Happy 75th, AAOS!

By: Carolyn Rogers

By Carolyn Rogers

“Embracing the past, branching into the future”
The Academy marked its 75th birthday on Jan. 12, but the celebration begins in earnest today—the opening day of the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

To honor this milestone, the Academy made a commitment to document the “golden era of orthopaedics” and to provide a lasting archive for the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons, nurses, patients, and industry professionals. Members of the 75th Anniversary Project Team, the Annual Meeting Committee, and many others have worked diligently to ensure that this anniversary celebration will be one for the record books—literally.

The untold story
Most of the scientific, technologic, and economic forces that propelled orthopaedics to its preeminent position in medicine took place during the past century. Until now, however, this “golden era of orthopaedics” had never been critically researched or analyzed in a scholarly fashion. The Academy leadership felt it was imperative to capture and preserve as much of this history as possible for future generations.

The resultant 75th Anniversary Project is an ambitious, member-driven effort to collect information, photos, artifacts, interviews, and existing historical documentation to give a real face to the field of orthopaedics.

Collecting history
The first step in the archival process was to create a content collection Web site that could be used to store and manage key historical and anecdotal information. The Academy solicited physicians, patients, state and specialty societies, orthopaedic nurses, and industry representatives to submit their stories, thoughts on orthopaedic history, accounts of seminal events or people, historical artifacts, and photos to the Web site. The project team even disseminated a “Question of the Week” via AAOS Headline News to request specific information, gauge opinions, and encourage dialogue on the site’s discussion threads—the heart of the Web site.

Since their inception, both the content collection site and the Digital Timeline—an application designed to capture and display user-generated content—have been heavily used. Thousands of stories, artifacts, photos, and “nuggets of knowledge” flowed in while the project team culled historical material, review submissions, and filter entries. Thanks to this collaborative effort, the Academy is now able to share the story of orthopaedics through a fascinating series of multimedia projects.

Travel the Digital Timeline
The Digital Timeline—comprised of a series of multi-layered, interactive, online digital timelines—dramatically illustrates the history of orthopaedic specialty. It takes you on an interactive, historical adventure where you can view more than 1,500 events that have taken place over the history of orthopaedics.

The Digital Timeline debuts in San Francisco on eight 56-inch plasma screens positioned end-to-end, spanning 40 feet at Moscone Center North. Stop by and use video-game-like controllers to swing through the decades of orthopaedic history. The Digital Timeline can also be viewed at

Enjoy the eMotion Pictures art show
The incredibly popular eMotion Pictures art exhibition, created by orthopaedists and their patients, has been reprised in honor of the Academy’s 75th Anniversary. Stroll through the exhibit in Moscone West and admire more than 200 artworks that sometimes humorously, sometimes poignantly, portray orthopaedics as perceived by patients and physicians, and what it has meant in their lives.

Take in an historical film
Premiering at the Annual Meeting, the historical film “Moving Stories” reflects on the past 75 years of orthopaedic innovation and development by researchers, surgeons, industry and happenstance. The story is conveyed largely though the personal stories of orthopaedic surgeons and their patients. The film was produced by the same team who made the powerful documentary “Wounded in Action”—part of the Academy’s award-winning “Legacy of Heroes” project.

Flip through commemorative coffee table books
Rich with images, personal stories, and timelines noting significant events in the history of orthopaedics, the coffee table book Moving Stories: Seventy-five Years of Orthopaedic Surgery commemorates the Academy’s Diamond Jubilee.

The historical reference book, Getting it Straight: A History of American Orthopaedics, documents the development of the specialty and medical advances in areas such as fracture care, manipulation, and surgery. Written by Henry H. Sherk, MD, the book also provides a history of the AAOS and other orthopaedic societies.

Check out Moving Stories, the exhibit
This traveling exhibit unfolds the history of orthopaedics, tackling major subjects such as Academy history, the war years, polio, scoliosis, joint replacement, and many others. Following the Annual Meeting, a portion of the exhibit will be available for display at state society meetings, residency training programs, and to universities and clinics around the country.

Behold the Academy Chronicles
This stunning, three-dimensional exhibit—created from actual and miniaturized pieces of Academy history—will take your breath away. The elaborate 5-foot by 7.5-foot display debuts today in Moscone North. Following the meeting, the piece will be moved to the lobby of AAOS headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., where it will permanently showcase important historical artifacts and other significant findings of 75th anniversary projects.