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An OTR With Specialization in Hand Trauma Prioritizes Mental Health With Clinical Care Protocols to Ensure Treatment of the Whole Person

Dr. Jennifer Dodson is an OTR specializing in the care of individuals undergoing serious hand injuries following complex major trauma.

Jennifer Dodson

Jennifer Dodson, OTD, OTR/L, CHT

Certified Hand Therapist, Clinical Specialist I, OrthoCarolina

Location: North Carolina

Certified in 1999

2021 NBCOT Impact Award Winner

A Practice Specialization + Mental Health Advocacy = Notable Impact for Clients

Dr. Jennifer Dodson is an OTR specializing in the care of individuals undergoing serious hand injuries following complex major trauma. A master clinician in an extremely specialized and rigorous practice area, Dr. Dodson’s expertise transcends clinical protocols.

Dr. Dodson’s impact on her clients is most notable in her ability to always integrate psychological well-being with physical recovery. Although this may seem quite common for an occupational therapy approach, the demanding and fast-paced nature of hand therapy, which is driven by clinical protocols, makes prioritizing mental health and tailoring clinical interventions a challenge for therapists. Dr. Dodson, however, has been an advocate for mental health awareness in this practice area throughout her more than two decades of practice.

Clients and families appreciate Dr. Dodson’s attention to the assessment and treatment of mental health issues that accompany complex hand conditions. Individuals who are recovering from complex traumatic injuries need occupational therapy care during acute and chronic phases of the condition, and an enthusiastic and supportive therapist like Dr. Dodson can impact their quality of life. Dr. Dodson’s clients value her therapeutic use of self, coaching, and wellness approaches that uniquely address their needs.

“Having gone through [an injury] in the past where no one checked on how I was doing mentally, it was great to know that there was someone who cared about that and not just my hand. Having both the physical and mental parts of this being worked on definitely helped me get better faster.”

Client of NBCOT Impact Award winner Jennifer Dodson

A female OTR grasps an arm in an orthosis. OrthoCarolina, You. Improved. projects on a laptop screen next to the OTR.
Dr. Dodson working with a client.

Research and Mentorship to Impact Future OTRs

Dr. Dodson is also making an impact in the field of occupational therapy through her research in complex traumatic hand injuries. Her collaboration with the Research Institute at OrthoCarolina fosters her research interests. Her studies focus on the clinical practice patterns of occupational therapists working with serious hand injuries. The findings from her research will greatly impact occupational therapy practice both at an entry-level and for advanced specialty care. Her grasp on the literature surrounding hand injuries has resulted in many invited talks and conference presentations.

Dr. Dodson’s impact also extends to her colleagues as she encourages the use of evidence-based practice and fosters an inclusive work environment. She has nurtured therapists from diverse backgrounds throughout her career. She makes a conscious effort to understand the cultural backgrounds of clients and colleagues alike, thereby encouraging an inclusive environment at the clinic.

“Jennifer is a master clinician who engages in teaching students, therapists, and surgeons. She… [recognizes] the gaps in the care of individuals with complex hand injuries and has designed a research project to understand the clinical practice patterns. She has been an inspiration to clients and colleagues throughout her career.”

Namrata Grampurohit, PhD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy

Thomas Jefferson University

Creating Lasting Impact

Dr. Dodson’s commitment to evidence-based practice is eminent in her constant pursuit of knowledge through conferences and educational opportunities. She also demonstrates a strong passion for teaching evidence-based practice to hand therapists through webinars, presentations, and invited lectures. She advocates for her clients to ensure they receive the appropriate care for their physical rehabilitation and mental health needs. She provides compassionate and effective care to her clients by treating the whole person and not just the injured hand. Her compassionate care puts clients at ease and earns their trust so that clinician and client become true partners in the journey to recovery.

Three men and one woman smile at the camera.
OrthoCarolina Brachial Plexus and Limb Paralysis Center (from left to right): Glenn Gaston, MD, Bryan J. Loeffler, MD, Jennifer Dodson, Peter M. Waters, MD, MMSc

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