Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Lawrence Theodore Petrakis, MD, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Doctors for dedication, achievements, and leadership in the health care industry.
In Dr. Petrakis, creativity is an instinct, and originality an impulse. It’s somewhat uncommon to encounter a scientist, a logician who also understands the world in a more poetic, or philosophical light. But it is, after all, these unlikely combinations that breed the most innovative minds.
Over the course of what will be a 50-year career come 2019, Dr. Petrakis has set just such an example; one of ingenuity and professional curiosity, not only in his clinical practice, but in his research and entrepreneurial pursuits as well.
A fascination with the world of science, and medicine in particular, began at an early age and was cultivated by his mother – a registered nurse and later biology teacher, whom he admired greatly for her intelligence and strength of character. From backyard science experiments as a young boy (including the successful launching of a home-made two-stage rocket into the mayor’s garden at the age of 14), Lawrence Petrakis went on to receive a BSc. in Chemistry from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and an M.D. from the same institution, making him a Physician at just 23. He continued his specialty training, completing a rotating internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, and a residency in Psychiatry at the University of Washington in Seattle. After successfully passing his examinations for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, he enrolled in the PhD. program at the University of Washington in the field of Neuropharmacolgy. While still in the first year of the program, he was offered an Assistant Professorship and the direction of a clinical unit in the Department of Psychiatry, a truly singular proposition given his then-status as a student, a deal that Dr. Petrakis eschewed in order to pursue clinical practice.
Returning to San Francisco, and for the next 15 years, Dr. Petrakis, along with two Physiatrists and a consulting staff, ran a 30-bed rehabilitation center within what was then St. Joseph’s Hospital. During this time he also volunteered as a Physician at the historic Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, and regularly manned the rock concerts that were a cornerstone of Flower Power era San Francisco.
Eventually Dr. Petrakis broke off from the group and started his own practice, in which he is still active to this day. His focus is chronic pain management, where he continues to push the boundaries of convention, by decrying the misuse of narcotics in the treatment of chronic pain as short sighted for their transient effectiveness, and the inherent risk of addiction for the patient. This unconventional stance, which he has held since his early days in practice, has pushed him to focus on other methods of treatment in his own field, and namely to explore the concept of physical exercise as a prescribed method of medical treatment.
Preliminary findings have caused him to invest heavily in establishing the notion of exercise as a unique medical tool, through the invention of a uniformly weighted training suit, originally designed to enable the wearer to engage in unobtrusive exercise through daily activity.
Lawrence T. Petrakis, M.D. is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, FRCP(C), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, FRSM, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, ABPN.
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