Atlanta, GA,
12:05 PM

Case Manager Discusses How the Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Clinic at Shepherd Center Changes Lives

Q & A with Jana Candia, OTR/L, case manager, Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Clinic at Shepherd Center

The Upper Extremity (UE) Rehabilitation Clinic at Shepherd Center changes lives. It offers a comprehensive therapy and treatment program to improve upper extremity function for people with neurological injuries who have limited function or pain in their arms, wrists and hands. We asked case manager Jana Candia, OTR/L, who’s worked at Shepherd Center since 2007, to tell us more.

Q: Who qualifies for care?
The clinic is open to current and former Shepherd Center patients, as well as community members with a previously diagnosed neurologic injury. Loss of upper extremity function can occur as a result of neurologic injury, secondary orthopedic injury or peripheral nerve injury. Our UE physicians have a particular skill set in that they are orthopedic surgeons who have an acute understanding of our patients’ specialized needs. This is not an easy thing to find, and we’re lucky to have them. So, although we treat conditions like rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel and brachial plexus injuries, much of our focus happens to be on contracture management because of spasticity related to neurologic impairments and on tendon/nerve transfers with our tetraplegic population.

Q: What are the clinic's most important functions?
I think our team is most proud of our tendon/nerve transfer program because it is so highly specialized and restricted to very few places around the country. But, that probably depends on who you ask. A patient with shoulder pain or carpal tunnel pain would tell you the steroid injections we provide are the most important. A person with a tetraplegic level of spinal cord injury who wants to be able to extend and bear weight through his or her arm or have pinch and grip restored through tendon/nerve transfers would argue that part of our restoration program is the most important. Everything we do is import-ant if it helps promote function.

Q: How does the clinic help distinguish Shepherd Center from other rehabilitation hospitals?
Our UE physicians are an invaluable resource, and they are right here in our center! They come to the patient in the very place our patients usually feel most secure. Our Shepherd Center culture is part of the program, which on its own, makes the program unique. Another advantage: the restoration program team (comprised of MDs, OTs, RNs, PCTs and a case manager) is skilled in spinal cord and brain injury methodologies of care, which helps us coordinate resources across programs and services while providing a comprehensive experience.

Q: What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?

The team approach and culture, as well as the cumulative brilliance of all these dedicated people, never fails to blow my mind. The opportunity to work with them to bring about life-impacting change feels almost sacrosanct.


Quinnipiac University, Bachelor of Science, Occupational Therapy


  • Jana likes to play guitar. “My parents started me at age 10 and it’s the best thing they ever did for me. Please don’t tell them that. They’d like to believe they gave me the things that make me a good person (respect, morals, compassion, etc.) but really it’s my guitar skills.”
  • “I have music playing in my head constantly. It’s subtle. I love music so much, it factors into all that I do.”
  • Jana co-hosts a fake podcast called “Crap Our Fathers Say.” Fellow employees “call in” and share dad stories. Sample topic: Road rage fathers!

Interview by Drew Jubera

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.