Spinal cord injury (SCI) medicine emerged after World War II due to mass casualties, which required specialized treatment centers. This approach to categorical care, however, was first developed during World War I, led by pioneers R. Tait McKenzie and George Deaver, who demonstrated that soldiers disabled by paralysis could return to society through fitness/mobility, recreational and vocational training. McKenzie, a Canadian and the first professor of physical therapy in the US, influenced Deaver and military physicians in Britain, Canada, and the U.S. with his achievements and publications. Although early mortality from SCI was high, advances in the treatment of skin and bladder complications coupled with rehabilitation developed through lessons learned in World War I, resulted in major changes in survival and quality of life for veterans of World War II in England, US, and Canada. Harry Botterell and Al Jousse, founders of Lyndhurst Lodge, the first SCI center in Canada, adopted Deaver's principles and techniques of rehabilitation and Donald Munro's approach to medical complications. The consequences of failing to organize continuity of care in World War I were recognized both by consumers and physicians. Together with John Counsell, a World War II veteran, they formed the Canadian Paraplegic Association, which "revolutionized" the care of veterans with SCI, as well as civilians, women, and children.
Recommended CitationDitunno, Jr, John F., "Linking spinal cord injury rehabilitation between the World Wars: The R. Tait McKenzie legacy." (2017). Department of Rehabilitation Medicine Faculty Papers. Paper 47.