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 at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute outpatient rehabilitation clinic in Allison Park.

“He respected my knowledge of anatomy and communicated very well,” Karen says. “He respected me when I expressed what I thought could be beneficial during treatment. 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 Brian and team 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. “The clinic in 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.

Outpatient Rehabilitation in Allison Park

The UPMC Rehabilitation Insititute outpatient rehabilitation clinic in 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 Rehabilitation Institute or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-888-723-4277 or visit our website.

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.