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Shoulder to the Wheel

An Active Carbondale Mom and Her Sons are Back to Living the Life they Love After Treatment from Glenwood Orthopedic Center

There’s something special about a mom and her boys. Kacy DiMarco, a Carbondale mother of two grown sons, can attest to the power of that bond.

“I have always wanted the best for them, and to try and give them the best I could,” she says. Her oldest son Taylor is now 33 years old, and youngest, Trae, is 25. Raising her boys was not always easy, she concedes, but it was always rewarding.

Taylor and Trae both attended Roaring Fork High School, and grew up heavily involved in local sports. Kacy and her husband Bill were right there with them, fulfilling all the daily roles of devoted parents. Kacy supported her kids' pursuits in every way she could: chauffeur, home chef, caregiver, and of course, cheerleader on the sidelines of every game. When Taylor suffered a shoulder injury playing baseball during his junior year of high school, she knew he needed the right treatment.

“I can’t quite remember how I found our doctor at that time, years ago,” Kacy recalls. “But I wanted the best, and I got the best.” Little did she know, the orthopedic surgeon Kacy found—Dr. Ferdinand “Tito” Liotta of Glenwood Orthopedic Center at Valley View—would not only repair Taylor’s torn rotator cuff that year, but would later go on to treat both of her own shoulders and one of Trae’s as well. 

“Our family loves Tito,” she says. “We have a hereditary disposition to shoulder injuries, and all of us are very active as well. He was always straightforward about what needed to be done for each of us, and helped provide guidance for recovery to help us get back to doing what we love to do.”

Kacy works as a full-time hairdresser, which means that her arms are out in front of her trimming and blow-drying for eight hours a day. She also grew up playing volleyball and softball, so the years of vigorous athletics combined with daily wear and tear of working as a hair stylist eventually caught up with her.

“Before my first surgery, I was in a lot of pain,” Kacy remembers. “I couldn’t even lift my arm to do the dishes.” Fortunately, she knew who to call.

“With shoulder issues, if someone has a tear, it doesn’t necessarily mean surgery,” says Dr. Liotta. “It’s about pain. So with Kacy, I really wanted to see her get back to a place where she could enjoy activity and life again without pain.”

Kacy’s right shoulder surgery was completed in 2010, and her left shoulder was repaired in 2014. She was diligent in caring for herself during the recovery process for both, and had gotten back into her normal routine when, in March 2019, her younger son Trae suffered a sudden shoulder injury. 

“After high school, Trae played football at Colorado State for four and a half years and then started playing professionally as an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Legends with the AAF [Alliance of American Football],” Kacy says. “I traveled all over the country going to his games over the years, and Bill and I were at the game in Arizona where he got hurt last year. Trae went for a cut block, and blew his shoulder out. It was 10 seconds before halftime. When they pulled him aside I remember he looked at me and just shook his head, and said ‘It’s not good, mom.’”

Trae had torn his labrum when the shoulder dislocated backward, and he would need surgery to repair it. The Legends offered to have him use a doctor through the team, or select one of his own choosing. With any surgeon in the country available to him for treatment, Trae chose Dr. Liotta.

“He dropped everything he was doing at the moment I called him from Atlanta, and made sure he could accommodate me,” Trae says. “I have great respect and admiration for Tito.” Now more than a year out from his surgery, Trae says he’s feeling 100 percent thanks to the superior care he received. He was drafted by the XFL last year, but ultimately decided to retire from professional sports and start a new career here in the valley. 

“Tito was always extremely professional and kind before and after my surgery,” Trae notes. “I now have no problems with my shoulder, and I was able to get back in the weight room and push even heavier weights than before. I have no slippage like I used to, and my shoulder feels extremely secure. Thanks to Tito I can also get behind our Polaris Ranger and push it for 40 yards, 10 times and have no problems with my shoulder not being strong enough or being sore afterward.”

Having cared for patients in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1996, Dr. Liotta has seen a lot of shoulders. He firmly believes that patients like Kacy, Taylor, and Trae, who took a proactive role in their own recoveries, experience far better outcomes.

“Shoulder surgery is uncomfortable. It’s months of recovery, rehabilitation, and changing your life and activity,” he says. “It’s very challenging, but when patients are motivated to heal and take care of themselves, they have a better result long-term. In the short-term it’s hard for an active person to sit around, though—so I encourage them to be creatively active. Walk, or get on a bike.”

And, he jokes, “Fortunately, we don’t walk on our shoulders.” 

In a community buzzing with active people who need orthopedic care to support their mountain lifestyles, Dr. Liotta brings a seasoned expertise and warm demeanor to his practice. Over the years, he has received numerous local accolades, and he loves to see his patients thrive.

“I do treat injuries, but my work is focused on prevention,” he says. “I’d much rather have people feel good and happy with their health, than need to come into the office.”

These days, Kacy says that she and her sons are indeed feeling strong and healthy. Kacy loves walking her neighborhood and hiking Red Hill, Trae does weight training and interval cardio, and the whole family enjoys outdoor activities together like water skiing on Lake Powell and hunting and fishing at their cabin near Silt.

“We’re just go, go, go, that’s who we are,” Kacy says, laughing. “No grass grows under our feet. Thanks to Tito, we’re able to live the life we love.”

For Dr. Liotta, the affection is mutual.

“Kacy is a phenomenally devoted mother,” he says. “Her sons are amazing people, thanks in large part to her.”

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