Manuela dances professionally for companies and troupes around New York City, so it’s no surprise that she spends hours preparing and rehearsing for performances. While jumping as high as she could on a trampoline at an amusement park, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee.
Manuela not only had tremendous knee pain, but also feared she would never dance again.
Her primary care doctor recommended she see Michael J. Alaia, MD, at NYU Langone’s Sports Medicine Center. “I was told he was the best,” she says. “I wasn’t going to put my dance career in the hands of anyone but him.”
Dr. Alaia recommended repairing the torn knee ligament with a graft taken from Manuela’s hamstring tendons. This type of graft helped ensure that her knee would retain the flexibility needed to perform at an elite level while providing the stability and confidence that dancing requires.
After her surgery, Manuela worked with physical therapist Maureen P. McDonough, PT, DPT, at Rusk Rehabilitation to build her strength for dancing.
“Being able to dance my heart out was a huge triumph.”—Manuela, Age 21
“My physical therapist was my guiding light during this very difficult time. She helped me and trained me twice a week,” Manuela says. “A year after my surgery, I was back in ballet class, dancing at least 18 hours a week.”