Official rehab center for the Islanders opens in Eisenhower Park


There’s a new physical therapy center in Eisenhower Park, and in addition to being open to the public, it is the official P.T. provider for the New York Islanders. Northwell Health’s Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services Center celebrated its grand opening on April 4, and Eric Cairns, the team’s director of player development, demonstrated its services.

Cairns has suffered multiple injuries during his 11-year career as a defenseman for a number of teams in the National Hockey League. He recalled seeing doctors for dislocated shoulders, broken ankles and nerve damage in his hands, and said, “The type of care that I got back then helped me get back in the lineup sooner rather than later.”

When Cairns played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006-07, however — his last year in the NHL — post-concussion syndrome forced him to miss a lot of time on the ice. The 43-year-old said he believes the technology and experts at the STARS Center could ensure that the team’s current players don’t miss an inordinate amount of playing time if they are injured.

“After looking at the place and talking to the professional people there, I think it could be a big help — not only us but for everyone else who goes there,” Cairns said. “The care that they put into their work and how they talked about it was very impressive.”

At the STARS Center, eight staff clinicians offer specialized treatment for sports- and work-related injuries. They use the center’s state-of-the-art technology, including motion-capturing equipment, to expedite the recovery process and prevent future injuries.

Cairns described his experience with what is known as a dorsaVi Movement Suite, a device resembling a strip of tape that clinicians strapped to his ankles before he ran on a treadmill. “It had no affect on my movement at all,” Cairns said, adding that the tool recorded his movement and uncovered how certain muscles were stronger than others.

“We can use that information to tailor the rehab and help [patients] get back to what they want to do,” said Daniel Vaknin, vice president of Northwell Health’s Outpatient Therapy Network.

“Hockey players are among the toughest athletes around,” added Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, “but they often need physical therapy and rehab to stay on the ice.”

At press time, five members of the Islanders were recovering from injuries. They included Calvin de Haan, who has been out since December with a shoulder injury, according to Newsday, and Alan Quine, who has missed the past six months after undergoing surgery to repair an upper-body injury.

Cairns said he could not discuss the health of his players or when they would be back on the ice. He did say, however, that he has high hopes for their involvement with the STARS Center.

Northwell Health, which also partners with Hofstra University and the New York Lizards Major League Lacrosse team, signed a 10-year agreement to operate the STARS Center at the Islanders’ Ice Center. The East Meadow location also hosts more than 90 youth and adult hockey teams and competitive figure skaters.

Northwell Health operates 13 STARS locations throughout New York and, this month, also opened facilities in Woodbury, Great Neck and Bayside. To make an appointment, call (516) 266-5700 or visit