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Treating ski-related injuries at UHealth Sports Medicine Institute

Knee and shoulder injuries common among skiers

Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of UHealth Sports Medicine Institute, discusses the prevention and treatment of ski-related injuries.

Dr. Lee Kaplan is director of UHealth Sports Medicine Institute, as well as Medical Director and Head Team Physician for the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Marlins. To learn more about preventing and treating ski injuries or to make an appointment, call 305-689-5555 or visit the University of Miami’s health news blog.


Despite -- or perhaps because of -- its tropical climate, South Florida is home to a large population of avid skiers. But all of that time on the slopes can lead to injury.

Rafael Serrano was following a friend down a tricky Black-diamond run in Colorado when he heard a loud pop in his knee. “I was on a new set of skis, new boots, I hadn’t warmed up, it was the first run of the day. My leg twisted and I felt my ACL snap,” says Mr. Serrano. “That was it, my ski season was over.”

When Mr. Serrano returned to Miami, fellow skiers who had sustained similar knee injuries referred him to Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of UHealth Sports Medicine Institute.

Dr. Kaplan says orthopedic care in most of the ski resorts is excellent, but patients want to be home for advanced imaging and treatment. “We decide if we are going to do physical therapy before surgery or if they even need surgery, and then we give them their best option,” he says.

Knee and shoulder injuries are common among skiers. As Medical Director and Head Team Physician for the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Marlins, Dr. Kaplan’s expertise is in treating these types of injuries and returning patients to the activity they love.

The combination of proper diagnosis, surgical treatment and physical therapy offered at UHealth Sports Medicine Institute is the key to a successful recovery, says Kaplan.

“With a physical therapist, we can not only get them over the knee injury, we can maximize their recovery and get them as fit as possible going into next season,” he says. “They may even be better prepared than they were pre-injury.”

After knee surgery and rehab under Dr. Kaplan’s supervision, Mr. Serrano gave his knee the ultimate test when he hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro with his son the following summer. “It was six days of hiking, five hour days up to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and zero issue with the knee that had been operated on,” he says. “In fact, it was stronger than the one that wasn’t.”

This ski season, Mr. Serrano was back on the slopes. “Skiing is an exciting sport. It’s great to be on the mountain connecting with nature and it felt good to get back out there.”

To prevent ski injuries, Dr. Kaplan recommends getting physically prepared in the months leading up to ski season with an exercise program that includes strengthening the glutes, quadriceps and core muscles.

Pacing yourself on your ski trip is also important, Kaplan says. “I think the biggest thing is to listen to your body and then to work with people that understand if you do get injured, how to get you better.”


Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.

Above content provided by UHealth, the University of Miami Health System