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Patient Success Stories

skiing after acl injuryThe condition: Ray Shail had been suffering with knee pain for over 20 years. The 68-year-old had a congenital deformity that caused him to be significantly bowlegged for much of his life, and as he aged, his knees became extremely painful and severely arthritic. He walked hunched over due to the pain, which also started affecting his hips and back as well.

Still, Ray was anxious about having a knee replacement and fearful of hospitals. However, when an accident resulted in a broken kneecap, he was seen at the office of Dr. Robert Deveney, a specialist in hip and knee replacement surgery.

The treatment: After an exam and x-rays, Dr. Deveney informed Ray that he would be able to not only replace his knees, thus alleviating his intense pain, but was also able to straighten his legs. This could be achieved, he explained, using the latest robotic-assisted technology in surgery that has proven to be very successful.

When Ray learned about the new technology, and had the option of having the surgery as an out-patient at OrthoConnecticut’s surgical center near home in Danbury, with no hospital stay required, he decided to go ahead with a staged bilateral knee replacement.

Since the leg with the broken kneecap needed some time to heal, Ray’s other knee was operated on first. “The first two weeks weren’t easy,” Ray admits. He was impressed, though, by the fact that a visiting nurse and a physical therapist made home visits starting the day of his surgery.

After two weeks Ray started physical therapy at the offices of Motion, located in the same building at OrthoConnecticut, which was very convenient. On the day of surgery he became mobile with his new knee, and was astonished at how straight his leg was compared to the yet-to-be-operated on leg. And the pain? Completely gone after only six weeks of post-surgical therapy.

This made heading back to surgery three months after the first procedure to replace the other knee much easier. The recovery process on the other knee was similar, and after six more weeks of post-surgery therapy on the other leg, Ray returned to work full time.

The result: “It’s a miracle,” Ray exclaims, describing the difference in his life post-surgery. “My legs are parallel and I have no pain. People say I’m taller now, since I’m not hunched over. They barely recognize me now!” He adds that he now enjoys using the stairs at work, whereas in the past he could only get around using the elevators. He has a new lease on life, and so excited to be so mobile.

“Ray’s story is a testament to how successful robotic-assisted surgery can be,” says Dr. Deveney. “These procedures are more precise, cause less trauma to the soft tissues, and enable patients to recover faster.” Combined with the ability to have out-patient surgery and return home the same day makes joint replacement something patients can feel more comfortable with. “I’m thrilled Ray is no longer suffering,” he adds.  
 

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.”

 
 

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