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Blue Mountain High School Athlete Back on his Game
January 18, 2022

Trevor Manbeck (in blue) grapples with Pottsville’s Grant Lapachinsky during a recent wrestling match.

Trevor Manbeck wasn’t thinking about football or wrestling when he flipped over the handlebars of his bike on a dirt trail jump in Schuylkill Haven in April. He landed hard on his left elbow, jamming his arm up into his shoulder, breaking off a piece of bone and dislodging cartilage from the joint.

The 15-year-old sophomore, from Pottsville, spends most of his time at sports or out-of-doors when he’s not at Blue Mountain High School where he’s on the football and wrestling teams. In both sports, Manbeck uses his shoulders constantly, relying on the joints’ flexibility, durability and power.

His first thought after crashing to the ground was, “What will this do to football season for me?” He had been lifting weights in the off-season to build his strength for sports. Now he couldn’t raise his left arm without feeling agonizing pain in his shoulder.

Fortunately, the all-star orthopedics team at St. Luke’s University Health Network worked expertly and diligently to repair his shoulder and restore its function, so he was back to his favorite sports in time to compete. 

At 6’2” and 245 lbs., Manbeck mans the offensive line for Blue Mountain’s Eagles football team. And when he’s not on the gridiron, he’s grappling with a foe on a wrestling mat or trudging through the woods lugging a hunting bow or rifle, pursuing a regional tradition in the great outdoors.

Each of these activities requires healthy and strong shoulders, and Manbeck wasn’t sure how long he’d be on the bench instead of the field or mat. 

St. Luke’s orthopedic surgeon Daniel Heckman, MD, a shoulder specialist, surgically repaired Manbeck’s shoulder at St. Luke’s Allentown Campus, inserting a bioabsorbable screw into the bone fragment to reattach, stabilize and promote its healing. This also held the cartilage intact, which had been separated from the shoulder bone in the accident.

“Dr. Heckman was great, explaining everything he had to do to repair my shoulder,” says Manbeck.

Dr. Heckman notes that his patient was lucky that this repair was possible, adding that it’s rare that a bone fragment can be reattached to the main shoulder bone. 

Following surgery and six weeks with his arm in a sling, Manbeck next needed extensive physical therapy to regain the function and strength of the joint. He was fortunate to do this with the guidance of Mark Mehalko, DPT, an orthopedic clinical specialist at Physical Therapy at St. Luke’s Hometown, in Tamaqua.

They worked as a team for two months, says Mehalko, starting slowly “with the goal of getting the shoulder back to football and wrestling shape,” he says. With football season looming, his patient was highly motivated to restore his shoulder to its previous condition, which he worked at diligently. 

“Trevor did a really good job on his own, not pushing too hard at first so he could heal,” he says. “He progressed more quickly than we anticipated.”

When football season arrived in September, Manbeck was cleared to play and grateful to his surgeon and physical therapist for helping him overcome his biggest physical challenge ever.

“They got me to where I needed to be to play football and now to wrestle,” he says. “It was really good to be back and not have any pain.”

He’d like to high-five Dr. Heckman and Mehalko, with his left hand, of course, for their roles in his care, which got him back to sports sooner than expected.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this after the accident,” he says, “but I had a great St. Luke’s team on my side.”