get healthyORTHOPEDICS

Hitting It Out of the Park


In his 24 years of playing professional baseball, catcher Luis “Machete” Rodriguez says he never had a major sports injury. Instead, it was a fall from a hoverboard at a 2015 Christmas party that sent him to UHS Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with shoulder damage. A ride on his nephew’s new board looked like fun, but he didn’t get far. “I never even got my second foot on the board” before ending up on the ground, says Mr. Rodriguez, who has spent his career in the major leagues and independent organizations.

The pain was bad, but the timing was even worse. After eight years with the Bridgeport Bluefish of Connecticut, he had just been named the team’s manager and the spring season started in three months. “I needed to be ready to work,” he says.

That’s why the 42-year-old Johnson City resident was happy to find experienced, specialized care close to home with UHS Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. After an MRI and in-depth consultations with orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist David Gallagher, MD, Mr. Rodriguez says he felt “100 percent confident” about his decision to have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and a SLAP tear (torn cartilage) in his shoulder joint.


Dr. Gallagher specializes in the latest, most effective shoulder surgery techniques. “He knew exactly what the problem was and explained all of my options,” both surgical and nonsurgical, Mr. Rodriguez says. It also helped that Dr. Gallagher came highly recommended by friends who had also had shoulder surgery, he adds.

Mr. Rodriguez’s two shoulder injuries were addressed in one outpatient arthroscopic visit, under regional anesthesia. “Arthroscopy uses smaller incisions than traditional open surgery and the sutures we use are absorbable — there’s no need to remove anything after surgery and less chance for infection,” Dr. Gallagher explains.

To repair Mr. Rodriguez’s torn rotator cuff, the surgeon used double-row sutures, “a new technique that is biomechanically superior to the standard single-row suture technique,” and promotes better healing, he says. To address the cartilage tear and relieve pain and inflammation,

Dr. Gallagher also performed a newer procedure called biceps tenodesis, which repositions the biceps tendon. “This technique can result in a less painful recovery and a quicker return to activities compared with traditional procedures,” he says.


Mr. Rodriguez returned home the day of his surgery. After a two-week rest with his arm in a sling, he returned to UHS for physical therapy. By week three he says he no longer needed pain medication or the sling. A month after the surgery, he was given a clean bill of health by Dr. Gallagher, and was ready to start the spring season as the Bridgeport Bluefish’s new manager. “I healed fast, and I feel like I have a brand new shoulder. I can tell Dr. Gallagher did a great job,” he says.

Get back in the game with physical therapy

Personalized physical therapy and rehabilitation at UHS can help you get back to your favorite activities after an orthopedic injury or surgery. Your care team will perform a comprehensive evaluation and create an individualized care plan to help you achieve goals such as:

  • Rapid return to prior function
  • Quick return to sport
  • Greater confidence
  • Decreased fall risk

UHS Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation is available for those recovering from surgery in the hospital, those in the transitional care unit who need additional time preparing to return home, and those patients recovering at home. Experienced physical and occupational therapists have a diverse knowledge of conditions and treatment options, and many have advanced training in specialized areas.

“Our orthopedic physicians coordinate directly with UHS physical therapists and rehabilitation experts,” says Lawrence Wiesner, DO, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of musculoskeletal services. “The department is easily accessible, with convenient locations in the UHS service area.”


Close to home

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Residents of Delaware and Chenango counties have nearby access to UHS orthopedic expertise at the following locations:

UHS Orthopedics – Norwich

4 Newton Avenue

Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.


UHS Primary Care – Walton

2 Titus Place

Monday–Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

Same-day appointments available




To make an appointment with a sports medicine or orthopedic specialist at the UHS Orthopedic Center, call 771-2220.