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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.

 
 

Colleen's clavicle injury and recovery storyThe condition: Colleen, a Physical Therapy graduate student working toward her doctorate at University of Connecticut, was working out at the campus gym when a squat bar holding 200 pounds of weights fell off a rack and on to her. The result was a broken clavicle, in addition to a puncture wound to her lower abdomen. After a night in the hospital for the wound, she went straight to Dr. Angelo Ciminiello’s office at Danbury Orthopedics. Both of her parents, who live in Danbury, had been patients of Dr. Ciminiello and she knew she could trust him to treat her quickly and professionally. An x-ray revealed that her clavicle was broken in two places. Although Dr. Ciminiello told her that it was possible to wait and see if the bones would repair on their own, Colleen opted for surgery to get back into her physical routine and training as quickly as possible.

The treatment: Only 48 hours after being evaluated, Colleen was in surgery. Dr. Ciminiello repaired her clavicle with a permanent titanium plate and six screws. “Colleen is an active, young woman who had a devastating injury. We discussed various treatment options and felt that surgical fixation of her clavicle would allow her to get back to her active lifestyle the quickest,” explains Dr. Ciminiello. Three days later Colleen was back in school, and began stretching and lifting light weights to regain mobility in her arm and increase strength.

The result: Just three months post-surgery, Colleen could return to a full personal exercise regimen and do all her work as a physical therapist. She is glad that she did not “wait and see,” since if she had not healed on her own, she still would have had to have surgery and been out of commission even longer. She is thrilled and relieved that she could return to work so quickly. “Dr. Ciminiello was great. He spent so much time with me making sure I understood the pros and cons of surgery, and I could see that he really cared about me having an excellent outcome,” she explains. Today she is in peak shape, and can sumo dead lift 160 pounds, and do a 155 pound squat lift.

 
 

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