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Joint Care New Britain General campus:
(860) 224-5186

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Patient stories

Tracey Staehle - shoulder surgery

Jumping for joy: good health and fitness.

Tracey smiles as she lifts hand weights above her shoulders. As a fitness instructor, Tracey Staehle of Simsbury isn't one who takes to resting easily. But when her left shoulder pain got to the point where she couldn't do a push-up, get a full night's sleep or be 100 percent for an upcoming fitness video, she knew something more had to be done.

Over a two-year period, Staehle had seen different doctors, tried physical therapy and received three steroid injections to her shoulder before a friend recommended she see Robert Belniak, M.D., chief of Orthopedic Surgery at The Hospital of Central CT.

Belniak, who specializes in sports medicine and shoulder conditions, performed minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery for Staehle, 38, who suffered from shoulder impingement (irritated rotator cuff muscles) and tendinitis (inflamed tendons) brought on by her occupation. Her outpatient surgery at The Hospital of Central Connecticut was in late May of 2007 and, Staehle, a first-time patient to the hospital, was thrilled with the care provided by the surgical team. "I loved it. They were so nice."

The certified aerobics instructor and personal trainer admits the toughest part of recovery was listening to doctor's orders. With a sling around her arm, Staehle was teaching a class at the Big Sky gym in Simsbury just two days after surgery. Within six weeks she had complete range of motion in the left shoulder and has since regained left shoulder strength. "I can fully function now."

Staehle, who has finished filming her eighth fitness video, is glad she came to The Hospital of Central Connecticut. "I had a really great experience. It couldn't have been better."



Peter Knaus - knee and shoulder surgery

Sports, surgery and success!

Peter kicks up snow as he skies with grace around a slalom post. You might say Peter Knaus is a good role model for his family. An avid athlete, he values the benefits of exercise - often bike racing, wind surfing, snow skiing, and sometimes even playing basketball and soccer.

When the Kensington resident tore both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and rotator cuff he knew to turn to The Hospital of Central Connecticut for surgery.

"My daughter took me out - swept my feet from under me and I fell backwards and landed on my shoulder," recalls Knaus, 51, about the day he tore his left shoulder rotator cuff while playing soccer with his daughter, Katie, in 2005. He knew something was wrong and an MRI confirmed a torn rotator cuff.

Orthopedic surgeon Robert Waskowitz, M.D., who specializes in sports medicine, recommended surgery to reconnect the torn muscle with the upper arm (humerus) bone. Knaus says it felt like he had a new shoulder after the post-surgery physical therapy. "It's pretty amazing what the surgery had done. I feel like I did when I was young," he says, adding that he had a great hospital experience.

This marked the second significant sports-related injury for Knaus, who in July 2000 suffered a torn ACL in his right knee playing basketball. "I pivoted and decelerated and the knee just popped." Waskowitz restored the knee's anatomy by using part of Knaus' patellar tendon in place of the torn ligament and securing it into the knee using screws, one of several ways to restructure the ACL.

Four months later Knaus was skiing in Vermont, following the physician's advice to be careful. "I didn't take crazy risks, but I skied. And it worked out. It worked out great."



Astrid Johansen - knee replacements

With new knees nothing holds her back.

Astrid kneels by her flowers. Astrid Johansen remembers when her knees finally stopped hurting. It was just a few months after her bilateral knee replacement surgery at The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

"All of sudden it's like I just have my normal knees. I don't have pain. It's perfect. There's nothing holding me back," she says. This means a lot to Johansen, 71, who had previously walked daily for the past 24 years, loves to golf, bowl and garden.

Johansen, of Avon, had exhausted all other treatment options before she went to orthopedic surgeon Robert Carangelo, M.D., who suggested replacing both arthritic knees with the newer gender-specific knees that are shaped more narrowly at the top, typical of female anatomy. "There was no question that was the only way to go so I could be pain-free to do my activities," she says. "Everyone used to say they were in pain watching me walk."

Before her surgery in March, Johansen attended the hospital's one-hour joint replacement preoperative class. "It was worth going to, definitely. It explains exactly what we're going to go through." Johansen's recovery began at the hospital's Center for Joint Care which includes a gym for physical therapy.

"The therapist was great with me," she says. "He had me up the first day (after surgery) taking steps with a walker." Her rehabilitation continued at an extended care facility, home and on an outpatient basis. Johansen, back on the greens and gardening, adds, "I'm 100 percent in favor of The Hospital of Central Connecticut."