Meet Our Staff
Amber Nivens, OTD,OTR/L
Amber attended Northern Arizona University, earning a doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2018. She then completed her residency at Maricopa Integrated Health System in an outpatient orthopedic hand clinic. Amber treats patients, in her own community, ages two and older with varying diagnoses including congenital, orthopedic, and neurologic conditions. Amber aims to obtain her CHT (Certified Hand Therapist) certification within the next two years. She has taken continuing education courses with an emphasis on the use of Graston IASTM, and the Casting Motion to Mobilize (CMMS) the stiff hand, and Kinesiotaping for the upper extremity. Amber enjoys spending time with her husband of 20 years and three children, four-wheeling, racing the family car as well as cooking and watching movies.
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 which 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 a 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.
14239 West Bell Road, Suite 110
Surprise, AZ 85374