As reported by the Valley Press, July 30, 2009.

UConn’s New Specialist Just What the Doctor Ordered

UConn Health Center Introduces New Specialist

By Amy Desson

Dr. Thomas M. DeBerardino

Dr. Thomas M. DeBerardino, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and joint preservation, is now with the UConn Health Center and is seeing patients in Farmington and Avon.

Photo by Chris DeFrancesco

If you’re looking for a sports medicine expert and joint preservation specialist –  UConn Health Center has just what the doctor ordered.  The Health Center’s newest orthopedic surgeon has the first week of work under his belt and is ready for patients!

Dr. Thomas DeBerardino joined the New England Musculoskeletal Institute at UConn – after more than 20 years of practicing medicine in the Army. That tour of duty ended most recently with an 8 year stint as the head team physician and sports medicine fellowship director at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. Dr. DeBerardino retired from West Point in May and headed to UConn.

“I feel very fortunate to join a growing orthopedic group that is doing great things nationally and internationally. They have a lot of notoriety in the area,” Dr. DeBerardino said. “I had an opportunity to join big groups in Chicago and New York City, but I joined here because it wasn't too big for its britches. It’s the right size, the right place and the right people.”

The road to a sports medicine specialty came back in Dr. DeBerardino’s days as a cadet and football player at West Point in the early 1980s. “I had a couple of injuries that put me under the care of some of my mentors in Army Medicine. I realized I wanted to go into medicine and that the Army would support that,” Dr. DeBerardino said. “The educational background for every cadet is an engineering heavy background and combined with an interest in medicine and orthopedics it is a kind of human engineering. Rebuilding broken things, bones, ligaments, injured joints.”

After graduating from West Point in 1985, Dr. DeBerardino headed to Hawaii to do his orthopedic training at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu – a move that worked out in more ways than one. “I met my future wife right there on the beach, right on Waikiki. We were both military brats. She was out there for a big reunion of her grandfather's unit,” he said. The couple later married and now have two kids – ages 8 and 10.

With his training in Hawaii complete, Dr. DeBerardino returned to West Point for a sports medicine fellowship. It was during that time that he crossed paths with one of his mentors – fellow UConn orthopedist and sports medicine specialist Dr. Bob Arciero. After the fellowship, Dr. DeBerardino spent 5 years in Texas as the sports physician at the Army Trauma Center in San Antonio – but West Point wasn’t far from his mind. In 2001, with Dr. Arciero retiring and heading to UConn, Dr. DeBerardino returned to West Point to take over for his mentor. “At that time, when Dr. Arciero joined the UConn group he said he’d keep an eye out for me – and he did,” Dr. DeBerardino said.

Over the years, Dr. DeBerardino honed his skills – and became the go-to doc for knees and shoulders. “I became the guy who did all the difficult knees and shoulders. Knee dislocations, multiply operated on knees and shoulders,” he said. “I'll be one of the knee and shoulder guys here, but I also bring the ability to do advanced hip arthroscopy. We try to make it minimally invasive. We can arthroscopically reconstruct almost anything in the hip, knee and shoulder.”

Patients who can benefit from the New England Musculoskeletal Institute run the gamut. “We take care of the whole age spectrum. We treat young orthopedically injured patients. We can take care of the weekend warriors with rotator cuff injuries, bum knees, torn ligaments. Then patients come all the way into their senior years. If they need a joint replacement in the knee or hip, we have surgeons who can manage that,” he said. One of Dr. DeBerardino’s goals at UConn is to raise the profile of the New England Musculoskeletal Institute. “We're trying to create a bigger footprint in the region. We're trying to become the go-to place for sports medicine and orthopedic ailments between New York City and Boston,” he said.

Dr. DeBerardino – whose grandfather lived in Connecticut in the early 1900s – says he’s excited about putting down roots of his own in the area. “It's nice coming to the place where it doesn't feel like the first day of school and you know the medical group ahead of time,” he said. “I've been coming here on weekends, visiting, finding out about living life in general in the Farmington Valley.  It's a great place to live, a great place to bring kids up. It's not quite as remote as West Point. Everyone thinks this is remote, but it’s nothing compared to West Point.”

Dr. DeBerardino’s new schedule mixes things up during the week. He operates Monday and Wednesday at the Farmington Surgery Center, sees patients at a clinic in Avon on Tuesday and at a clinic at the New England Musculoskeletal Institute on Thursday and Friday.

For appointments, call 860-679-7692.