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Irene Ma

Syosset, NY

Unhappy Triad? Before my ski injury in January 2018, I would have guessed that the term refers to a messy love triangle. After the ski injury, I learned that the term refers to an injury of the ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Before I came to HSS, other clinicians who assessed me told me that unless I wanted to live a sedentary lifestyle, I would need surgery for my torn ACL. At the time, I was no athlete, but I did enjoy hiking, skiing and taking walks. Realizing that my condition is more serious than I had thought, I decided to seek care from a reputable orthopedic hospital. That’s what brought me to HSS.

After seeing me, Dr. Russell Windsor explained that the tear in my MCL and meniscus may heal over time. However, the chances that my torn ACL healing is slim. Dr. Windsor was objective and suggested that I go through physical therapy before deciding on surgery.

I went to the HSS Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center for physical therapy under Alex Shafiro's care. At the start, I was apprehensive and skeptical that physical therapy alone would be sufficient for recovery. That coupled with the fact that I never went to a gym made me feel out of place and vulnerable. I admit I was not an easy patient, being oversensitive and giving push-back on every other exercise. Despite that, Alex did not give up on me but rather continued to give me effective treatments to relieve my pain and challenging exercises that yield results. He also tried different approaches to make me more comfortable and the visits more enjoyable.

After a short period of time, I felt recovered enough to go about the same activities prior to the injury. I continued with physical therapy to build strength to compensate for the compromised ACL. Later, I was inspired to start running, something I was told that I would not be able to do without surgery. Alex taught me how to start running safely, building endurance while avoiding pain and instability.

Another visit with Dr. Windsor confirmed that I am making great progress and that I may ski and even run without surgery if I continue with the physical therapy exercises. That means a lot, coming from a surgeon who has had positive outcomes from performing surgery on others I knew personally. Thanks to Alex’s effective treatments, no nonsense exercises and lots of patience, I dodged surgery while meeting my personal goal to become even more active than I was prior to the injury. Now, I’m looking forward to hitting the slopes again this winter, figuratively speaking of course.