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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.”


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