Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
The discipline of rehabilitation medicine developed as a result of the need to bring about the recovery of disabled members of the armed forces who had served during World War II. Rehabilitation medicine has been a part of the medical school curriculum since the early 1950s. In 1954 an inpatient rehabilitation unit was opened at the New England Medical Center. In 1955 the school received its first training grant from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, which enabled it to establish a division of physical medicine and rehabilitation within the Department of Medicine. Dr. Heinrich G. Brugsch, who had been responsible for developing the Boston Dispensary's rehabilitation program, was its first chief, serving from 1955 to 1956. From 1956 to 1958 the department was led by Dr. Frederick Shepard, M1952, an alumnus who had received his rehabilitation training at the Rusk Institute in New York, and from 1958 to 1963 it was headed up by Dr. John Lorenz. During this period students received an exposure to rehabilitation medicine throughout all four years. In the mid-1960s a residency program was established at the New England Medical Center; this program became merged with that of the Boston V.A. Medical Center in 1973.
During the last twenty-five years, the department has been led by several distinguished experts in rehabilitation medicine, including Drs. Harold Sterling, Frank Krusen, Carl Grainger, Paul Corcoran, Bruce Gans, Nancy Reisman Mann, and Marvin Brooke, the current chairman, who received his M.D. degree from Emory University and trained at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Grainger, who served as chair from 1968 to 1977, and Dr. Glenn Gresham, who directed the research program, became pioneers in the scientific measurement of function in disabled persons and edited the first textbook of functional assessment in rehabilitation. Since that time rehabilitation engineering has produced new techniques for plastic orthotics and computerized nonvocal communication devices; electrodiagnostic procedures, including electromyography and nerve conduction tests, have been refined; and neuropsychological testing techniques for developmentally or traumatically brain-injured persons have been introduced.
After the New England Medical Center's Rehabilitation Center discontinued its inpatient services in 1989, Tufts' department relocated its base to the New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where it now conducts the majority of its inpatient rehabilitation teaching activities. The deparment's other sites for training and instruction include the Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Greenery Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, the West Roxbury Veterans Administration Medical Center, the New England Rehabilitation Hospital, the Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Today the department's curriculum includes correlative sessions for first- and second-year students, who are also required to serve part of a four-week rotation in rehabilitation medicine during their senior year.
The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine has received numerous honors that testify to its position of national leadership in physical medicine and rehabilitation. It has also been awarded some of the first funds of the new NIH Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research. Faculty member Dr. Ryner M. Bloch has been appointed as a grant peer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration; Marilyn Lash, M.S.W., has been named president of the National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers; and Dr. Harry C. Webster is currently serving as president of the New England Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Source: COE, 156-58.