Back Pain Wouldn’t Trap Him, Army Vet Gets Back to His Duty

After his favorite activity caused this local man to experience back pain, he knew it was time to seek help now, before the pain took him away from his duties.

At 65 years old, Pete LeFreniere was thrilled to be retired, and finally pick up the hobbies he left behind years ago.  Pete used to play the violin and spend many nights at classical music concerts. He also loved attending sporting events and worked with the local boy scouts' troops.  

Back in his early thirties, Pete joined the Army and spent 6 active duty years in Germany working in finance and accounting, but gave up most of his hobbies during his time away. In 1995, Pete moved to Rhode Island after accepting a position with the Navy in Newport and continued to focus on his department of defense career in Connecticut and Massachusetts for several years. 

Almost 25 years ago, Pete joined the Appalachian Mountain Club, an organization where volunteers keep up with local trail maintenance, and schedule walks, hikes, and other outdoor skills programs. Over the years, Pete participated in several of these activities, however, trail maintenance became his favorite. 

After almost 3 decades in the federal workforce, Pete was able to retire a year and a half ago and finally give his old hobbies another try. Pete loves to attend college basketball, hockey, and soccer games, go to classical music concerts, practice the violin, and even get back outside to enjoy his volunteer work.  

In his many years of trail maintenance with the Appalachian Mountain Club, and his efforts on Earth day events, Pete had bent and twisted his spine the wrong way hundreds of times. Over time, the stress on his back became too much, and after months of persistent pain, Pete knew it was time to seek help before the pain took away his favorite hobbies.  

When the pain continued, Pete tried a decompression procedure that failed to provide lasting relief, so he underwent spinal fusion in November of 2018. After finishing his at-home physical therapy, the Newport VNA recommended Performance for the more comprehensive treatment that Pete required. So, Pete made an appointment with Dr. Paul Grafov at the Middletown clinic.  

Over the next 2 months in physical therapy, Dr. Grafov and the rest of the team worked with Pete to improve his flexibility and increase the strength in his back and lower body. Pete also learned new techniques to perform at home to maintain the progress he made over the previous weeks.  “Everyone was great there, so polite, courteous, competent, and patient with people like me who really need it” he smiled.

After months of hard work, Pete finished up his physical therapy, just in time to celebrate Earth day by picking up trash at Burlingame State Park with ease. 

Now that he’s pain-free, Pete can continue his volunteer work, pursue his love for classical music by attending the chamber music concerts or listening at the veteran's auditorium, spend his weekends at local sporting events, and finally start enjoying every moment of his retirement. 


- Learn more about Dr. Paul Grafov

- Click here to learn more about what physical therapy is and what it can do to help you. If you are still not sure if physical therapy is what you need request an appointment to speak with a physical therapist about your concerns

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