Celebrate International Orthopaedic Nurses Day on October 30!


    The History of International Orthopaedic Nurses Day
    Each year on October 30, orthopaedic nurses everywhere celebrate International Orthopaedic Nurses Day. The tradition began in the United States’ Senate with a proclamation presented by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) in 1990 to then-President George H. W. Bush.

    Congressional Record Senate
    Proceedings and Debates of the 101st Congress, Second Session
    Friday, October 19, 1990 


    "Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to an important skill in our medical community in honor of “Orthopaedic Nurses Day," Oct. 30, 1990.

    Musculoskeletal disease is a major health problem that affects all ages. Conditions such as congenital diseases of infants, trauma resulting from vehicular accidents and degenerative diseases of the aged, strike 23 million Americans.

    Orthopaedic nurses play a vital role in providing professional, competent care to patients with musculoskeletal diseases. They offer the specialty of orthpaedic nursing in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, private homes, and physician offices.

    The National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses has responded to the ever-increasing complexity of technology in its field. Additionally, their efforts to maintain and upgrade professional standards of practice in Orthopaedic Nursing has tirelessly continued. Clearly, orthopaedic nurses in Michigan, as well as all other States in our nation, deserve the Nation’s recognition on Oct. 30, 1990, 'Orthopaedic Nurses Day.'"

    In 2001, October 30 became recognized as International Orthopaedic Nurses Day to acknowledge the impact of our nursing colleagues around the world in places such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada and Malta.

    NAON is listed in the United States Congressional Record under Citation 136 Congressional Record, S16279-01 in recognition of the work the association has done to advance the orthopaedic profession.


    The Pioneers of Orthopaedic Nursing
    Dame Agnes Hunt, from Shropshire, England, is considered by most to be the first orthopaedic nurse. Born in Baschurch, she suffered from osteomyelitis as a child, which left her disabled. Despite this, she trained as a nurse and eventually opened her own convalescent home for disabled children. After the outbreak of World War I, wounded soldiers were sent to Baschurch, and many disabled people were treated by this special orthopaedic nurse. She also worked side by side with Sir Robert Jones, an orthopaedic surgeon who gave his name to a Jones fracture of the foot and tirelessly took care of many of the crippled patients in that area of England. Dame Agnes Hunt's memorial reads: “Reared in suffering thou shalt know how to solace others’ woe. The reward of pain doth lie in the gift of sympathy.”

    Nicholas Andry was a professor of medicine and dean of the faculty of physics at the University of Paris. In 1741, at the age of 81, he published a book called Orthopaedia: or the Art of Correcting and Preventing Deformities in Children. In this book, he presents the word “orthopaedic,” which derives from the Greek words for “straight” and “child.” His interest in postural defects has led to the famous illustration that has become the symbol of orthopaedics: the Tree of Andry.

    Percival Pott was from London and worked in St. Barthomew’s Hospital, where he received the diploma of the Barber-Surgeon’s company in 1763. He was the first to thoroughly describe a specific type of ankle fracture, which is now known as a Pott’s fracture. In 1756, he experienced a fracture of his own: an oblique open fracture of the lower third of his tibia, acquired after falling from his horse. He refused to be moved until he had purchased a door to be carried on, as he believed that the jolting of his carriage would have exacerbated the injury. Immediate amputation was usually conducted on such injuries, but at the last moment amputation was stopped and the limb was saved. His most famous written work is on paraplegia associated with spinal tuberculosis, where, he stressed, the condition was not related to spinal cord compression but associated with disorders of the lungs.

    Giovanni Battista Monteggia was a Milanese pathologist who acquired syphilis by cutting himself while performing an autopsy. He later became a surgeon and professor in Milan. He is remembered for his description in 1814 of the fracturethat bears his name – Monteggia’s fracture (proximal ulna fracture with radial head dislocation).

    Abraham Colles was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, of humble origins. He became a professor of surgery at the College of Surgeons in Dublin at the age of 29. He was the first surgeon to tie the subclavian artery, but he is best remembered for his description of Colles’ fracture in 1814 (distal radius fracture).

    James Syme was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He introduced conservative alternatives to the major amputations that were being done at the time. In 1831, he released a booklet detailing cases where joint excision could be used instead of amputation for grossly diseased and/or injured joints (such as in tuberculosis). In 1841, Syme described a distal amputation at the ankle. This amputation bears his name, as it replaced a portion of below-knee amputation, which was standard practice at that time.

    John Rhea Barton was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He studied under Philip Syng Physick, the “Father of American Surgery” at the Pennsylvania Hospital. It was said that Barton was ambidextrous and that once he had positioned himself in the OR, he did not move. In 1826, he performed a subtrochanteric osteotomy of the femur for a severe flexion-adduction deformity of the hip. He is best known for his innovative corrective osteotomies for ankylosed joints.

    Antonius Mathysen was a Dutch military surgeon. In 1851, he invented the Plaster of Paris bandage, which was to become so important to orthopaedic practice. To this day, a Plaster of Paris cast is used frequently to immobilize fractures.

    Sir James Paget was a graduate of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. In 1877, he gave the first description of what he called “osteitis deformans,” now commonly called Paget’s disease. He described the increased incidence of osteosarcoma, increased head size and other deformities associated with this coniditon.

    Richard Von Volkman was from Halle, Germany. He was the first in Germany to institute Lister’s antiseptic methods. In 1881, he published his famous paper on ischemic muscular paralyses and contractures, in which he attributed the cause of the contractures to direct changes in the muscles produced by arterial occlusion. These contractures are now known as Volkman’s ischemic contractures. It is interesting to note that, in addition to his important work in orthopaedics, he wrote popular poems and fairy stories and also founded a surgical journal.

    Ruth Jackson was the first woman certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the first woman admitted to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Despite her height (measuring in at a diminutive 4’10”), she assured herself a very large place in history by being the first woman orthopaedic surgeon. During her 57 years of active orthopaedic practice, she published the Cervical Syndrome based on her experience in treating more than 15,000 patients with neck injuries as well as numerous publications in medical journals. She was chief of the orthopaedic service at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, and established the first orthopaedic residency at the hospital. The Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society was founded in 1983 as a support and networking group for the growing number of women orthopaedic surgeons.

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