Department History

Orthopaedics has been part of the University of Michigan's rich medical tradition since 1873, when U-M faculty housing was converted into the University's first hospital. Over the years, the department has expanded, evolved and embodied the latest technological and scientific advancements.

One of the reasons for the department's longevity and success is its faculty. Here is a look at some of the physicians responsible for creating the U-M Orthopaedic Surgery legacy:

  • Charles L. Washburne, M.D. A 1908 graduate of U-M Medical School, Dr. Washburne became an Orthopaedic Surgery instructor in 1911 and became assistant professor in 1918. He left U-M for World War I and, upon returning from war, eventually became chief of staff at St. Joseph Hospital. Washburne's most notable publications explored club foot, polio, tuberculosis joints and deformities of lower extremities.
  • Leroy C. Abbott, M.D. When Hugh Cabot came to U-M from Harvard in 1920 to serve as dean, he brought young, talented orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Leroy Abbott with him. Dr. Abbott stayed at U-M until 1926 when he accepted the position of chief of orthopaedics at Shriners Hospital in St. Louis. In 1930, he headed west to assume the role of chief of orthopaedics at University of California, San Francisco. Abbott was president of the American Orthopaedic Association in 1947 and is best known for his work in leg lengthening.
  • Vernon Hart, M.D. Dr. Hart shared his expertise with U-M patients and students from 1930 - 1933 before leaving to become chairman of orthopaedics at the University of Minnesota. Hart's most notable publication was a monograph on congenital dislocation of the hip.
  • Luis Yglesias, M.D.Dr. Yglesias pioneered radical neck surgery. Upon returning to Cuba, he served as Secretary of Health for Batista. When that government fell, he returned to Michigan and practiced at William Beaumont Hospital.
  • Paul C. Williams, M.D. Dr. Williams is widely recognized for his developments in the realm of back pain exercises. He established the William flexion exercises, which were very important in the management of back pain.
  • Donald E. King, M.D. After working at Michigan, Dr. King eventually became chairman of orthopaedics at Stanford University.
  • Sir Herbert J. Seddon, M.D.Sir Seddon was the father of hand surgery in England, and was noted for his work on nerve repair and regeneration. He also served as president of the British Orthopaedic Association.
  • Norman Capener, M.D. Mr. Capener developed a surgical treatment for TB of the spine. He also took a turn as president of the British Orthopaedic Association.
  • Carl Badgley, M.D. A U-M Medical School graduate, Dr. Badgley served as section head of Orthopaedics from 1933 - 1964. In addition, he served as president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1942.
  • Ruth Moyer Waring, M.D.
    In 1945, Dr. Waring became the first female orthopaedic resident at U-M. She was the third female orthopaedic surgeon to be admitted to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  • William S. Smith, M.D. Dr. Smith was section head from 1963 - 1985. He served as chief of orthopaedics at Ohio State University for four years and received a Kappa Delta Award for his work on CDH and acetabular development puppies.
  • Robert W. Bailey, M.D.
    Dr. Bailey served the department from 1960 - 1985. He focused on cervical spine problems and was a founding member of the Cervical Spine Society. He is credited with performing the world's first anterior spinal fusion.
  • Gerald A. O'Connor, M.D.
    Dr. O'Connor was a team orthopaedist for 32 years. He developed MedSport at Domino's Farms in 1983, and is famous for not missing a U-M home game until 2003. In addition to his contributions at U-M, O'Connor was president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in the year 1982 - 1983.
  • Dean S. Louis, M.D. Dr. Louis completed his residency at U-M before heading to New York as the Carroll Hand Fellow at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. In 1971, he returned to Michigan - this time to join the U-M faculty. During his 30 years at Michigan, he specialized in children's hand problems and served as president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Today, he is professor emeritus, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
  • Larry Matthews, M.D. An American Orthopaedic Association Traveling Fellow, Dr. Matthews served as U-M section head from 1986 -1995. During that time, he developed the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory. Today, he is professor emeritus, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
  • Robert N. Hensinger M.D. Dr. Hensinger has been a pediatric orthopaedist at Michigan for more than 30 years. He was department section head from 1995 - 2001, and chairman from 2001 - 2003. In addition, he served as president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, and Scoliosis Research Society. Today, he is a professor specializing in pediatric orthopaedic surgery

  • James E. Carpenter, M.D. Dr. Carpenter is the department chair, serving in this capacity since 2003. He is the Harold W. and Helen L. Gehring Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and also serves as head orthopedist for U-M Athletics. His clinical interests include knee and shoulder injuries, arthroscopy, and sports medicine.