I grew up on Auckland's North Shore and qualified as a physiotherapist in 2001 from AUT. I have been working as a hand therapist since 2006 and became fully registered in 2008.
I began my physiotherapy career as a rotational physiotherapist at Waikato Hospital in 2002 and then later at North Shore Hospital. In 2004 I then spent a year working for the NHS around England and Scotland. Working in the hospital system both here and abroad was invaluable in giving me a good understanding of a broad range of health conditions and their management having spent time on cardiothoracic, neurological and orthopaedic medical and surgical wards.
After 6 months travelling around Europe/America and South Africa I returned to New Zealand and began working at a large specialist hand therapy clinic in West Auckland. I completed my hand therapy training at AUT during this time and became a fully registered Hand Therapist in 2008. I then continued to study at AUT and completed a Masters of Health Practice and Post-Graduate Certificate in Health Science in Western Acupuncture in 2010.
I have continued to work as a hand therapist for the past 15 years, I was working as a locum hand therapist for a number of practices around Auckland, before joining Odele here at O Hands, and now Ellen who has joined us from Takapuna Hand Therapy.
Stephanie Mitchell Registered Hand Therapist BHSc (Physiotherapy) MHPrac (Rehabilitation)
My family immigrated from The Netherlands when I was 4 years old, and settled on Auckland’s North Shore where I grew up.
I qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1991 from AUT, and later went back to do a Post Graduate diploma in Hand & Upper Limb Therapy in 1999, and complete a Master of Health Science in 2004.
I was introduced to acute post-op hand injuries while working on the Burns & Plastics wards at Middlemore Hospital, moving into the role of section Physiotherapist of the Hand Therapy unit in 1994. I have been a fully registered Hand Therapist since 2000.
Learning my hand therapy skills in a hospital environment gave me a broad base of knowledge ranging from burns and scar management, wound care and complex hand injury management. Hospitals are also training institutions, giving me the opportunity to get involved in teaching dozens of therapists who spent time in the unit gaining skills in this fascinating specialised field of rehabilitation of the hand and upper limb.
As well as Middlemore Hospital, I also spent time working in the hand therapy units at both Whangarei and Waikato Hospitals.
After working in a private Hand Therapy practice in Perth WA for 18 months, I returned to NZ to open my own private clinic close to my home in Takapuna.
For the past 12 years I have been a sole practitioner running my clinic – Takapuna Hand Therapy - from a character villa in Belmont, mostly servicing the Peninsula between Devonport and Takapuna.
Sadly, the villa was sold to developers, and I closed my practice in March 2021, joining the team at O Hands on Shakespeare Road in Milford. It is good to be working alongside other hand therapists and getting involved in teaching and training again.
Many of my patients from Takapuna Hand Therapy have either “followed” me or “found” me in Milford. I am passionate about hand therapy and I hope to be able to continue offering my patients the expertise I have gained in this field over the past 25 plus years.
Ellen van Essen NZRP
Registered Hand Therapis (HTNZ)
PGD (Hand & Upper Limb)
I was born and raised on Auckland's North Shore and qualified as a Physiotherapist from AUT in 1994. I first worked at North Shore Hospital, then National women's before venturing to the United Kingdom to work as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist for 2 years. I also spent a year in India working in a voluntary capacity in a leprosy hospital. This leprosy work opened my eyes to the huge value quality hand therapy can have - even in the most tragic situations.
I returned to NZ in 1998 and worked for AUT as a clinical educator for several years and in 2001 started working in the specialist area of hand therapy and have remained in this specialty area since. I became a fully registered Hand Therapist in 2004. I have worked with the Hand Therapy Department and Burns Plastics Unit at Middlemore Hospital and various private Hand Therapy clinics around Auckland.
In addition to my clinical work I have enjoyed several teaching roles. Since 2007 I have been part of the AUT post-graduate Hand Therapy adjunct teaching team. I have also had the priviledge to teach the Acute Hand Management component for the NZ Royal College of Urgent Care Practioners training program since 2014 . More recently in October 2015, I was asked to teach a practical course on “The management of common hand and wrist conditions” in Dubai (Dubai Physiotherapy clinic which also services Emirates flight attendant staff).
It's a Shore thing!
In 2013 I set up a new hand therapy service in Silverdale, in 2016 I returned to Milford and its surrounds where I grew up and have spent much of my life.
So I am back on the North Shore and keen to continue to help those with Leprosy. I am currently vice-Chair of the Leprosy Mission NZ and will be donating $5 to the Leprosy Mission for every new patient seen at O Hands.