Suzanne Caragianis graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy at SAIT (University of South Australia) in 1985, with a keen interest in treating hand injuries and burns. Her goal was to establish a centre of excellence where people with hand and arm injuries could get the best possible care.
After completing further studies in the United States, she qualified as a Certified Hand Therapist in 1991, one of the first in Australia. A year later, Suzanne established SA Hand Therapy, which today has a team of 12 therapists plus support staff. Michael Janetzki and Jordan Lefmann are now partners of SA Hand Therapy and have expanded our staff development and scope of practice.
As part of her ongoing commitment to always provide the best possible techniques and technology to her patients, over the years Suzanne has completed more than 75 specialist courses in Australia and around the world .
During her career, Suzanne has been invited to speak in many countries. Highlights include:
Suzanne has been training occupational therapy students from the University of South Australia for over 24 years. She sees her role as a mentor critical for the development of the profession and new graduates. Suzanne is currently the South Australian Mentor for the Australian Hand Therapy Association and is and Adjunct Clinical Lecturer with the University of South Australia.
Suzanne has a keen interest in research and has published in peer review journals in areas of chronic pain, tendinopathy and occupational injury and risk in hand therapy profession.
After a period of teaching the Indian Hand Surgeon’s effective post-operative hand rehabilitation with her esteemed colleague Dr Raja Sabapathy, in India, Suzanne saw a need for ‘Hand Care’ over the border in The Kingdom of Bhutan.
Since 2010, Suzanne, along with Dr Philip Griffin and Dr Michael Hayes, has organised and run Hand Surgical Camps in Bhutan. She has also enlisted help from colleagues — Megan Fitzgerald and Susan Hillier — to run courses to train local physiotherapists and surgeons. Suzanne undertook a needs analysis 3 years ago with Interplast Australia and New Zealand to further develop her program in Bhutan. Interplast have now been involved in running surgical camps in Bhutan over the past 3 years and have a successful MOU with the Royal Government of Bhutan.
At SA Hand Therapy, we’ve been fortunate to team up with Southern Adelaide Health Institute’s Bhutan Fund which allows people to contribute and support the work we do in Bhutan. All contributions are fully tax deductible with 100% of the proceeds going to the people of Bhutan. Thanks to our patients and many other supporters, we’ve been able to set up two hand therapy clinics in Bhutan, train their staff and buy specialised surgical equipment.
Despite her many passions, interests, commitments and demands on her time within her field of expertise, Suzanne’s main focus remains her patients. She is still very much hands-on, leading her team at SA Hand Therapy.
Following the passing of Dr. Harold E. Kleinert on 28th September 2013, Suzanne has written a personal tribute to her mentor and friend.