Occupational Therapy

  • Achieve greater function in everyday activities by improving range of motion, fine and gross motor coordination, increasing endurance and strength
  • Restore, maintain, or improve daily living skills (bathing, dressing)
  • Prevent further problems through health education (energy conservation, joint protection, work simplification)

Hand Therapy: our occupational therapists/Certified Hand Therapists have extensive training and experience in treating patients with problems of the hand and upper extremity. Our therapists can assist patients in regaining maximum function of their hand and arm following injury or surgery, including fabrication of upper extremity custom orthoses. Our staff communicates closely with our referring hand surgeons and physicians.

Neurorehabilitation: our occupational therapists can help patients with neurological diagnoses achieve a higher level of independence through, but not limited to: activities of daily living training, coordination, motor control and planning, strength, mobility, balance, safety training, and arm function.

Pediatric Therapy(Harris, Franklin & Cullowhee): pediatric occupational therapy helps children develop the basic sensory awareness and motor skills needed for motor development, learning and healthy behavior. These include but are not limited to: body awareness, coordination, motor control and planning, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, and visual perceptual skills. 
          Pediatric Intake Form

Common Upper Extremity Diagnoses seen may include:

  • Tendinitis
  • Repetitive Motion injury/Arthritis
  • Wrist Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Ligament Injuries (sprains/strains)
  • Fractures & Crush Injuries
  • Tendon & Nerve Repair
  • Amputations
  • Sports Injuries Involving the Upper Extremity

Other Diagnoses seen but not limited to:

  • CVA (Stroke)
  • Head Trauma/Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Our Team:

Ellen Meekins, MHS, OTR/L, CHT

Ellen has been an OT since 1989 and Certified Hand Therapist with experience in helping people achieve their highest level of improvement for getting back to doing valued activities.  Ellen’s  areas of special interests include working with upper extremity injuries from trauma as well as repetitive motion and arthritis.  Ellen earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1989 and a Master in Health Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida in 2010. She also achieved the clinical specialty of becoming a Certified Hand Therapist in 1994. Ellen had previously worked for nine years as the Occupational Therapy Team Coordinator at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and is happy to return to the beautiful mountains with her husband and teenage daughter.


Megan Russell, MS, OT, CHT

Megan is a licensed Occupational Therapist and has been practicing since 2004. She has her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, from Carthage College in WI, and a degree in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a Certified Hand Therapist, meaning that she has specialized in the treatment of upper extremity orthopedic and neurological disorders. She is in the process of expanding her practice to include the treatment of pediatric/developmental diagnoses and is excited to integrate her orthopedic and psychology backgrounds.  She recently moved to Cullowhee, NC, from the Chicago area, and is looking forward to milder winters. And no, she does not miss Chicago traffic. She enjoys exercise, the arts, and spending time with her husband and two young boys.

Kelsea Sonnier, MOTR/L

Kelsea received her masters in OT from the University of St Augustine Florida, graduating with high honors and a scholastic achievement award in 2014. She began her career at Florida Hospital practicing in outpatient ortho/neuro and inpatient care. Currently, Kelsea treats primarily hand/upper extremity cases as well as neuro. Kelsea was born and raised in northern Minnesota with a passion for the outdoors. 


How to Prepare:

  • To help us provide you with the highest quality of care, please arrive 15 minutes prior to your first scheduled appointment to complete paperwork, etc. Please bring your identification and insurance card.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing as your active participation is vital to your success!
  • Services provided are covered by most private insurances, as well as Medicare when ordered by a physician. You are encouraged to check with your insurance company for your personal situation. 

What to expect:

  • Friendly, highly-trained and licensed therapists who are prepared to meet your needs
  • A comprehensive evaluation including establishment of rehabilitation goals and an individualized treatment plan on your first day
  • A better understanding of your conditions and your rehabilitation options
  • It is important that you attend each scheduled appointment in order to speed your recovery. If you must cancel, we ask you do so as soon as possible, so that we may assist others.


Additional Information/Links:

“Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health” – Mary Reilly

“Occupational therapy practitioners ask, “What matters to you” not, “What’s the matter with you?” – AOTA president Ginny Stoffel

Our Rehab Services Team:

Beth Baxley, MS, CCC-SLP
Erin Bock, PT, DPT
Missa Branscum, PTA
Andy Burke, PT, DPT
Lauren Carnes, PT, MPT, CLT 
Angela Conley, PT, CHT
Sandy Davis, PT, MPT, PCS, MSW 
Tracy Extine, PTA 
Heather Farson, PT, MPT, LAT, ATC 
Leslie Hall, PTA
Jude Hammond, PT, CMT
Faye Harris, PTA
Ashley Hyatt, PT, DPT, NCS
Joshua Jones, DPT, OCS, DAC
Ellen Meekins, MHS, OTR/L, CHT
Catherine Overbay, MA, CCC-SLP 
Cara Perciaccanto, PTA
Tim Robinson, PTA
Megan Russell, MS, OT, CHT
Lauren Sides, PT, MPT, CLT
Kelsea Sonnier, MOTR/L
Jake Watkins, PT, DPT
Todd Watson, PT, DPT 
Sherri Watterson, PTA, CLT 
Dave Wheatley PTA
Carlos Wilson, PT, MPT


Swain Community Hospital
45 Plateau St.
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone: 828.488.4009
Fax: 828.488.4256

Harris Regional Hospital
68 Hospital Road
Sylva, NC 28779
Phone: 828.586.7235
Fax: 828.586.7227

Franklin Medical Park
55 Holly Springs Dr.
Franklin, NC 28744
Phone: 828.349.5027
Fax: 828.349.5035

Harris Sports Medicine &Physical
Therapy: Western Carolina University,
Health & Human Sciences Bldg.

3971 Little Savannah Road, Suite 113
Cullowhee, NC 28723
Phone: 828.293.5174
Fax: 828.293.0440