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Getting Injured Athletes Back in the Game – UConn Today – today.uconn.edu

Recovering from injury to resume normal day-to-day activities can be challenging enough. But what if “day-to-day” activities meant daily practice and a regular schedule of competition?

Injured athletes looking to return to their sports need to regain not only their function, but also their strength, agility, and quickness, plus motivation and confidence. In many cases that road back to play means learning new — and unlearning old — ways to move in order to reduce the chance of further injury while not being consumed by fear of additional injury.

That’s Michael DiStefano’s business. A certified athletic trainer, DiStefano is director of return to play and performance training at the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine. He also has a faculty appointment in UConn’s Department of Kinesiology.

Certified athletic trainer Michael DiStefano is director of return to play and performance training at the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine. (File photo)

“The vast majority of the people who I see are coming off of injuries such as ACL tears, repetitive ankle sprains or significant surgeries for the upper body or lower body,” DiStefano says. “I have others who’ll come in and see me after, for example, chronic knee pain, chronic low back pain, or maybe an Achilles tendon issue.”

He sees these athletes at a 6,000-square-foot indoor training center UConn leases in Glastonbury called The Apex.

“We try to figure out what is not working well within their body,” DiStefano says. “Are there muscle imbalances? Is there just lack of stability where there needs to be stability? Are they lacking of strength where they need it? My ultimate goal is to get them moving more efficiently and help prevent additional injuries and/or chronic pain.”

Most of the athletes DiStefano works with are between the ages 10 and 20, with the vast majority being high school student-athletes. He handles a range of situations, not limited to ACL recovery, although that is one of the most common injuries that brings these athletes to him.

“A large portion of my clients are recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery,” DiStefano says. “My goal is to be a part of their health care team when the time is right. I work with their physician and physical therapist to ensure a safe and effect return to sports/activities while minimizing their risk of additional injuries as best we can.”

Typically at around four months after the surgery, they’re ready to work with him two or three days a week.

“Usually when I see them at this point they’re maybe just starting to jog,” DiStefano says. “And then we’ll get them to the point where they’re ready to return to play. We work on performance training: power, speed, agility, and change of direction, both anticipated and unanticipated. My focus is to progress them safely while minimizing their risk of sustaining another injury, as best we can.”

One of the students who’s been working with DiStefano for several years now is Carys Baker, 18, who’s finishing her junior year at Loomis Chaffee High School in Windsor. She plays both basketball and volleyball.

Carys Baker, a two-sport athlete at Loomis Chaffee High School, works on her footwork during a training session at the UConn Institute for Sports Medicine’s return-to-play training facility in Glastonbury. (Photo by Chris DeFrancesco)

Two years ago Baker tore the ACL in her left knee after a mid-air collision during a basketball game. She had torn …….

Source: https://today.uconn.edu/2022/06/getting-injured-athletes-back-in-the-game/

Recovering from injury to resume normal day-to-day activities can be challenging enough. But what if “day-to-day” activities meant daily practice and a regular schedule of competition?

Injured athletes looking to return to their sports need to regain not only their function, but also their strength, agility, and quickness, plus motivation and confidence. In many cases that road back to play means learning new — and unlearning old — ways to move in order to reduce the chance of further injury while not being consumed by fear of additional injury.

That’s Michael DiStefano’s business. A certified athletic trainer, DiStefano is director of return to play…….

Recovering from injury to resume normal day-to-day activities can be challenging enough. But what if “day-to-day” activities meant daily practice and a regular schedule of competition?

Injured athletes looking to return to their sports need to regain not only their function, but also their strength, agility, and quickness, plus motivation and confidence. In many cases that road back to play means learning new — and unlearning old — ways to move in order to reduce the chance of further injury while not being consumed by fear of additional injury.

That’s Michael DiStefano’s business. A certified athletic trainer, DiStefano is director of return to play…….

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