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Today MedStar NRH

A MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Publication

Winter 2013

Super H 5K! Supports Adaptive Sports >> Page 10

McLean Virginia Outpatient Center Opens >>Page 6 Also inside: Pets Enhance Patient Care >> Page 3 Better Outcomes for Joint Replacement >> Page 4

NASA-developed AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill速 is used in most MedStar NRH outpatient centers to help advance therapy more quickly and achieve better results.

New Center Unlocks Mystery of Brain Plasticity >> Page 11

Knowledge and Compassion

Focused on You


President’s Message

Celebrating Our Volunteer Family The MedStar NRH family recently lost two loyal supporters. Long-time members of our Board of Associates, Patricia Skantze and Ruth Donaldson, died recently. We mourn their passing, and celebrate their lives. Both Pat and Ruth spent many years as volunteers for MedStar NRH giving their time and expertise to help raise funds, grow our team of volunteers and donors, and increase awareness of the MedStar NRH Network and its important mission within the community we serve. Pat helped found the Associates Board and served John D. Rockwood, President, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network; Senior Vice President, MedStar Health

as the Board’s president. She and her husband retired Gen. Lawrence Skantze, who survives her, also became grateful parents after their son was a patient at MedStar NRH following a serious car accident. Ruth helped us reach out to the international community in D.C. and was our goodwill ambassador. [To learn more about Pat

“Volunteers are essential to the success of MedStar NRH. But they are more than assets; they are beloved members of our family.”

and Ruth, turn to page 9.] The Board of Associates has nurtured a cadre of advocates since chartered in 1990. While it may have been fashioned after the idea of a “women’s auxiliary,” from the onset the Associates Board was different. The members, both men and women, have always been members of the Washington region’s professional community, as well as volunteers. Some have ultimately become members of the MedStar NRH Board of Directors. The Board of Associates has helped raise significant awareness of MedStar NRH in the community, and cultivated new supporters for the hospital through special events, such as our signature Gala Victory Awards®, and Las Vegas Night, which we will celebrate again this April. Among other activities, Board members visit patients and host monthly celebrations at the hospital to commemorate Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, to name a few. The Board of Associates is part of our broader volunteer program, which also includes our community volunteers who provide invaluable administrative support to the hospital. Our community volunteers are often former patients who want to give back in a meaningful way. They do everything from answering telephones to greeting visitors at the front desk.


MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

The Junior League of Washington, D.C., is one of our most important volunteer partners. Now in its 20th year, the Junior League Placement at MedStar NRH is the League’s only hospital-based placement. Every Wednesday evening, League volunteers play Bingo with patients and their families. They host the annual patient holiday party, and also sponsor a book cart. League activities are designed to provide entertainment as well as promote literacy, a key focus of the Junior League. The League has also been a great resource for MedStar NRH, and many members of the hospital placement have gone on to become members and leaders of our Board of Associates or serve on our Board of Directors. Volunteers are essential to the success of MedStar NRH. But they are more than assets; they are beloved members of our family. Many of them spend years working on the Network’s behalf and form strong bonds with our staff and patients. So, while we grieve for the loss of both Pat Skantze and Ruth Donaldson, we are grateful for all they did for us and for the wonderful times we spent together. If you’d like to give your time and talent to MedStar NRH, please contact our Volunteer Office at 202-877-1782 or visit

Adding Life to Years® — Helping You Live a Full and Healthy Life

Going to the Dogs...and Cats

Cats, dogs, guinea pigs and goldfish: Humans form strong bonds with their pet companions and we’ve been sharing our lives with animals for centuries. Today there are more than 78 million pet dogs in the U.S., and nearly 87 million pet cats, according to Humane Society of the United States. We often consider our animal-buddies part of the family. Our pets can also provide an added benefit to our lives beyond friendship. They can help improve our emotional, social and physical health, as well.

Calming Influence Research has shown that people with pets experience less loneliness and depression, and have high self-esteem. Interacting with a pet can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost the immune system. “There has been a good deal of research conducted about the human-animal bond,” says Rene Wallis, executive director of People Animals Love (PAL). PAL of D.C., is a 30-year-old non-profit organization that oversees a number of community initiatives, including a Pet Visit Program, in which volunteers and their dogs make visits to hospitals and longterm care facilities across the region. Today clinicians are incorporating Animal Assisted Therapy into treatment plans to help achieve physical, social, cognitive, and emotional goals with patients. Animals and their handlers are helping to improve recovery of veterans returning from the Middle East with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and to improve mobility for patients who have had a stroke or other brain injury. “This is the highest level use of animals in therapeutic settings, and the dogs are highly trained,” Wallis explains. “PAL is involved in Animal Assisted Activities, which is focused on the concept that animals can bring hope and well-being to people who are isolated in hospitals or other care settings.”

Canine Visitor Days At MedStar NRH, the value of animals to recovery is visible on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. That’s when PAL volunteers and their dogs visit patients.

“I have repeatedly seen the joy that adults and children feel when animals come to visit,” says Joan Joyce, coordinator of therapeutic recreation at MedStar NRH. “Patients unwind, relax and connect with the animals in ways they may not with other people. Moods turn on a dime, as they pet and cuddle with a dog or cat.” Adrienne Wojciechowski, PAL group leader for MedStar NRH, brings her dog Buddy to the hospital for the twice-a-month visits. “Buddy is a Jack Russell mix,” she says. “At home, he may be overactive and excitable. But when we put on his PAL vest, he knows he is on the job and calms down. “I’ve seen Buddy be the conversation starter that opens people up to interaction,” Wojciechowski says. “Pets can be the neutral intermediary between patients and other people.”

Among the canine visitors is Fitzy, MedStar NRH Board Member Jerry Fitzgerald’s beloved Havenese. “Getting involved with PAL has been a great way to get to know patients at the hospital,” Fitzgerald says. “And it’s lovely to see how the patients and dogs react to one another.” “At MedStar NRH we also allow patients to visit with their own pets in the hospital’s Victory Garden,” Joyce adds. “We know that a separation of weeks or even months can be devastating to pet owners. It’s just one more way we try to improve the patient experience. “Rehabilitation is all about getting back to normal and for many of us a pet is part of our normal day-to-day lives.” To learn more about MedStar NRH Recreation Therapy, visit MedStarNRH. org. To learn more about PAL, visit

Love Actually “Dogs love unconditionally. And who doesn’t want to be around someone who is always happy to see them,” Wallis explains. “The interactions can also become therapeutic,” says Joyce. ”Simply reaching toward the dog, throwing a ball for the dog to chase, or petting and brushing the dog can help patients improve fine motor skills and increase mobility in their hands and arms.” “I’ve seen some PAL dogs immediately move toward the arm that is mobile in a stroke patient,” Wojciechowski adds. “They are able to read cues that even we don’t see. And I have seen stroke patients who have talked very little open up and talk to one of our PAL dogs.”

Photo by Robin Burkett, PawPrints Photography

MedStar NRH Today • Winter 2013


No Pain, No Cane!

New Knee and Acute Rehab Put Patient’s Goal within Reach When she was a small child, Patricia Morrissey spent months in a pediatric hospital feeling isolated and frightened. Doctors only allowed her to write cryptic notes to her parents. “I’m fine. How are you?” she wrote. But she was far from fine: The experience was devastating.

surgeon’s opinion. “Dr. Evans said, ‘no problem,’” Morrissey remembers. In November 2012, Dr. Evans operated successfully on Morrissey. Then after several days in the hospital, he made a critical referral for inpatient rehabilitation at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, and to Robert Bunning, MD, clinical director of the orthopaedic program at MedStar NRH. “Dr. Evans told me the key for my recovery was rehab at MedStar NRH, and he was so right.”

Extra Help, Better Outcomes

Therapists Kate Ayoub and Jamie Feinstein join Pat Morrissey (center) and Dr. Robert Bunning (right) for Pat’s post-surgery follow-up

“There is a segment of joint replacement patients that truly benefits from inpatient of intensive therapy, including older people, those having double joint surgery, and those with other health problems.” — Robert Bunning, MD, Associate Medical Director, and Director, MedStar NRH Orthopaedics Born with Cerebral Palsy (CP), Morrissey endured surgery after surgery, performed in hopes of increasing her mobility. It was the mid-1950s, and Pat’s parents were trying to give their daughter the best chance. “I was in physical therapy for years,” Morrissey recalls. “But by the time I was 18, I told my mother I was leaving to live my own life, and I went off to college.” She has lived her life independently—and productively. A disability rights advocate, she helped draft the Americans with Disabilities Act, and today serves on the U.S. International Council on Disability. In her spare time, she wrote Gradual Descent, the first in a series of detective novels that include characters with physical or mental challenges! She pushed her body hard as well, with routine trips to the gym and pool. Still she shied away from doctors and


MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

therapists, memories of those early torturous years still fresh in her mind. When knee pain made it difficult to manage steps, Pat overcame her natural aversion and went to see an orthopaedic surgeon. “At first I thought I had overdone it at the gym,” she says. “But when it didn’t resolve, I knew I needed help. The surgeon conducted tests, and told me the pain was the result of bone pushing against bone in my knee. The cartilage was more or less gone, and I needed joint replacement surgery,” Morrissey says. “He also told me I wasn’t a candidate,” she adds. “I think he felt I should just give in, or give up since I have CP. He didn’t listen to me or understand what I needed.” But Brian Evans, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, listened and rebuffed the first

“An inpatient stay in an acute rehabilitation facility like MedStar NRH isn’t required for every joint replacement patient,” explains Dr. Bunning. “But there is a segment of patients that truly benefits from this type of intensive therapy, including older people, those having double joint surgery, and those with other health problems. Ms. Morrissey was a perfect candidate.” Total joint replacement is an elective procedure, but surgeons perform more than 1 million of them in the U.S. each year. “People are living longer, and hips and knee joints wear out,” Dr. Bunning says. “These men and women want to live as active a life as possible, and many make the decision to undergo the procedure.” About 10 percent of people having joint replacement surgery will have a much better outcome with acute inpatient rehabilitation immediately following surgery. “It’s the difference between three hours a week of therapy and three hours of intense therapy every day,” Dr. Bunning adds. For Morrissey, the experience was literally mind altering. Her skepticism about medicine and therapy disappeared because of the “fantastic protocol of care at MedStar NRH,” she says. “I’m really very impressed.” For 10 days, Dr. Bunning and his team of rehabilitation specialists, including Nurse Practitioner Cassandra Thompson and Physical Therapists Jaime Feinstein and Kate Ayoub, worked with Morrissey.

“Jamie and Kate were amazing. They are young, motivated and so smart. They listen and problem solve,” Morrissey adds. “I think they walk on water!”

Therapy Tailored to Individuals There is no cookie-cutter treatment regimen for joint patients like Pat Morrissey at MedStar NRH. When an x-ray indicated that her left hip was higher than the right, the therapists considered this vital detail, and designed a therapy plan tailored to her special needs. “They understood what I needed to do to shift that hip misalignment and what type of exercises I needed so I could recover from surgery. They literally taught me how to walk correctly.”

When Dr. Bunning discharged Morrissey from MedStar NRH, the hospital arranged for at-home therapy through MedStar Visiting Nurse Association. Today, she continues physical therapy on an outpatient basis, and is making steady progress. “I’ve learned a lot from this experience,” she says. “Just because I have CP doesn’t mean I have to settle for less. My muscles are very responsive to exercise. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning my regimen to get the right mix.

“I came away from my MedStar NRH hospitalization with the belief that I will one day walk without pain— and without a cane!” — Patricia Morrissey

“I came away from my MedStar NRH hospitalization with the belief that I will one day walk without pain—and without a cane!”

For Morrissey, it was equally inspiring to watch the therapists interact with her roommate. “She was an older woman who had been in a car accident and broken her pelvis,” she remembers. “The woman was very afraid to move from her bed. But Kate was so understanding and gentle. She eased the patient’s anxiety and that allowed her to begin her own recovery.”

MedStar NRH Orthopaedic Program In Brief Leadership  obert Bunning, MD, FACP, FACR, R clinical director of the Orthopaedic Program; named a “Top Doctor” for 2012 by Washingtonian magazine n Howard A. Gilmer, DO, attending physician n

Conditions We Treat n n n n n n

Joint replacement  mputation A Hip fracture surgery Cancer surgery Arthritis Multiple orthopaedic traumas

MedStar NRH Continuum of Care: PACC The PACC Program (Post Acute Care Coordination) helps ensure that patients and families are prepared for joint replacement surgery and follows patients through the entire process—from before surgery and until patients can return to their normal activities. Prior to the procedure, PACC Coordinators, social workers Nancy Powley and Dana Belongia, meet with patients scheduled for joint surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. During this initial meeting, the PACC coordinators learn what kind of support system each patient has—and what services they may need following surgery.

Coordinators help to develop a roadmap for recovery—and work hand-in-hand with case managers to make recommendations for next steps. This may include acute rehabilitation at MedStar NRH, outpatient services through the MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network, access to skilled nursing facilities, or home care through the MedStar Visiting Nurse Association. The program also offers a pre-hospitalization Joint Replacement Education Class to help patients better understand the procedure, and know what to expect during their postsurgery rehabilitation. To learn more about MedStar NRH inpatient and outpatient orthopaedic services, visit For details on the PACC program, call 202-877-1220.

MedStar NRH Today • Winter 2013


MedStar NRH Opens New Outpatient Center in McLean, VA Focus on Orthopaedic, Neurologic Services

In early February, the doors opened on MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network, McLean—the network’s latest outpatient center, and its second venture into Northern Virginia. It joins MedStar NRH’s Ballston, Virginia, outpatient facility and brings the suburban community “one-stop shopping” for orthopaedic and neurologic rehabilitation services, as well as specialty physician services delivered in partnership with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “Our outpatient therapy centers now number almost 30, and we’re delighted to bring our services to the vibrant community of McLean,” says John Brickley, vice president for Ambulatory Care Services and Network Development.

“We recognized that there has been a gap in rehab and specialty medical services in the McLean community,” Brickley explains. “We worked closely with MedStar Health and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to design a center that would provide a continuum of care, and include the services of rehabilitation experts, orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists, neurosurgeons and radiologists.

“The McLean center represents the growing trend in health care to bring high quality services close to people’s home or workplace,” Brickley says. “The opening of the McLean site is a continuation of our strategy for the future of the network to meet a broad spectrum of needs of our community. We want to increase access to our nationally recognized rehabilitation experts throughout the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region.”

Renowned Specialists Close to Home The new center features the full-array of orthopaedic, musculoskeletal and neurologic rehabilitation. Its multidisciplinary staff includes one of Washingtonian magazine’s “Top Doctors,” MedStar NRH Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physician Kathleen Fink, MD. Dr. Fink works in tandem with a team of highly experienced physical and occupational therapists, and speechlanguage pathologists.

At the McLean center’s Runner’s Clinic, therapists use dual camera video gait analysis to assess running problems.


MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

“But this is more than just a therapy site,” Brickley says. “It also offers diagnostic radiology services and a team of orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and neurologists from MedStar Georgetown. Patients can obtain everything they may need from diagnosis and specialty physician services to rehabilitation—all in one location.” The center also provides the special expertise of the MedStar NRH Sports Medicine program, which focuses on early intervention after injury for active adults, and both amateur and professional athletes, as well as the development of training regimens to promote safe performance and prevent re-injury. A unique Runner’s Clinic at the McLean center offers dual camera video gait analysis to assess running gait abnormalities, and incorporates the NASA-developed AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill®, an Olympic-level injury prevention tool used in training programs for amateur and competitive runners. Therapists also utilize the AlterG to help patients with lower extremity problems— ranging from stress fractures to joint replacement—advance their therapy more quickly and achieve better results.

“We are not only treating sports injuries, we plan to work with local high schools and community organizations to promote sports injury prevention for children and adults,” says Laura Nemets, MPT, OCS, center director. “We want to help people maximize their performance, safely. We’re athletes ourselves,” says Nemets, a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine and orthopaedic rehab.

Brain Injury, Stroke Services The clinic’s neurologic rehabilitation services are part of MedStar NRH’s comprehensive stroke, brain injury and spinal cord injury programs, which are among the country’s most prestigious and advanced. Board-certified neurologists and physiatrists coordinate a plan of care that puts an emphasis on helping patients reach their highest level of functioning. Therapy focuses on restoring a patient’s communication skills, cognitive abilities, physical strength—and independence in their everyday life.

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill® helps athletes and patients with lower extremity problems safely advance their therapy.

“Ultimately, we hope to expand services offered at the McLean center to include other specialty physician services, such as oncologists, and to bring cancer rehabilitation to the neighborhood, as well,” Brickley adds.

In addition, the McLean center offers the highly specialized services of MedStar NRH’s unique Concussion Clinic, which provides assessment and treatment for people who suffer from the lingering—and often life altering—effects of concussion.

MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network, McLean 6858 Old Dominion Drive, Suite 200, McLean, VA 22101 n Telephone: 703-288-8260 n Fax: 703-288-9316 Hours: Mon.—Thurs. 7 am — 7 pm, and Fri. 7 am — 5 pm n Free parking available.

Programs & Services Offered n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n

 CL Injury Prevention Program A Arthritis Program Brain Injury Program Concussion Services Diagnostic Radiology Services Falls Prevention Program Foot and Ankle Services Foot Orthotics Evaluation & Casting Gait Analysis General Orthopaedics Hand and Upper Extremity Program with Certified Hand Therapists Occupational Therapy Manual Therapy Physical Therapy Repetitive Motion Disorder Services Running Clinic Speech-Language Pathology

 pinal Cord Injury & Disease S Sports Medicine Program n Spine Services n Stroke Recovery n Vestibular/Balance Rehabilitation n n

McLean Center Staff  athleen Fink, MD–Board certified in K physical medicine and rehabilitation, and pain management. Dr. Fink specializes in pain, musculoskeletal/sports medicine, fluoroscopic spine injection techniques, occupational medicine (including Independent Medical Evaluations) and performing arts medicine. n Laura Nemets, PT, MPT, OCS, Regional Director—Specializes in sports medicine, orthopaedics, foot and ankle, and orthotics customization. n

 erry O’Keefe, PT, DPT, Clinic K Coordinator –Specializes in general orthopaedics, sports medicine, running assessments, ACL injury prevention, and concussions. n Leslie Slutz, OTR/L, CHT, Occupational Therapist—Specializes in treating conditions and injuries of the hand and upper extremity from physical or neurological trauma. n Suzanne Redmond, SLP— Specializes in the treatment of adult speech, language, swallowing, cognitivecommunication and voice disorders. n

MedStar NRH Today • Winter 2013


News Updates from the MedStar NRH Network In Memoriam Patricia A. Skantze, a long-time friend of MedStar NRH and one of the early officers of the MedStar NRH Board of Associates, died Friday, December 15, 2012, at her McLean, Virginia, home surrounded by her loving family. Pat was a devoted supporter of MedStar NRH. She joined the Board of Associates in 1990 and held a variety of leadership positions over the years, serving as president of the Associates Board in 1994. She twice chaired MedStar NRH’s Gala Victory Awards®, contributed to every Gala Committee, and chaired the International Committee of the Board of Associates for the last 12 years. In recognition of her hard work, the Board of Directors honored Pat with the Community Award in 2006. A fashion model, actor and dancer by profession, Pat was very active in a number of area charities and was a patron of the arts. Washington, D.C., society affectionately called her the “Hat Lady” because of Pat’s collection of wondrous hats. “She loved hats,” recalls Robert Hartmann, vice president for Marketing and Strategic Development, and a close friend. “She had an entire room in her home dedicated to her hat collection, and she got many a hat designer to donate hats to benefit the hospital.” In 1998, her son Larry sustained serious injuries in a car accident in Tennessee. When he was medically stable, Pat and her husband, retired Gen. Lawrence Skantze, transferred him to MedStar NRH for his care, and the couple became more than great supporters— they became grateful parents. “Pat and her husband exemplify the essence of true philanthropy,” says Hartmann. “We will greatly miss Pat’s presence and leadership and our thoughts are with Gen. Skantze and all of Pat’s family and friends at this time.”

Robert Hartmann, VP for Marketing & Strategic Development, with friend and Board of Associates Member Patricia Skantze, affectionately known as the “Hat Lady.”

8 MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

Sen. Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran who represented Hawaii in the Senate for five decades, died December 17, 2012 at age 88. Sen. Inouye was a 1989 recipient of the MedStar NRH Victory Award®. He epitomized the spirit of the award by demonstrating courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. Sen. Inouye enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During his service, the Senator lost an arm charging machine gun nests in San Terenzo, Italy, an event that earned him the Medal of Honor. He won his ninth consecutive Senate term in 2010 and was the second-longest-serving senator in the chamber’s history, trailing only Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Inouye was a senator for all but three of Hawaii’s 53 years as a state and had previously served as its first House member. Senators of both parties took to the chamber floor following his death to mourn him and President Barack Obama described Inouye as “a true American hero.” Ruth H. Donaldson, a long-time volunteer and steadfast supporter of MedStar NRH, died in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2013. Beloved wife of the late John C.L. Donaldson, and beloved mother of Glenn H. Donaldson and Gregg J. Donaldson, Ruth was one of nine children from Landrum, South Carolina. After a rewarding career working for three Chiefs of Protocol in the U.S. State Department, she raised a family and was active in a number of charitable organizations, including the Capitol Speakers’ Club, Friends of Pakistan Club, and the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary. She joined the MedStar NRH Board of Associates in 1992, served as co-chair of its International Committee, and was a faithful supporter of important MedStar NRH events for decades. “Ruth worked vigorously for MedStar NRH, and was an important fixture at all our events for many years,” says John Rockwood, president. “Her leadership helped us shape this organization – and she enthusiastically brought new members of our community to the MedStar NRH family,” he says.

Alexander Dromerick, MD, Named VP for Research MedStar National Rehabilitation Network has named Alexander W. Dromerick, MD, as its first vice president for research and chief research officer. Dr. Dromerick previously served as associate medical director for Research and Academic Affiliations, and is also co-director of the newly formed Center for the Study of Brain Plasticity and Recovery, a partnership between MedStar NRH and Georgetown University Medical Center. [Learn more about the center on page 11 of this issue of MedStar NRH Today.] Dr. Dromerick, a board-certified neurologist with fellowship training in neuro-rehabilitation, came

to MedStar NRH from Washington University in St. Louis, where he co-directed the institution’s Stroke Center and served as an associate professor of neurology and occupational therapy. An internationally recognized neurosciences researcher, he has focused on recovery from stroke and the rehabilitation of persons with stroke. He is the principal investigator for a number of industry and NIH-funded rehabilitation trials, and is the author of numerous peer-reviewed papers, abstracts and reviews.

New MedStar NRH Medical Staff Justin Burton, MD, joins the MedStar NRH team as co-director of inpatient pediatric rehabilitation for the National Center for Children’s Rehabilitation at MedStar NRH. Dr. Burton completed a fellowship in pediatric rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and his residency in physical medicine & rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Marilyn F. Kraus, MD, joins the MedStar NRH team as director of the brain injury fellowship program, attending physician and member of the research staff. Dr. Kraus is a neuropsychiatrist who has specialized in the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injury for more than 20 years. A graduate of Tulane School of Medicine, Dr. Krause completed her residency training at Tulane, and fellowships at both Baylor School of Medicine and Johns

Hopkins University. Prior to her appointment to the medical staff, Dr. Kraus was medical director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Consult team of the inpatient acute trauma service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Camilo M. Castillo, MD, is now an attending physician in the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Program working with patients admitted to the hospital’s inpatient SCI unit. Prior to joining MedStar NRH, Dr. Castillo worked with Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, where he completed his residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, as well as a fellowship in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. Dr. Castillo has also been involved in more than 35 clinical and pharmaceutical research studies, received several awards related to his SCI research, and co-authored and published manuscripts in peer review journals, as well as book chapters.

Arthur De Luigi, DO, Recognized Arthur Jason De Luigi, DO, director of Sports Medicine at MedStar NRH, was the recipient of the Outstanding Council Service Award in Musculoskeletal Medicine at the 2012 American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) annual meeting. The award recognizes the service and volunteerism of AAPM&R members. Dr. De Luigi is board certified in physical medicine & rehabilitation, sports medicine, and pain medicine. He is an internationally recognized leader in adaptive sports, is medical director and head team physician for the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team, and was medical director of adaptive sports at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Dr. De Luigi twice served in military deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Battalion Surgeon.

Dr. De Luigi receives his award from Dr. Kurtis M. Hoppe, 2013 Academy President-Elect. Photo courtesy of AAPM&R

MedStar NRH Today • Winter 2013


“Super H” 5K Supports Adaptive Sports Program Hundreds of people lined the three-plus mile route in McLean, Virginia, to cheer on more than 200 runners, walkers, “wheelers,” hand cyclists, and bikers for the ninth annual Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel on Sunday, September 23, 2012. Friends and family of Harry “Super H” Freedman first organized the race in 2004 to honor Freedman, who lost a leg in a workplace accident. Freedman, an avid athlete, wanted to help ensure that people with physical challenges have access to sports activities and the chance to live active lives after a disabling injury or illness. He and his wife Renie continue to support the race, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. Last year’s race raised nearly $40,000 to benefit the adaptive sports programs for children and adults with physical disabilities at MedStar NRH, which is a proud partner of U.S. Paralympics and BlazeSports America.

MedStar NRH offers children and adults with physical challenges free weekly seasonal team sports in wheelchair basketball and tennis, quad rugby, power soccer and sled hockey. Donations help MedStar NRH provide athletes with free specialized equipment, including sports wheelchairs, and cover travel and accommodation expenses for competitions. Through its adaptive sports program—one of the largest in the U.S.— MedStar NRH also offers educational clinics in wheelchair sports at local schools, organizations and hospitals. For full race results, visit and search for “Super H.”

Thank You to Our Sponsors n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n

 merican Physical Therapy A Association Chicken Out Darren Star Foundation District Amputee Care Center, LLC The Hartford International Launch Services Montgomery Scrap Corporation Nascott The Olender Foundation Progressions Salon Spa Store Stein Sperling Bennett De Jong Driscoll PC Streetsense The Orthotic Prosthetic Center, Inc. Tri-Union Express, Inc. Volkswagen Washington Express, LLC Harry Gildenhorn Karl Sonneman Eugene Sussman Harry and Renie Freedman

Photos courtesy of Susan J. Clark.

10 MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

An innovative collaboration is connecting basic, clinical and translational research to accelerate the exploration of brain plasticity—the human brain’s amazing capacity to heal itself.

The new Center for the Study of Brain Plasticity and Recovery is a partnership between MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). It brings together GUMC’s highly regarded basic neuroscience research initiatives and MedStar NRH’s strong clinical and translational stroke rehabilitation research. “We believe the center will spark relationships between scientists and a more integrated approach to research,” says Edward Healton, MD, chair of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s departments of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine. “And it will serve as a platform for research that has the potential to help us make a huge leap in our understanding of how the brain recovers after injury.”

Neuroplasticity and Brain Development “We’ve known for some time that the brain isn’t hardwired,” says Alexander Dromerick, MD, co-director of the new center and vice president of MedStar NRH Research. “The brain is plastic and malleable. It has some ability to create new pathways for communication between nerves and it can even rearrange existing ones throughout life. That capacity is called neuroplasticity. “We have also learned that what happens in the brain during recovery from injury, such as a stroke, is much like the brain as it develops in the womb and infancy. As we grow older, the mechanism becomes dormant. Research will help us discover how to turn this back on later in life so it can help the brain heal after damage,” he adds. The center will focus its research agenda on stroke. The MedStar NRH clinical stroke program is among the nation’s largest—treating more than 600 patients each year. “What we learn about recovery in stroke can be applied to patients with any type of brain injury, such as spinal

cord injury, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy,” Dr. Dromerick adds. “Today stroke rehabilitation often includes a method called constraint induced movement therapy,” Dr. Healton explains. “Through this technique, we’re forcing the affected limb to perform a task through repetition. Our research has shown us that through this repetition of movement, other parts of the brain take over the role of the damaged area. That shows us that the brain has plasticity.”

TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, is an important tool in helping unravel the mystery of brain plasticity.

“What we learn about recovery in stroke can be applied to patients with any type of brain injury, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.”

“Our hope is that through — Alexander Dromerick, MD, co-director, Center for our new research Brain Plasticity and Recovery collaboration with GUMC, we can identify more sophisticated strategies to The center has already established boost neuroplasticity,” Dr. Dromerick adds. this critical cross communication. Peter “I think it’s plausible that one day stroke Turkeltaub, MD, PhD, assistant professor recovery will include multiple strategies, of neurology at Georgetown University, such as combining drug intervention that is conducting research at MedStar NRH jump-starts neuroplasticity with intensive focused on the development of new training,” he says. treatments for language disorders. In

Encouraging Cross Talk Elissa L. Newport, PhD, professor at GUMC, serves as director for the center. Her groundbreaking research in speech development and MedStar NRH’s motor recovery research are perfect compliments to one another. The center will be fertile ground for important “cross talk” between scientists, Dr. Dromerick adds. “There have been barriers to communication between basic, clinical and translational researchers. But when we establish communication as a priority, the gap between the laboratory and the patient experience can be bridged.”

addition, GUMC’s Ted Supalla, PhD, renowned for his research on the development of sign language, is working in collaboration with MedStar NRH researchers to study ways to improve methods to recover speech after stroke. “Our vision for the center is to create a fertile environment for research with the potential to improve recovery for patients who have suffered stroke. But we know what we do will have an impact on future treatment of other brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Healton says. “The potential is enormous.”

MedStar NRH Today • Winter 2013


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102 Irving Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20010-2949 202.877.4674

Electronic Service Requested James V. Reyes, Chairman, Board of Directors John D. Rockwood, President Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, President and CEO, MedStar Health MedStar NRH Today is produced by Marketing & Strategic Development Robert S. Hartmann, Vice President Emily R. Turk, Writer-Editor If you no longer wish to receive information from MedStar NRH, please contact us in writing at the above address.

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MedStar NRH is accredited by: CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities The Joint Commision

MedStar NRH is a Not-for-Profit Hospital. Please Remember us in Your Will.

Save the Dates Friday, April 19, 2013—Las Vegas Night What:  Enjoy an evening inside the world of Las Vegas, with gaming tables featuring Roulette, Black Jack, craps, poker and more! MedStar NRH will dedicate the evening to the late Pat Skantze, long time Board of Associates member and friend of MedStar NRH, who died last year. The event will also include a silent auction and raffle as well as great food and music, all benefiting programs and services for MedStar NRH patients and the disability community. Where:

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Sunday, September 22, 2013—The 10th Anniversary Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel What:  The 10th annual 5K race welcomes everyone to run, walk, bike, hand cycle or wheel to raise funds to benefit the adaptive sports programs for children and adults with physical disabilities at MedStar NRH, which is a proud partner of U.S. Paralympics and BlazeSports America. MedStar NRH has one of the nation’s largest adaptive sports program and offers children and adults with physical challenges free weekly seasonal team sports in wheelchair basketball and tennis, quad rugby, power soccer and sled hockey. Where:

Sport & Health at Tysons Corner

To learn more or for reservations: Contact Leslie Concha at 202-877-1781 or

MedStar NRH Today - Winter 2013  
MedStar NRH Today - Winter 2013  

MedStar NRH Today - Winter 2013