Just before Thomas Wilkinson started physical therapy school at East Tennessee State University, he crashed his mountain bike – twice. They occurred just one month apart, in fact, both leading to shoulder injuries that required physical therapy.
“At that point, I definitely didn’t know what I know now,” said Thomas, the newest addition to the Step & Spine Physical Therapy team. “The injuries weren’t fun, of course, but it’s nice to look back to see how some of the exercises I did helped – how they benefited my recovery and made it possible for me to safely continue my active lifestyle.”
This appreciation for the way optimal, pain-free movement can lead a person toward an active, fulfilling life is what drew Thomas to the physical therapy profession. It’s also what stood out to Step & Spine founder and lead physical therapist, Barrett Ford, when he was looking to enhance his physical therapy team.
Barrett recently brought Thomas on board as a full-time physical therapist at Step & Spine’s Sisters clinic.
“Thomas is one of us – a person whose ultimate joy comes from helping people overcome pain and injury in order to get back to the lifestyles they enjoy,” he said. “He brings with him an impressive array of professional experience that includes injury prevention, post-surgical rehabilitation, manual therapy, spine evaluation and treatment, and general risk assessment.”
A native of East Tennessee and – still – an avid mountain biker, Thomas earned his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from East Tennessee State University. He acquired a wealth of clinical experience along the way through stints in practices in his home state as well as North Carolina, South Carolina and Vermont.
Thomas moved to Central Oregon soon after completing his doctorate in 2013, spending nine months providing outpatient physical therapy services at Peak Performance Physical Therapy in Redmond. Now at Step & Spine Physical Therapy’s Sisters clinic, Thomas says he’s eager to make his professional mark.
“I think the opportunity to work in a small, vibrant community was appealing to me,” he said. “One of my longest clinical rotations in school was in a town similar to the size of Sisters. Working in a town that size, it was neat to see the impact our physical therapy services had on the community. Everyone knew about us and the work we did, and they understood the benefits of this work.”
Such potential to impact lives in a positive, truly tangible way, Thomas added, is what first drew him to the PT profession.
“That’s what attracted me to physical therapy – the chance to help people improve their lives while doing a fun and exciting job,” he said. “Thanks to my clinical experience, I offer a well-rounded toolbox of techniques I use to help people stay active and continue to do the things they love.”
And while in Sisters, it’s also likely he’ll bring his mountain bike to work from time to time. Though last summer he presented a lecture to his alma mater titled “Biomechanics in Cycling – Downhill, Dual Slalom and Enduro Mountain Bike Racing,” make no misstate – the bike won’t necessarily be for work purposes.
“I’m looking forward to lunch break and after-work rides from the clinic,” Thomas said when asked if he’d soon be an expert of the Peterson Ridge Trail System near Sisters. “It’s part of the reward for living in such a beautiful area.”
But just in case you don’t happen to catch him pedaling by after work or during his lunch hour, please join us in welcoming Thomas to Sisters and to the Step & Spine Physical Therapy Team!