State Wrestling Champ Grapples with Torn ACL and Triumphs!

As a champion high school wrestler, Steve Congenie of Oakbrook Terrace has faced some tough opponents.

But during an off-season match in May of 2010, the 17-year-old grappler met his toughest opponent ever: a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a severe injury that could have put an end to his successful wrestling career.

"I was behind my opponent, trying to lift him in the air," the two-time state champ recalls. "All of a sudden, I fell to the mat; my knee just completely gave out. I finished the match, but every time I tried to pivot, it just didn't work."

After an exhaustive internet search, Steve's mom, Kari, contacted a prominent pediatric orthopedic specialist at Boston Children's Hospital–Harvard. Though they were prepared to travel, Boston Children's recommended a highly skilled pediatric orthopedic sports medicine specialist in Chicago: Harvard-trained James Krcik, M.D., of the Advanced Orthopedic Institute at Ingalls.

The next day, the Congenies met with Dr. Krcik, who recommended reconstruction of the ACL followed by intensive physical therapy. "Dr. Krcik was very emphatic that the key to a successful recovery was following the rehabilitation protocols to the letter," Kari, Steve's mom, explained.

"The ACL is one of four main ligaments in the knee. It will not heal on its own, so the standard treatment is reconstruction surgery," Dr. Krcik added. "With appropriate treatment and rehabilitation, 90 to 95 percent of people who undergo ACL reconstruction surgery can return to full sports participation within six to nine months."

Highly motivated to wrestle again, Steve did exactly what he was told. And less than a year after his devastating ACL tear and subsequent surgery, Steve triumphed on the mat again, earning his second state championship title!

"It showed how determined I was to wrestle again," Steve said. "Dr. Krcik was extremely thorough. I always knew what I was supposed to do."

"We're so proud of Steve, and we're very pleased with Dr. Krcik and the care Steve received at Ingalls," Kari added. "It's very reassuring to know that there's someone of Dr. Krcik's caliber so close to home."

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