Two-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Clay Cerny undergoes surgery for broken back |

Two-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Clay Cerny undergoes surgery for broken back

Two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Clay Cerny underwent surgery April 7 at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to repair a broken back and the tie-down roper will miss the remainder of the 2008 season.

Doctors inserted rods and four screws in the course of performing a bone graft on Cerny’s L-5 vertebra. He is due to be discharged from the hospital on April 9 and return to his home in Brazoria, TX, while he recovers.

X-rays will be taken in six weeks to make sure Cerny’s back is healing properly and doctors will then work out a rehabilitation program. He has been told to stay off horseback for at least six months.

Cerny (pronounced Chur-nee) had been dealing with back pain for months when he aggravated the pre-existing injury while competing in the semifinal round of the tie-down roping at $1.3 million RodeoHouston, March 19.

“He just felt a sharp pain,” said Cerny’s wife, Jodie. “Our best guess is that (his vertebra) slipped and caused more damage. He thought he could tough it out. He even entered Huntsville (TX) and competed in one round there before the pain got to be too much.

“We thought it was something like the herniated disk that Trevor Brazile had at Las Vegas. It was a bit shocking to have the MRI and hear that Clay had a broken back. The doctor said if his spine had slipped any more he could have been paralyzed.”

The 32-year-old Cerny, who qualified for the NFR in 1999 and 2000, was off to his best start in several years, standing 15th in the Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings with earnings of $19,339. He won February’s Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth, Texas.

After limited competition for four years, Cerny came back to compete in 61 rodeos in 2007, finishing 37th in the world standings and encouraging him, Jodie said, to take one more shot at qualifying for the Wrangler NFR before his son Chance, 4, and daughter, Cassie, 2, started going to school.

“We are just looking at the big picture,” Jodie Cerny said. “This could have been so much worse. As long as he has good mobility and is not in constant pain, he can come back and try for the NFR next year. His attitude about all of this has just been wonderful.”

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