2018 Lifetime Achievement Award: James A. Leonard, Jr., MD
The Lifetime Achievement Award is AANEM’s highest honor, and for 2018, AANEM is proud to announce James A. Leonard, Jr., MD, as its recipient. This award recognizes an AANEM member who has been a major contributor in the fields of neuromuscular and electrodiagnostic medicine through teaching, research, and scholarly publications.
“Following this summer experience, my intent was still to be a pediatrician. However, as I went through clinical rotations in my third and fourth years, I began working with patients who had considerable rehabilitation needs. I found that many of my medical colleagues did not see these needs or were not concerned about their patients’ needs in this area,” Dr. Leonard recalled.
That is when he began to see PMR as an attractive field of medicine.
“What I liked most was the fact that I would be able to follow my patients from cradle through adulthood to their passing from life. Ultimately, what finally convinced me to do PMR was a young 14 year old C2 ASIA spinal cord injury patient whom I was able to care for as a senior medical student. I have had the honor of working with some of the same patients now for the last 50 years -- since the early beginnings of my career as a student in the PMR department at the University of Michigan,” said Dr. Leonard.
Upon completion of Dr. Leonard’s PMR training at UM, he entered active duty in the Army. He had the opportunity to work with amputees while he served in active duty for 3 years.
“The amputee population I worked with on active duty were two groups: the younger ones included the Vietnam era active duty and veteran soldiers; the older ones were military retirees some of whom were World War II and Korean War veterans. Others were retirees who needed amputations due to complications from diabetes or vascular disease,” he explained.
“Our goal for those with limb loss is to be able to provide each individual with the tools they need or want to resume their lives in a manner that allows them to achieve their goals and dreams. Sometime we succeed and sometimes we don’t, but we continue to try.”
Dr. Leonard says that the military population with limb loss has the same fears, apprehension, hopes, and dreams about their future as civilian amputees.
“All amputees seem to experience a camaraderie because of their limb loss. The difference was the special camaraderie the young soldiers shared from nature of their injuries to their rehabilitation. I think this was due to common experiences of combat and their acute medical care inpatient rehabilitation often done as a group where they supported and encouraged each other. This is different than the typical rehabilitation program for civilian amputees which is most often done in a non-group outpatient setting.”
Dr. Leonard served in the military reserves for 17 years after active duty. His work rehabilitating military and civilian patients with amputations has earned him the reputation as one of the foremost authorities on the subject. He has coedited texts, written multiple works, given hundreds of lectures, presented at board review conferences, and participated in research. He has received multiple teaching awards from UM and has been the recipient of the Distinguished Clinician Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR).