Contractor/carpenter gets new lease on life with UNT Health treatment

November 4, 2013

Lance Thornhill and Ryan Seals, DO

Lance Thornhill woke up the day after Halloween 2012 and immediately called his wife, Trudee, visiting her mother in Kansas. "You’d better come home."

When she heard what he had to say, she hurried back. He couldn’t move his right leg.

He describes the next few months, before he met Ryan Seals, DO, Assistant Professor of Osteopathic Medicine at UNT Health Science Center, as "pretty pathetic."

Thornhill, 61, a general contractor and carpenter, was a very active man. He spent years as a safety inspector for North Richland Hills, hardscaped his backyard with a gazebo and waterfalls, and enlarged his house to move his mother in. Now, he barely could limp around because of foot drop, which makes it hard or impossible to lift the front part of the foot.

When he tried to sleep at night, the pain was so bad, "my wife held me while I bawled." 

Trudee Thornhill, who serves on the Tarrant Appraisal District Review Board, took her husband to his primary care provider and a neurologist. They arrived at various incorrect diagnoses, "all fatal," she said, including spinal tumors.

Said Thornhill, "Two weeks before Christmas 2012, they told me it was Lou Gehrig’s disease. On the Friday before Christmas, the neurologist said no, you just have arthritis, you will have to live with it — put a brace on that leg and drag it around."

“Everyone at UNT Health cares about the patient — nurses and receptionist included. And the doctor actually listens to you.”

–Lance Thornhill

Then he met Seals, who practices osteopathic manipulative medicine at UNT Health’s Patient Care Center on the UNTHSC campus. After two treatments, Thornhill was moving almost normally, and now he’s walking for exercise.

"The first doctor in this whole sorry mess to really care was Dr. Seals," Thornhill said. "He got me functional and back in the race as a human being."

Seals treats him every three weeks. What caused the foot drop remains a mystery. "I’m pleased that he’s making progress," Seals said. "The dropped foot has resolved, and now we’re working on back pain and sensory issues."

Nearly a year after Lance woke up with a useless leg, his wife fetched her mother from Kansas for a 90th birthday cookout with 17 guests. Thornhill set up tables, grilled food and shepherded children. "A beautiful day," Trudee Thornhill said. 

Vic Holmes, Mpas, Edd, Pa C Assistant Professor
HSC Pride: Increased pronoun use is an emerging trend among health professionals

By Diane Smith-Pinckney The embroidery on Vic Holmes’ black scrubs identify him as a physician assistant and an ally to LGBTQ+ patients. The words, stitched under a rainbow-colored Caduceus pin and near his heart, read: “Vic Holmes, PA-C, He/Him/His, Family Medicine.” Pronouns are...Read more

Jun 21, 2021

Hsc Katie Pelch
Public health scientist lends expertise to national database addressing safer use of chemicals in our environment

By Sally Crocker Katie Pelch, PhD, wants you to know what’s in our environment and how the chemicals we’re exposed to every day may affect our health. Dr. Pelch is a part-time Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, in the HSC School of Public Health (SPH), where...Read more

Jun 21, 2021

Hsc Tcom Gold Humanism Society Inductees Fc
TCOM Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomes new inductees 

By Steven Bartolotta The humanistic side of medicine is alive and well at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The TCOM Chapter of the Arnold P Gold Foundation inducted 45 students and four faculty members into the Gold Humanism Honor Society on the campus of The University of North Texas H...Read more

Jun 15, 2021

John Licciardone Hsc Fort Worth Fc
eHealth interventions could help African-American patients in battle with chronic pain

By Steven Bartolotta The PRECISION Pain Research Registry at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth has identified important racial disparities in pain management that became more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its study recently published in the special COVID...Read more

Jun 14, 2021