through play that children learn so much about the world, other people and themselves.”

While Jodie is experienced in assessing and tailoring interventions for children who present with developmental delays and children who have physical or intellectual disabilities, her expertise is working children who have autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing difficulties and their families.

She understands that the world as she sees it is not the same for her young clients—it can be too loud, too cold, too prickly, too…much. Jodie helps families to understand their children and helps her young clients cope better with their challenges so that they can take part in activities to the best of their abilities.

Jodie gained her post-graduate certification in sensory integration from Ulster University while working in the United Kingdom, supporting children within the home and classroom.

She’s a University of Queensland graduate and has recently relocated to Brisbane.

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An image of psychologist Annie Sacurom with Therapy Pro

Annie Sacurom, psychologist

When she’s not pushing her own personal boundaries rock climbing or with bikram yoga, psychologist Annie Sacurom is looking for ways to improve the lives of others.

“I see my role as a catalyst to building relationships. Relationships with the client, their family, support workers and carers, and helping to strengthen those relationships to provide the best quality of life for the client.”

Annie has worked with young children and adults, during her time at the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and prior to that in her work experience at Headspace.

“Connecting all the supports around a person and helping each of those supports to work with each other, helping them to understand the benefit if we all work together is very important.”
“I enjoy looking at the way all the perspectives can come together, complementing each one to ultimately get the most benefit for the client. It’s very rewarding.”

Annie’s specific area of interest is developing Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) plans, and helping people understand restrictive practices and the legal requirements in this area.

“When I completed PBS training and it really sparked my interest. It opened a door to another world with many possibilities, I could really see ways to work with clients to improve their lives and the lives of their family.”

Approaching therapy in a client-centred way, Annie asks many questions to help build rapport but to also establish an evidence base from which to build on. Annie believes that starting the session with a smile makes a huge difference to how people respond.

Describing herself as realistically optimistic, Annie looks for the strengths of each client. To help people get what they want out of life, Annie uses the skills and strengths they already have and her knowledge to develop tools they can use to approach situations more confidently.

“It’s important to focus on a person’s strengths and develop those strengths to help influence and work on other areas.”

Annie studied at Australian Catholic University and completed her post-graduate studies at University of Southern Queensland.

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An image of Kristy Rodrigues, Psychologist with Therapy Pro

Kristy Rodrigues, provisional psychologist

Psychologist Kristy believes everyone should have a toolkit. Not one that you typically wear around your waist but a personal one filled with go-to strategies, reachable goals, and accessible resources and support network to help you with life’s challenges.

‘Quality of life is really important, and it goes hand in hand with mental wellbeing.’

‘I thrive on developing a great rapport with my clients and their families, to help gain insight into their strengths, skills and needs to develop their toolkit and individualise their support.’

Skilled in positive behaviour support and intervention, Kristy’s experience draws from working with many families who have children with a disability, as well as children who have experienced trauma, and families impacted by mental health, substance misuse and intergenerational trauma.

Kristy is studying a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy to develop specialised skills in this area.

With a friendly, engaging and empathetic personality, Kristy is able to work closely with people from all backgrounds and embraces individual differences.

‘I absolutely believe in obtaining the best outcome for the person, the goal that they are working towards, whatever that might be. I work in a holistic manner through being client and family focused. It’s really important to engage all aspects of their life in achieving this goal.’

When she’s not at work developing people’s toolkits, Kristy likes to hit the gym, relax and revitalise her mind with yoga or enjoy some music, a movie, a good read or being with her family out in the sunshine, trying new experiences and making memories.

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An image of Angela ONeill psychologist with Therapy Pro

Angela O’Neill, psychologist

Angela O’Neill is a psychologist with a simple aim, to help people live a happy life. With a background in mental health, Angela helps uncover why people may feel the way they do.

‘I work with people to help process feelings like being overwhelmed. If we understand why we feel or behave in a certain way, then we can start to see if there is a better way to deal with and change those feelings or behaviours.’

For people with a history of trauma or a mental health diagnosis, the challenge to be happy is often quite complex. Angela acknowledges this, and takes a strength based approach. She uses mindfulness techniques to support people to build on the elements in their lives that are currently working for them and help them learn to live in the moment.

Angela is skilled in working with people to help make better life choices. Since becoming a psychologist seven years ago, Angela has worked with people experiencing mental health concerns from chronic pain, and in residential care, with families of young people who have an offending history, long-term unemployed people, and families and individuals that have experienced trauma.

‘I find it rewarding to talk with people to help them from within the chaos and stress they find themselves. I help them to recognise that it’s okay to stop the things that don’t work for them and focus on building something that is much more fulfilling.’

Psychology is Angela’s second career. Before studying at the University of Canberra, Bond University and University of Southern Queensland, Angela managed projects, programs and developed policy in government to support families to resolve challenges relating to parenting, domestic violence and child abuse.

When she’s not working, Angela loves spending time with her husband and two children, travelling, going to the beach and reading.

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An image of Speech therapist David Vann with Therapy Pro

David Vann, speech and language pathologist

In a parallel universe, David Vann may be a member of The Wiggles: he’s musical, he’s playful and he captivates children’s attention.

We’re glad he’d rather be a Therapy Pro speech and language pathologist!

While David has extensive experience working with speech fluency and language difficulties faced by clients of all ages, it’s with children that he’s found greatest resonance.

“I seek to look at the world from my client’s viewpoint, find what captures their interest and work to build their attention, their interest and their involvement with others through that interest,” he says.

Working with child, teenage and adult clients, David can assess speech, language and swallowing difficulties, present practical strategies to suit everyday living, and prescribe technological aids for alternative non-verbal communication, as needed.

Many of his clients have complex multiple diagnoses and varying needs. In working with children and young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), for example, he’s helped strengthen their ability to deal with change or interact socially, as well as improve sensory processing.

David is passionate about the role parents, family members and significant others play in his clients’ lives and keenly involves them.

He’s also fascinated by research and new treatments for stuttering.

David is a University of Sydney graduate.

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Keeva Simon, occupational therapist

Keeva Simon comes to Therapy Pro with serious credentials as a motivator and sideline cheer squad leader who gets results.

Before becoming an occupational therapist, Keeva worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, specialist rehabilitation trainer, group exercise instructor and manager.

She had a particular interest, back then, in working with clients who had rehabilitation needs and Keeva learned how to help people focus past their barriers and stay motivated to make a difference.

Her commitment to helping others live safely and independently inspired Keeva’s career change, achieved through the University of the Sunshine Coast. Keeva Graduated with research honours.

She’s since delivered OT services mainly to adults in the community.

Keeva works with children, teenagers and adults, helping to improve your daily living activities—from personal hygiene to eating, socialising and community access—through assessment and appropriately tailored intervention.

She also can help clients find the ‘best fit’ wheelchair and prescribe aids and equipment that help improve independence.

Keeva continues to pursue further education, studying a Master’s of Advanced Health Care.

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