Thomas’ ACL Reconstruction Surgery Patient Story
Since he was two-years old, Thomas Vitale would pick up his TV guide and search for the string of letters that resembled ‘soccer’. Eventually, finding those letters became rhythmic to him–fast enough to catch kick-off.
“Soccer was the first word I knew how to read,” said Vitale. “My dad watched all the games with me, and I’d record and rewatch them on VCR,” he recalled.
But watching games on television wasn’t the only way they shared their enjoyment of soccer. Inspired by his father’s passion for coaching, Vitale’s enthusiasm as a spectator became fervent enough that it made him a player on the field. Center mid.
Vitale started playing in tournaments, and naturally, his father accompanied him during his travels. He even started coaching Vitale.
During his teenage years, Vitale transitioned from his original position as center-mid to winger. Vitale jokingly attributed the switch-up to a late onset of puberty compared to his teammates.
“I was 4 ’11 until I was 17 years old,” said Vitale. “Everyone else was 6 ’2.’’ But that didn’t slow down his soccer career. Almost 15 years later, with an added foot to his stature, Vitale now plays as a striker and attacking center midfielder. Vitale even played for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team one summer in 2005.
After moving to L.A. in 2016, soccer became his outlet for making friends. He joined the West Hollywood soccer club and did just that. During the pandemic, soccer continued to give him social interactions, but at a distance.
“It was one of the first social events I did because it was outdoors and there was lots of motion,” said Vitale.
The Injury: ACL tear
But his season was abruptly interrupted after a contact injury.
“On the second play of the game, I went up for a headball, and my knee hit the goalie’s knee,” said Vitale. “I remember trying to get up to walk, and my knee felt so weird,” he continued. Though he didn’t experience immediate swelling in his knee, a classic indicator of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, the diagnosis was later confirmed by Dr. Frank Petrigliano.
ACL tears account for nearly half of all knee injuries.