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Anna's Story: Returning to the Slopes After Shoulder Injury

Image of Anna

While on a ski vacation with her family in Whistler, British Columbia, Anna fell on the slopes and experienced a painful shoulder injury. Because she works ski patrol with her husband, Anna knew exactly what to do.

“I skied to the bottom of the slope and went to first aid. Unfortunately, it was determined that I was not going to be able to ski for the rest of my vacation,” she recalls.

The Path to UPMC Sports Medicine

When she returned home, a friend recommended that Anna schedule an appointment with Bryson Lesniak, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

After a physical evaluation, x-rays, and MRIs, Dr. Lesniak diagnosed her with a torn rotator cuff.

While there are nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for a torn rotator cuff, Anna wanted to return to skiing and the ski patrol the next season.

Dr. Lesniak listened to Anna’s goals and together they decided that surgery would be the better option to help her return to her active lifestyle. In April 2017, Anna underwent surgery to repair the rotator cuff in her right arm.

Recovering from a Torn Rotator Cuff

During the first six weeks after surgery, Anna wore a sling with an abduction pillow to keep her shoulder in place. She also began physical therapy close to her home in Somerset, Pa., where she continued working out twice a week for the next four months.

Using resistance bands, she was introduced to exercises that tested her strength and range of motion. Anna credits the physical therapy sessions — and her at-home exercise regimen — for her recovery.

“I wanted to be able to return to ski patrol in the upcoming season, so I made sure I was dedicated to my physical therapy.” — Anna

Her hard work paid off: In September 2017, Anna was cleared by Dr. Lesniak to return to the slopes. In March 2018, almost a year after her injury, Anna enjoyed a ski vacation in Utah.