Sports are important to the Gibson family of North East, Pa. So, 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.”
The First Patient
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.
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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 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 went on to play both football and basketball in high school and won the Comeback Athlete of the Year award as a senior. He then played Division I football for Penn State University.
He also returned to UPMC Sports Medicine in Erie during summer 2022 for rehab after he injured his shoulder during football practice. While doing a summer internship in Erie, Alex once again worked with Robert Deppen, who helped him recover from a posterior labral tear.
“It was a nice way to retire his football career and put an end to the injuries he has suffered over the years,” Kelly says.
Alex played on the Nittany Lion team that won the Rose Bowl in 2023. He has since graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
The Second Patient
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 was playing middle school football when he tore his ACL.
“We just stuck with Dr. Delullo,” says Kelly. “We knew he was also one of the best knee repair guys in the area, so it was an easy decision.”
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.
In 2022, David saw Patrick Williams, DO, orthopaedic surgeon, because he was having shoulder pain. After an MRI, Dr. Williams determined David should rest his overused throwing arm. He also was given stretches and lessons on how to ice and heat his shoulder when it’s sore.
David will attend Penn State in fall 2023. “We are excited to say he will be playing baseball at Penn State Behrend,” Kelly says. “Both our sons are PSU athletes!”
The Third Patient
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 her 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.”
Keeping It in the Family
She 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.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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.