•  Last October, Deven Desai was in the middle of his senior season playing soccer for Rome Free Academy. A young athlete in prime condition, Deven could not have imagined that a slight misstep on the field would mean an abrupt end to his high school soccer career.

    “I went for a tackle and my leg just collapsed,” Deven said. “Later, looking at film from the game, I could see that my knee twisted weirdly when I planted my foot. The pain was horrible, I couldn’t stand and they had to help me off the field.”

    Deven suffered a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) during that game in October, but thanks to the care he received from Rome Memorial Hospital’s affiliated practices Rome Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and Chestnut Commons Physical and Occupational Therapy Center, he is now looking forward to the opportunity to play soccer again on the college level.

    The ACL is one of the knee ligaments that joins the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone and keeps the knee stable. A common injury among athletes, an ACL tear is usually caused by a sudden deceleration or landing maneuver with the leg in a vulnerable position.

    After his injury, Deven’s parents, Dr. Ankur Desai and Dr. Lauren Giustra, both gynecologists and obstetricians with Mohawk Valley Women’s Health Associates, immediately contacted their colleague at Rome Memorial Hospital, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mitchell Rubinovich, of Rome Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Dr. Rubinovich met with Deven and his parents at the hospital. When an MRI confirmed the torn ACl, Dr. Rubinovich broke the news that Deven would need ACL reconstruction surgery.

    Dr. Rubinovich performed Deven’s surgery arthroscopically, using a tiny camera to look inside the knee during the procedure. Small cuts are made to insert the camera and small surgical tools used to perform the reconstruction.

    “We did a graft of Deven’s hamstring tendon to replace his torn anterior cruciate ligament,” Dr. Rubinovich said. The surgeon explained that the hamstring tendon was taken from the back of Deven’s leg where the scarring would not be as visible.

    “Dr. Rubinovich was great,” Deven said. “He explained everything he was doing and the surgery went really well. I have very little scarring and within two weeks of my surgery I was ready to begin physical therapy.”

    Dr. Rubinovich told Deven he should be able to return to all his activities at his pre-injury level in 6-9 months, following a prescribed treatment plan of physical therapy at Chestnut Commons Physical & Occupational Therapy Center. Physical Therapists Justin Waters and Josh Griffo coordinated with Dr. Rubinovich to determine the methods and duration of Deven’s therapy.

    “When I started, I basically was just sitting on the table and extending my lower leg up and down,” Deven explained. “We really began with just working on increasing my extension.”

    “We create patient-specific goals and guide the patient’s rehabilitation, in accordance with their doctor’s protocols, to allow them to return to their previous level of function,” Waters said. “In the case of athletes, this obviously centers on getting them back to competing in their favorite sports.”

    As with most physical therapy, Deven’s initial exercises were to promote healing, decrease pain and swelling, regain range of motion, and increase the ability to bear weight and walk normally. As he progressed, the exercise program progressed too.

    “With recovery from ACL reconstruction, great emphasis is placed on the quadriceps because of their role in knee stability and function,” Waters said. “Lower extremity and even core exercises are incorporated to promote balanced strength and appropriate joint alignment and mechanics. Work to regain balance and stability is not only important for return to activity but also to prevent future injury.”

    Deven went to physical therapy after school, three days a week for 16 weeks. By the end of his therapy, he said he was really enjoying the sessions at Chestnut Commons Physical and Occupational Therapy Center.

    “Justin and Josh were both great physical therapists and everyone at Chestnut Commons was really nice, easy to talk to and very helpful,” Deven said. “By the end of my therapy, my therapists were kicking the ball around with me and made it really fun.”

    “Athletes who suffer a torn ACL go from competition to unable to play abruptly when their injury occurs.” Waters explained. “The road from surgery to rehabilitation is a long one, but we try to make it as enjoyable as possible and have as much fun in the clinic as we can. Nothing is more rewarding than shaking hands with a patient as he or she leaves the clinic on their last day of therapy, knowing that they are ready to safely get back to what they enjoy most.”

    Although he did miss out on a lot of his senior high school soccer season, Deven has set his sights on trying out for some type of sport at college in the fall. He will attend Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. where he plans to major in business management and perhaps be part of the college’s soccer, lacrosse or swimming teams.

    Deven said he is extremely grateful to the coordinated care he received from Dr. Rubinovich and the therapists at Chestnut Commons Physical and Occupational Therapy Center.

    “I would highly recommend them to anyone who has a sport, or any kind of injury,” Deven said. “I was on crutches and basically unable to walk after my injury last fall and I am playing lacrosse this spring without pain. I have the great care I received to thank for that.”

    Desai Testimonial 
     REGAINING STRENGTH – Physical Therapist Justin Waters, of Chestnut Commons Physical and Occupational Therapy Center, holds on to elastic resistance bands as Deven Desai does lateral walking exercises to strengthen his hip abductors. These muscles play a role in promoting proper knee alignment and stability. During therapy, Deven had to retrain his muscles and regain strength for a return to normal knee function and to prevent injury.