From limitations to snowball fights

It was the kind of moment any mom could have: Holding her 5-year-old son’s hand while standing in the waves at the beach in 2019, Erika Shapiro got knocked down by a big surge, but made sure she didn’t let go of her boy. The pair were fine, but Ms. Shapiro’s shoulder took the brunt of it as she got tossed around. The result: a major rotator cuff tear and a torn biceps tendon.

She needed surgery to repair her injuries, and turned to shoulder specialist Gregory C. Mallo, MD, of Orlin & Cohen Orthopedic Group. After a successful surgery and a few months of physical therapy, the now 47-year-old was able to return to her job as a nurse. Then, last year, the other shoulder began to ache.

Since Ms. Shapiro has rheumatoid arthritis and had played sports when she was younger, Dr. Mallo attributed the pain to a rotator cuff tear caused by overuse. An MRI revealed a cyst under the bicep tendon as well as a significant rotator cuff tear. This meant she’d need a similar procedure to the one she’d had the previous year.

“We were able to do a minimally invasive technique in a very efficient and effective way, leading to a shorter time in surgery and a faster recovery,” said Dr. Mallo. “Before surgery, she was having difficulty taking care of herself and her two young children, and now she’s able to do pretty much whatever she wants.”

Ms. Shapiro is grateful that now when her son, 7, and his 4-year-old sister ask, “Mommy, can you play with us?” she can say yes. Just a month after surgery, she was helping build a snowman and having snowball fights. She also “fences” with foam swords in the living room.

“It’s little moments like that — you don’t realize how important they are until you can’t do them,” she said. “I’m grateful for the feeling of getting stronger and more mobile every day.”