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skiing after acl injuryThe condition: Drew Martin knew the moment he felt a pop in his knee during a Friday night football game that the injury was serious.  Soon after, his knee swelled up and he experienced severe pain and could not put weight on his leg.

However, so many friends and family members recommended Dr. Ciminiello at OrthoConnecticut that the three-sport high school athlete felt he was going to the best possible doctor to help him recover.  After his first appointment, he felt even better.  “Dr. Ciminiello made me feel so comfortable, and I trusted I’d be getting the right course of treatment. He played college baseball so he understands athletes, which made me feel like he understood what I was going through,” Drew explains.

The treatment: After an evaluation and tests, Dr. Ciminiello determined that Drew had torn both his ACL and meniscus, and sprained his MCL.  Drew underwent surgery to repair the tears within a month.  “I felt lucky that, even with Covid, I was able to have my surgery scheduled very quickly,” Drew adds, noting that other friends with similar injuries had to wait months to have surgery at other practices.

While the surgery was successful, Drew admits the first few weeks after were difficult because he was unable to stand.  “Just sitting around was so hard for me” he recalls.  Within two weeks he could get around on crutches and return to school, and after five weeks he was able to begin physical therapy at Motion Physical Therapy, located at OrthoConnecticut’s Riverview office.  “Having my PT at the same place was really useful,” Drew explains, adding that it made communications between Dr. Ciminiello  and the therapist very easy.

The result: While the typical timeline for an injury like Drew’s is 9-12 months of bi-weekly PT with daily home exercises to return to full function, Drew is determined to cut that down to six months.  He is progressing much faster than expected, and can now run after just four months. This is due to both his diligence at PT, as well as his determination to participate in the last part of his senior year baseball season.

“A big part of my recovery has been mind set,” Drew admits.  “Dr. Ciminiello explained to me early on that going slowly will be hard for someone like me, and it will be tough to see my teammates continue to play while I’m on the sidelines. He had me focus on the bigger picture, which has really helped me in my recovery.” He adds that setting weekly goals during PT has really helped. “You see results and it’s the best feeling.”

Dr. Ciminiello agrees with Drew about mindset during recovery. “For a young, healthy athlete, the hardest part of recovery from an injury is understanding that it will take some time and can’t be rushed so you can heal properly. Drew’s ability to set small goals and stay positive has significantly contributed to his amazing recovery.”  
 

skiing after acl injuryThe condition: When Pacific Northwest native, Anne Uecker, went out skiing for the first time during the 2019–2020 ski season, she wanted to prove to her kids she was still a better skier than anyone else in the family. Unfortunately, she didn’t account for the slick conditions of the early East Coast ski season. When she hit a patch of ice and fell, she immediately knew something was wrong with her knee. “I skied down and went into the lodge to take a break,” explains Anne. “My knee was swelling, but I could still walk, and after a short break I skied two more runs.” Determined that everything would be fine, Anne went back to her condo and vacuumed while waiting for her family to finish for the day. “It can’t be that bad,” Anne told herself, “since I can walk and I’m not in a ton of pain. It just feels loose.” 

But four days later, her knee still felt loose so Anne went to see Dr. Ganal, who had successfully treated her daughter, Julie, for a broken wrist a few months prior. “Dr. Ganal had a great bedside manner and was easy to talk to, so I knew I wanted to see him for my injury,” says Anne. “Initially, Dr. Ganal suspected I had bruised or torn my ACL and sent me for an MRI,” Anne explains. “When the MRI came back it showed I had not only torn my ACL, but it was completely unattached.”

The treatment: Dr. Ganal counseled Anne that she could be treated non-operatively, but Dr. Ganal recommended ACL reconstruction since she desired to return to an active sports lifestyle. Anne agreed and decided that since she was only 43 years old and “not dead yet” she was going to do everything she could to get back to skiing, gardening, and boating. “‘I’m not a patient person and as soon as I decided I wanted to do the surgery, I wanted it done right away,” explained Anne. Fortunately, Dr. Ganal’s team worked magic to get Anne’s surgery scheduled for just before Thanksgiving 2019. “Initially, I was scheduled for the second week of December,” said Anne, “but I wanted to get it over with and get started on recovery as soon as possible, so I decided Thanksgiving was canceled and I was going to take care of myself.” Dr. Ganal performed ACL surgery on the day before Thanksgiving. Anne explained, “Dr. Ganal recommended I use a cadaver tendon instead of a piece of my patella to help me have the best outcome possible and be able to return to my preinjury activities.”

Anne started physical therapy immediately after her surgery, but then COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and everything was shut down. Anne remembers, “I went from intense physical therapy two times a week to doing at-home exercises because everything was closed. For the whole month of March, I was in a holding pattern. Then in April and May I was able to do physical therapy via telehealth, but it just wasn’t the same.” Finally, at the beginning of June, things started to open up again, and Anne could start going in-person to her physical therapy appointments. “COVID-19 set my recovery back a good three months,” says Anne, “but there was nothing anyone could do about it. Luckily, insurance gave me another three months of coverage so I went to physical therapy for a whole year.” Anne remembers there was a time when she plateaued and didn’t think her knee was going to get any better, but Dr. Ganal encouraged her to stick with her exercises and to stay active — and she’s so glad she did.

The result: After missing the 2019–2020 ski season because of her injury and COVID-19 restrictions, Anne wasn’t sure what to expect for this year’s season. But she would not be deterred. She got back out on the slopes in 2021 and achieved her goals. “I waited for the mountain to be covered in snow this year before my first run, but it felt great to be back out there!” exclaims Anne. “My knee feels strong, just like Dr. Ganal said it would.” She adds, “I didn’t do all of this to just take a stroll down the street.” Luckily for her, hard work and determination sure paid off. Anne was able to ski all winter, plans to be on her boat all summer, and is currently back to her full-time job at Young’s of Ridgefield. “I’m grateful to Dr. Ganal for his skill and determination to help me get back to my everyday lifestyle,” says Anne. “From my first visit we bonded over both being in the military and I knew I could trust him to help me get my life back.”

 
 

Joe Sassano Dupuytrens Contracture surgery, patient successThe condition: When Joe Sassano noticed that the fingers in his left hand had started to lack mobility and became slightly claw-like, he knew right away it was time to consult an orthopedic hand surgeon. Joe, age 70, is a passionate bass player who has been playing since age 11 and enjoys playing in a local band called “Decades,” around the Fairfield County. He knew that the condition would ultimately affect his ability to play if not treated right away.

The condition, called Dupuytrens Contracture, but often referred to as Vikings disease, is a genetic disease commonly found in people with Northern European lineage. It causes scarring growths on the fascia of the palm, causing the fingers to slowly cave in and form a claw-like position. However, the condition is painless, so many people do not realize it is happening until the restriction in their hand is quite noticeable.

The treatment: Fortunately, Joe knew the signs of the condition right away because he had developed it in his right hand three years earlier. At that time, he turned to Dr. John Lunt at The Hand Center at OrthoConnecticut, who initially attempted to treat the condition non-surgically, through a series of injections. However, while injection therapy has been successful on some patients, it did not work effectively enough for Joe, who ultimately opted for a surgical procedure. Dr. Lunt successfully operated on the hand and Joe eventually returned to full mobility.

This time around, Joe knew the signs and went to Dr. Lunt right away. He also knew he had several band gigs set up for mid-February that he couldn’t miss, so he needed to be fully healed by that time. He waited until right after the holidays, and underwent surgery on January 3rd.

“I drove four miles from my home in Brookfield to the OrthoConnecticut Surgical Center in Danbury, had surgery at 2 p.m., recovered, and was home by dinner time,“ Joe explains. He then underwent intensive post-surgery physical therapy at the same location. “The staff at the surgical center and at the P.T. office are just fantastic, and having these services so close to home made it easy to get to all of my appointments.

The result: Due to a combination of Dr. Lunt’s skill and Joe’s diligence with his physical therapy, three weeks to the date of his surgery, Joe attended band practice and was able to play. In fact, that evening he posted on his Facebook page, “Thanks to great work by hand specialist Dr. John Lunt and great post-op work by my very talented therapist Stephanie Tomaszewsky, I picked up my bass last night and played with no pain, no restrictions and great feel.”

“The surgery for Dupuytrens Contracture is relatively invasive, and recovery usually takes a couple of months,” commented Dr. Lunt. He attributes Joe’s amazingly rapid recovery to his positive outlook and dedication to his physical therapy after surgery, adding, “working with an experienced team of physicians and therapists also helps maximize the success of the surgery and minimize recovery time.”

Dr. Lunt recommends that people with this condition and other degenerative conditions seek treatment from a doctor as early as possible to ensure better surgical outcomes. “The longer patients wait, the more extensive surgery is required, with more trauma, resulting in longer recovery time,” he advises.

 
 

Disclaimer: Any prior results discussed in this site do not guarantee a similar outcome.