To commemorate 75 years of innovation in physical and rehabilitation medicine, NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation held a diamond anniversary recognition on September 22, during National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, to celebrate the groundbreaking concept of whole-person care developed by Howard A. Rusk, MD, during World War II.
The event recognized the contributions of clinicians and public servants to support rehabilitation care and accessibility. Among the honorees were John-Ross “JR” Rizzo, MD; Mitchell Batavia, PhD, PT; Quemuel Arroyo, MPA; and Mooyeon Oh-Park, MD, MS.
Dr. Rizzo is the Ilse Melamid Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Neurology at NYU Langone. He was presented with the Howard A. Rusk Leadership and Innovation Award for his work developing assistive technology for people with a disability, among his other contributions to the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Dr. Batavia, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award, is an associate professor in the physical therapy program at NYU and a former department chair. Arroyo received the Public Service Award as the first chief accessibility officer and special adviser to the chair and CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Dr. Oh-Park received the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Award. She is chief medical officer and senior vice president at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York, and a professor in its Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.
75 Years of Rehabilitation Leadership and Innovation
In 1948, the program began with quarters in Bellevue Hospital, before establishing an independent center and opening its doors in 1951. Over the past 75 years, Rusk Rehabilitation has expanded its services to provide high-quality care and recovery resources for people who have been diagnosed with and experienced orthopedic injury, brain injury and concussion, cancer, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, chronic neurologic conditions, limb loss, pediatric conditions and injuries, and spinal cord injury.
Rusk Rehabilitation was founded on the belief that recovery care should consider not only the physical condition but also the emotional, psychological, social, and vocational needs of the patient. Dr. Rusk first adopted this multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation for airmen injured during World War II. His model of care gained support across military branches and expanded to 250 centers across the country, but Dr. Rusk knew the value of rehabilitation care and that it needed to expand beyond the military. That ultimately led to a partnership with the Veterans Administration and then building the first comprehensive rehabilitation center in New York City in 1948.
“At Rusk Rehabilitation, we continue the legacy of Dr. Rusk, using the latest technology and practices to improve patient outcomes and quality of life,” said Steven R. Flanagan, MD, the Howard A. Rusk Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone. “Our multidisciplinary team is able to treat the whole patient, creating a network catering to their physical, psychological, and social needs, leading to the most optimal outcome for their recovery.”
From that first center in 1948, Rusk Rehabilitation has expanded significantly over the past decades, serving 2,000 patients across 27 locations annually. With 780 clinicians on staff, Rusk Rehabilitation is one of the largest facilities in the country and has trained nearly 1,000 physicians in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Rusk Rehabilitation has consistently been ranked No. 1 for rehabilitation in New York State and among the top 5 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.