Nazareth freshman Andrew Cerniglia has been looking forward to wrestling with the high school team for years. After an injury early on in the season, he was able to make a remarkable comeback with the help of Coordinated Health Orthopedic Surgeon Wayne Luchetti, M.D. and even helped lead his team to a district win by beating Bethlehem Catholic and helped his team win gold the following week at states.
Andrew Cerniglia has literally grown up with wrestling. The 16-year-old began wrestling at the age of six and already has a state title under his belt, which he won in 8th grade. He says he loves the feeling he gets once he steps off the mat after a great match. “Its just great to go out and do something good for your team. You just feel like you’re on cloud nine,” he says.
Though wrestling is a highly physical sport, Cerniglia was fortunate in that he never suffered any major injuries aside from minor muscle pulls or strains. He never really thought about injuries until he was hurt in a match in December. “I was at a tournament in Delaware and a kid landed on top of me and the pressure broke my collarbone,” he says.
Cerniglia says he knew right away that his collarbone was broken because he felt it snap. Fortunately, Coordinated Health Athletic Trainer Alfonse Dos Santos was at the meet and was able to triage him and recommended he come back to the Lehigh Valley to see Coordinated Health Orthopedic Surgeon Wayne Luchetti, M.D.
Dr. Luchetti immediately got an X-ray of Cerniglia’s collarbone and determined that he had a broken clavicle, which is located between the ribcage and shoulder blade. He told him that he had two options. He could either put his arm in a sling, which would get him back in eight to ten weeks or he could have surgery, which would get him back in about six weeks.
“At that point I was really just concerned with getting back to wrestling. I wanted to be back for the post season so I took the surgical route,” says Cerniglia.
He admits he was a little nervous, especially since it was his first surgery. But, he also trusted Dr. Luchetti and says he put his mind at ease by reassuring him that he would be able to begin doing some cardio within two weeks of surgery.
The procedure Cerniglia had done is called open reduction internal fixation of the clavicle and is done on an outpatient basis. During the procedure, Dr. Luchetti began by repositioning the fragments back into their normal alignment and then held them in place with metal screws and plates that are attached to the outer surface of the bone.
“The surgery is performed in high level athletes only and literally cuts their return to play time in half. It is very successful in a motivated patient like Andrew,” says Dr. Luchetti.
After surgery, Cerniglia had to keep his shoulder in a sling and then began physical therapy within two weeks. According to Physical Therapist Mike Price, most of his physical therapy was centered on stretching and muscle recovery.
Throughout his recovery, Cerniglia stayed focused on his goal of getting back to wrestling in time to finish up the year. He ended up exceeding everyone’s expectations and returning to wrestling within just five weeks of his surgery, which Dr. Luchetti says is significant since in most cases the recovery time is between ten and twelve weeks. He also ended up wrestling in the district duals with the rest of his team.
Going forward, Cerniglia says he is looking forward to continuing his wrestling career and hopefully getting a few more state titles under his belt. He is thankful that Coordinated Health was there for him when he needed them. “Dr. Luchetti, Alfonse and Mike Price were all wonderful. They all worked to get me back without rushing me and risking further injury,” he says.