Howard A. Rusk, MD (1901-1989), a tall, soft-spoken physician from NYU Langone Medical Center and widely considered “the father of rehabilitation medicine,” set about to establish a facility founded on the belief that care should focus on the whole person—not just on their physical illness or disability, but also on their emotional, psychological, and social needs as well. This dream became a reality with the opening of the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation on the NYU Langone campus in 1950. Dr. Rusk’s pioneering contributions were later recognized when the Center was renamed Rusk Rehabilitation in his honor.
Today, NYU Langone proudly celebrates the 65th anniversary of Rusk Rehabilitation, the model for rehabilitation medicine around the world. It is the world’s first university-affiliated facility devoted entirely to rehabilitation medicine, and has been voted the best rehabilitation hospital in New York and among the top 10 in the country by U.S. News & World Report for the last 25 years.
To celebrate this historic milestone, NYU Langone will host a special Rusk Rehabilitation Research Day symposium on Friday, June 12, 2015 at the King Juan Carlos of Spain Center at New York University in New York City. The research symposium will include lectures and technical exhibits from top physiatry and physical therapy (PT) experts at Rusk. Rusk researchers including Tamara Bushnik, PhD, John-Ross Rizzo, MD, and Preeti Raghavan, MD, will describe their novel findings looking at the latest care considerations for traumatic brain injury, vision and stroke respectively.
Internationally renowned bionics expert Alberto Esquenazi, MD, Chairman of Physical Medicine at MossRehab in Philadelphia, will be honored with the Rusk Award for Innovation and Leadership to acknowledge his contributions to the field of rehabilitation medicine. He also will deliver a keynote address at the symposium on bionics.
Also presenting a keynote address will be renowned physical therapy expert, Marilyn Moffat, DPT, program director of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Physical Therapy, who will be discussing PT in non-communicable disease management.
Also as part of the festivities, an exhibition will be on display at NYU Langone’s Medical Science Building Gallery from June 8 to June 17 called “Dr. Howard A. Rusk: Caring for the World.” The exhibition contains a selection of dolls from a collection that began in 1950 with two dolls presented to Dr. Rusk by a physician from India who came to the Institute to study the rehabilitation methods pioneered by Rusk. As medical professionals from numerous countries came to the Institute to learn about rehabilitation practices, the custom of gifting the Institute with a traditional doll representing the donor’s home country continued. The exhibition is curated by the Real Estate Development and Facilities Art Program and Collection.
“At Rusk Rehabilitation, we remain committed to Dr. Rusk’s original vision to utilize the latest research and technology to improve the lives of patients during what can be their most trying times,” says Steven R. Flanagan, MD, the Howard A. Rusk Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone. “Every clinician at Rusk, from our physiatrists to our physical and occupational therapists and nurses, to the psychologists, speech-language pathologists and vocational specialists, invest themselves heavily into each of their patient’s care, sharing any struggles they endure along the way to reach the most optical outcome for their recovery and living fulfilling lives.”
Following the closing of Rusk’s original 34th Street location in 2012, Rusk Rehabilitation has expanded its services and now operates in new, well-designed spaces throughout NYU Langone-sponsored practices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
At these inpatient and outpatient locations, Rusk clinicians work with people who have a variety of diagnoses and treatment needs for injuries that include brain injury, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, chronic neurological conditions, limb loss, orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions, pediatric conditions and injuries, spinal cord injury, and stroke.
Rusk Rehabilitation’s leadership in rehab medicine extends beyond patients’ bedsides to hospitals around the world, through its commitment to educating specialists locally and internationally on the latest evidenced-based treatment practices. Rusk also has one of the largest rehabilitation medicine training programs in the country with 36 residency slots and three ACGME accredited fellowships in brain injury medicine, sports medicine, and pediatric rehabilitation. In fact, many of Rusk’s former physicians-in-training have gone on to have distinguished careers, including:
- Philip R. Lee, MD, a resident in the 1950s, who served two presidents as the Assistant Secretary of Health: Lyndon Johnson from 1965 to 1969, and Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998
- Antonio Periquet, MD, former Secretary of Health for the Philippines, and Leobardo Ruiz, MD, a former Surgeon General for the Mexican Army, who both trained at Rusk
- 20 Rusk residents have gone on to become chairs of rehabilitation departments at other institutions, including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey; Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; and Boston University School of Medicine.