A late-evening, painful injury resulted in western Illinois resident Terry Thiel seeking treatment at Quincy Medical Group, where he was able to get immediate specialized orthopedic attention.

It was 10 on a winter evening in January. Terry Thiel and his wife, Martha, were home in Blandinsville, IL.  Martha had turned in for the night, while Terry decided to stay up a bit longer. As he recalls the events to follow, he still finds himself in a bit of disbelief.

“I went out to get some milk from the refrigerator in the garage. There are about three or four steps leading down into the garage. I made the first step fine. Then, I must have stepped too widely for the second step and fell onto the garage floor,” he shared.

He fell hard. His legs burned with pain. Over the next hour and a half, Terry lay on his garage floor contemplating his next move though the thought of moving seemed impossible. He couldn’t move his legs. All he could do was stare at the steps leading back inside his house where Martha slept. As the minutes passed, Terry somehow found the strength to make his way his into his house.

“I knew I needed help and needed to get into the house,” he explained.  “I don’t know how I did it, but I was able to drag myself up the steps.  Once I got to the top of the steps, I scooted and slid to the bedroom and my wife’s side.”

After waking Martha, they debated whether to make the long trip to town to the emergency room.  They decided to wait until morning.  When they arrived at the ER, the doctor ordered X-rays which showed no broken bones.  Terry decided to wait it out at home and check in with his primary care physician, Dr. Dana Altman at Quincy Medical Group (QMG).

Over the following week, the pain worsened. On February 6, Terry came to see Dr. Altman and it didn’t take for long for her to realize his injury needed immediate attention.

“When he came in, he was in a lot of pain and he said his knees would buckle if he tried to step up,” shared Dr. Altman.  “He was unable to extend (straighten) his knees when seated on the exam table.”

Dr. Altman called the orthopedics department and explained Terry’s condition. Within minutes, Terry was transferred to a wheelchair and taken down to see Dr. George Crickard, orthopedic surgeon with QMG, to be evaluated.

“Terry is a very optimistic guy, but when he came to see me he was in quite a bit of pain.  He wasn’t able to stand and had extensive injuries in both of his legs,” Dr. Crickard shared.

Dr. Crickard ordered an MRI, which confirmed what he had suspected. Terry had ruptured the extensor mechanism (quad tendon) in both of his legs. Though the injury itself isn’t rare, the occurrence of the same injury in both legs is.

“There have been 100 cases written up as case reports,” said Dr. Crickard. “They are more common than we probably realize, as the cases don’t get reported. In other words, the documentation on cases like Terry’s are hard to find because there is no reporting agency for these cases.”

Terry was scheduled for surgery the following week with Dr. Crickard and his colleague Dr. Douglas Navasartian, orthopedic surgeon. Prior to leaving for the day, he was brought to the QMG Physical Therapy department, where he was fitted with immobilizers to help with movement. Leah Whipple, physical therapist, and Michelle Lavery, director of therapy services, pediatric therapy, orthopedics & sports medicine, worked with Terry and his wife, so they could be at home safely.

“When you think about function, you need to be able to bend your knees to do many everyday things.  Terry wasn’t able to do that and having the same injury in both legs is not one we see very often,” Whipple explained. “We fitted him for immobilizers and worked with him on how to get in and out of bed, in and out of a chair, up and down stairs, and in and out of a car with both legs locked out straight.”

Once he felt comfortable, Terry was helped to his car and he and Martha headed home. Though the day was long, both are incredibly grateful that they left that day with a plan in place.

“I was able to get all the care I needed all at the same place and on the same day,” Terry said. “I knew I was in good hands the whole time. The big reason I wanted to come to QMG was that I knew I could get everything done right there. “

Terry had surgery the following week and spent some time at Sunset Home in Quincy for in-patient rehabilitation. His journey will be long, but Terry is hopeful with each passing day that he’ll make a full recovery.

“I’m feeling great and very grateful for all who had a part in taking care of me.”

To learn more about our Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team, click here.