Sports are important to the Gibson family of North East, Pa.

When injuries happen, they turn to the experts at UPMC Sports Medicine to get them off the sidelines — and back in the game — as soon as possible.

“Our whole family has been there for diagnosis and treatment,” says Kelly Gibson, the mother of three. “Whenever someone gets hurt, we know where to go.”

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Three for Three

It all started in August 2016 when Kelly’s oldest son, Alex Furmanek, then 16, took a cleat to the left ankle during football practice at North East High School.

When x-rays revealed a broken tibia that needed surgery, Kelly asked the school’s athletic trainer for a recommendation. Erin Terry, ATC, a certified athletic trainer with UPMC Sports Medicine, recommended a UPMC doctor: James Delullo, MD, a certified sports orthopaedic surgeon specializing in trauma.

Dr. Delullo inserted two screws to stabilize the ankle. During Alex’s recovery, Erin worked with him in the pool and later on equipment to build up his quads. He was cleared to play basketball in December, but an emergency appendectomy set him back another two months.

Erin continued working with him during recovery to strengthen his abdominal muscles.

Two years later, Alex was back in surgery to repair a broken fibula after another football injury. This time, Dr. Delullo inserted a plate and eight screws to stabilize the bone.

While undergoing treatment for his leg injury, Alex also consulted with a UPMC Sports Medicine orthopaedic surgeon specializing in shoulder injuries about a nagging shoulder pain. After an examination and MRI, the doctor recommended Alex undergo physical therapy (PT) at UPMC Sports Medicine with Robert Deppen, PT, DPT, for his shoulder while also having PT for his leg.

Alex, who played both football and basketball at North East High School and won Comeback Athlete of the Year as a senior, is now a redshirt sophomore on the Penn State football team.

Kelly’s younger son, David, was the second member of the Gibson family to receive care at UPMC Sports Medicine.

In fall 2017, the then 12-year-old boy was playing middle school football when he tore his ACL.

“We just stuck with Dr. Delullo. We knew he was also one of the best knee repair guys in the area, so it was an easy decision,” says Kelly.

Dr. Delullo used a quadricep tendon to repair David’s ACL during reconstruction surgery. David spent four months in physical therapy at UPMC Sports Medicine. He returned to baseball the next summer and basketball the following school year, but decided to leave football.

Next was Kelly’s youngest child, Ali, who suffered an ankle injury during dance in 2019. Kelly knew exactly what to do: she consulted Erin, who sent them to Dr. Delullo. After x-rays ruled out a serious injury, he prescribed rest for the 12-year-old’s sprained ankle.

She continues to dance and plays volleyball.

“Every injury seemed to get less traumatic or heartbreaking because we had such good care at UPMC Sports Medicine,” says Kelly, an Erie area human resource manager. “We knew they’d see us through it every time.”

All in the Family

Kelly and her husband, David, have also seen Dr. Delullo for various aches and pains.

Kelly, who teaches high-intensity cardio fitness classes at the Eastside Family YMCA, was diagnosed with arthritis in her knees. David, who saw Dr. Delullo for hip pain, has had injections and was referred for physical therapy.

“It’s been awesome,” says Kelly. “Dr. Delullo is like a friend now. We have such a wonderful rapport with him.”

Word of the family’s experience with the entire UPMC Sports Medicine team has made the rounds.

In fact, families often turn to Kelly for advice on where to go and who to see when they are dealing with an injury.

“I tell everyone they’re the group to go to in Erie. UPMC Hamot and UPMC Sports Medicine in Erie have never steered me wrong,” adds Kelly.

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.

This article is most relevant to people located in Northwest Pa. and Western New York. If you want to only be shown articles relevant to your region, then please update your preferred region here: