Mike Thomas knew he faced a long recovery.
In 2011, he was riding his motorcycle when an approaching car made a quick left turn – not noticing him traveling 60 mph in the oncoming lane. The head-on collision sent him flying 200 feet through the air and, combined with the impact, broke nearly every bone on the left side of his body.
Some say he is lucky.
Four surgeries and a series of metal rods and plates rebuilt his left side and completely reconstructed his shoulder. He spent the following three months in a hospital bed, and a month in a wheel chair before finally being able to walk on crutches.
And although he had begun walking again, Thomas still faced a number of complications. He couldn’t touch his left foot to the ground or use his left arm. His muscles were jelly. His joints were swollen and immobile. The ongoing pain and lack of mobility were drastically affecting his quality of life.
He decided it was time for a change and sought physical therapy treatment to regain function and regular movement.
Thomas was first introduced to Amanda Pilz – owner and practicing physical therapist at ProMotion Physical Therapy – in February 2012.
It only took one meeting for Pilz to recognize Thomas’s needs were extensive – and would require long-term treatment. He couldn’t tolerate bearing weight. The joint in his shoulder was locked, and lack of regular movement had severely weakened his muscles.
Over the next 10 months, Pilz – alongside physical therapist assistant Carrie Shamburger – started the long process of treatment, working with Thomas 2-3 times a week. She developed a specific exercise plan that fit his needs and worked within a realistic timeline to help him recover.
Pilz began by addressing basic wound care and release of adhesion restrictions, before progressing to small movements aimed at improving his joint ranges and muscle firing patterns. She then shifted to joint mobilizations and exercises to increase his strength and functional range of motion for his active lifestyle demands.
Now almost two years after the accident, Thomas is back on his feet and credits his recovery to Pilz and her team.
“They pushed me, made me sweat and stretched me to the limit every week,” Thomas says. “They built up my confidence and gave me encouragement during those weeks when I thought I was regressing and felt like giving up.”
Pilz mirrors Thomas’ sentiments and emphasizes that while treatment is the first stepping stone toward recovery, the best results come from patients who are fully committed to their program.
“When we meet with patients, it is important that we help them set specific goals that guide them toward recovery,” Pilz says.
Pilz says there was no shortage of motivation in Thomas’s case.
“There were a few times we had to pull in the reigns and remind him to take things more slowly,” Pilz says. “But it’s always refreshing to work with someone who understands that their investment in recovery will give them the highest dividends.”
And for Thomas, physical therapy not only helped him recover, but it showed him the bigger picture – that includes traveling, riding mountain bikes, playing volleyball and walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding only six months after the accident.
Feats that seemed too difficult to overcome but made possible with the help of physical therapy.