Rear view shot of a woman suffering from shoulder pain.

A 2020 snowplowing accident led to so much pain in Karen’s arm that she struggled to eat and sleep. She also couldn’t enjoy activities she loved — drawing, painting, riding her motorcycle, and working as a personal trainer. It was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic so she pushed through for a year before seeing an orthopaedic surgeon. After repairing Karen’s rotator cuff tears and biceps tendonitis, the surgeon recommended physical therapy and functional exercises for a full recovery.

Several of Karen’s personal training students suggested Brian Caricato, PT, DPT, a physical therapist with UPMC Centers for Rehab Services-Allison Park. “He respected my knowledge of anatomy and communicated very well. He respected me when I expressed what I thought could be beneficial during treatment,” says Karen. “We were partners in therapy and it always felt like a two-way street.”

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What Exercises to Expect in PT

Karen says that most of the exercises Brian prescribed were functional to help her get back to her normal activities. Other therapists she worked with (including physical therapy student Alec Hoover who was a big help in her recovery) also were genuinely interested in getting her back to the activities she loves.

In addition to the traditional range of motion and strength exercises to help her heal after surgery, Karen was given some creative functional exercises to help handle her motorcycle again.

“I explained what I needed to be able to do, and CRS responded with targeted movements to develop those skill sets for me,” Karen says. “An exercise ball pushed up against a wall imitated the movements of my handlebars. A lat bar pushed away from the tower imitated steering a motorcycle through a series of heavy curves. Timed hand exercises were developed so that I could hold the hand grips/brake on my bike on a hill through a red light. And they had other wonderfully creative ways to redevelop my hand strength and fine motor skills.”

She says that great care was also taken to restore her drawing and painting abilities since her injuries were in her dominant arm. And the stretching that Brian had Karen did each time restored the range of motion she needed as a personal trainer. She started PT in June 2021 and ended mid-October. She still practices range of motion every other day and strength development in between.

“As a master personal fitness trainer, I am able to pursue with confidence a 100% recovery,” Karen says. “CRS Allison Park is far superior to everywhere else and has individuality among the therapists. The entire staff there is very caring.” Thanks to Brian and his team, Karen is back to riding her motorcycle for hours at a time and enjoying the things she loves to do.

CRS in Allison Park

UPMC Centers for Rehab Services-Allison Park is located in the UPMC Outpatient Center in Hampton Township. The location offers free on-site parking and is handicap-accessible. Services in Allison Park include:

  • Amputee program.
  • Balance therapy.
  • Hand therapy.
  • Limb loss program (lower extremity).
  • Neurorehabilitation.
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Speech therapy.
  • Sports rehab programs.

To learn more about UPMC Centers for Rehab Services or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-888-723-4277 or visit our website.

About UPMC Centers for Rehab Services

Whatever your therapy need – physical, occupational, or speech – UPMC Centers for Rehab Services can create a personalized treatment plan for you. We have more than 60 outpatient facilities throughout our communities, with convenient hours for your schedule. Our therapies follow the most up-to-date research for rehabilitation. We treat numerous conditions, from arthritis and tendinitis, to injuries and symptoms related to other medical conditions. Visit our website for more information.