Patient Stories

Peter R. Thomas, MD

With a personal best deadlift of 575 pounds, a squat of 407pounds and plenty of powerlifting trophies under his belt, Phil is accustomed to fighting through adversity. When he ruptured a ligament in his wrist during rigorous training, he set out to find an orthopaedic surgeon who could help him get back to what he loves most. The search did not start well. "The first doctors I saw all said I'd never lift again," recalls the 29-year-old. "It was very discouraging to hear." Then Phil found Peter Thomas, MD, a hand and upper extremity specialist at OrthoVirginia. "He was the only doctor who told me I could get back to lifting with realistic expectations. He understood my goals and how important lifting was to me," Phil says.

X-rays revealeda complete tear of the scapholunate (SL) ligament in Phil's wrist. Dr. Thomas performed a wrist arthroscopy and ligament repair. He was able to use tissue in Phil's wrist to reinforce the repair and did not have to reconstruct the ligament with a tendon graft, which is often the case in wrist reconstruction procedures. A screw was inserted to hold the bones in place while the wrist healed. The screw was removed six months later.

After his surgery, Phil began the challenging process of rehabilitation. He wore a cast on his arm for two months and spent another four months working with a hand therapist to restore range of motion. He also did a lot of lower-body exercise that did not involve his wrist. Instead of focusing on things he couldn't do, Phil focused on those he could.

One year later, he competed in his first powerlifting meet and finished second, pulling 518 on his deadlift. Within a few months his deadlift had increased to 551 pounds. Recently, he competed against the best powerlifters in the country at the USAPL Nationals in Colorado and set a new personal best 407-pound squat.

Phil says his wife Maggie's unconditional love and support kept him going throughout his recovery, while Dr. Thomas's sensible expectations and encouragement kept him on track. "Don't ever underestimate how important it is to have a doctor who knows what you want to get back to," he says."That's OrthoVirginia's reputation – working with athletes and getting them back on the field and back to their lives."