On the Road Again

When a bicycling accident left Harry Colman, then 56, with a badly fractured hip, he was thankful for the care he received at Augusta Health. With the help of Thomas Pereles, MD, orthopedist on staff at Augusta Health, Harry is back on his bike and feeling better than ever.

Harry Colman with Dr. PerelesHarry has been an active person all his life. An avid cyclist, he also was once an active runner and even qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon. It was this event, however, that made Harry think about getting more serious about cycling.

"The Boston Marathon was somewhat anticlimactic for me, and I gradually lost interest in running," says Harry. "That's when I became passionate about cycling. You can cover a lot more ground on a bike than you can when you're running, and, unlike being in a car, you're out experiencing the great outdoors. The beautiful countryside and the wildlife—that's what I love about cycling."

The Accident

Back at home in Waynesboro, Virginia, Harry and his wife, Ann, soon began riding regularly and decided to organize a century ride, which started and ended at their own home. A great success, the ride became an annual event and even spurred the creation of a local bicycle club. It was on a regular, everyday ride on April 12, 2003, however, that Harry had an accident that changed his life forever.

"I was riding with a friend I'd ridden thousands of miles with when he suddenly slowed down and I didn't notice," says Harry. "My front tire got hung up on his rear wheel and I fell down hard, shattering my hand, hip, and helmet. My helmet saved my life." Initially, Harry was treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center where doctors told him he needed a hip replacement. They couldn't do the procedure at that time, however, because his hip was too badly shattered and there was nothing to attach the prosthesis to. Instead, the physicians patched it up with plates and screws and told him he'd have to wait for it to heal before they could perform further surgery.

Pain & Relief

Over the next two years, Harry continued to be as active as possible with his marginal right hip, but a rapid decline of clearance in the joint made his hip very stiff and painful. In January 2006, Harry decided he couldn't take the pain anymore and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Pereles, who practices at Shenandoah Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. His timing couldn't have been better.

"When I first saw Harry, his hip joint had essentially collapsed and was rubbing bone on bone," says Dr. Pereles. "Although his previous surgery had worked well temporarily, it was definitely time for a hip replacement."

The surgery was scheduled for February, and from the very morning after the procedure, Harry felt better than he had in two and a half years.

"I was walking by the day after surgery, and I no longer needed pain medications on a day-to-day basis," says Harry. "It made me wish I'd done it earlier!"

Modern Joint Replacements

As technology has improved over the years, so have the prostheses used in joint replacements. Today, the prostheses used at Augusta Health are often cementless, made out of metal, plastic, or ceramic, and last longer than ever.

"One of the most common misconceptions about joint replacements is that they'll have to be replaced every 10 or 15 years," says Dr. Pereles. "The new prostheses are so good, however, it's unlikely they'll ever wear out. They also won't come loose because, without cement, the bone grows directly into the prosthesis and makes it part of your regular skeletal structure. A successful joint replacement like Harry's could last for as long as 50 years."

On the Road Again

Within six weeks of his hip replacement, Harry was back on his bike. Since then, he's ridden in five century events and rode more than 2,500 miles in 2007 alone. Now, he can't stop singing the praises of Augusta Health and its staff.

"I am so fortunate to have had the help of such an accomplished surgeon at Augusta Health when I needed it most," says Harry. "The Shenandoah Valley is very lucky to have such a wonderful facility and skilled physicians like Dr. Pereles. I am so grateful for the care I received at Augusta Health—they gave me my life back."

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