HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FRACTURE ASSOCIATION

Photo of a fractured leg boneThe American Fracture Association was founded to create an interest and further the study of the various types of fracture therapy. Its primary object is to bring together annually, interested surgeons and other physicians to dis­cuss fractures and their associated problems and by these discussions assist in training all physicians, who are interested in the treatment of fractures.

The American Fracture Association had its inception in 1938 when a group of practicing surgeons assembled in Macomb, 111., to discuss methods of treating fractures that would allow early ambulation.

The early meeting in Macomb discussed the external skeletal fixation methods that had been used considerably during World War II. Wet clinics were held in Bloomington, 111., by Dr. Herman Wellmering in 1940 and 1941. Due to the enthusiasm of the many Orthopaedic and General Surgeons that attended these meetings, the Ambulatory Fracture Association was formed. The primary founding organizers wer Doctors Homer D. Junkin, A.H. Diehr, H.W. Wellmering and William Johnson.

The group addressed forms of fracture management and in 1952, under the Presidency of Henry W. Meyerding, the name of the organization was changed to The American Fracture Association.

The enthusiastic efforts and contributions from many members has been responsible for the success and growth of the organization. Outstanding contributions have been made by Dr. H.W. Wellmerling, Dr. Custis Lee Hall, Dr. Roger Anderson, Dr. William Johnson, Dr. Henry W. Meyerding, Dr. Irvin Scott and Dr. Duncan McKeever.

Dr. McKeever had given outstanding leadership until his untimely death. In 1950, Dr. Scott was the President and arranged for the first annual meeting of any U.S. medical group outside of the country. The meeting was held in Mexico City. In 1966 the annual meeting was held in Caracas, Venezuela, and in 1971 the meeting was in Guadalajara, Mexico. Both of the Mexico meetings were arranged by Dr. Guillermo de Velasco Polo, an enthusiastic member. The meetings were not only most rewarding from a scientific standpoint but served to provide a better relationship with our Latin-Ameri­can colleagues and common interests. The growth of understading, friendship and cooperation by Orthopaedists in the Latin American countries and Canada has been most gratifying.

The Research Fund was established in 1961 and this fund has not only grown in dollars but has served to support many worthwhile projects, such as, the ASTM Committee F-4 on Surgical Implants. In 1964 an instructional seminar was financed by this fund under the leadership of Dr. Elias Kaiser at the request of the Michigan Academy of General Practice. This activity was held in Detroit. The Association hopes to further this program of instruc­tional courses in the future.Dr. Robert Elliott assumed the Presidency following the death of Dr. Kaiser. A sizable contribution was made to the newly built Crippled Child­ren’s Clinic in Montgomery, Alamba, as a Memorium to Dr. Elias Kaiser.

President, Robert Elliott, was a most active leader and highly respected by everyone who worked with him. His leadership in ASTM Committee F-4 has given A.F.A. important recognition. He organized a post convention tour, following the meeting in New York City in 1970, to visit outstanding orthopaedic centers in the British Isles. This was the first time an organiza­tion of surgeons from the U.S. had made such a tour. This tour was a great success and it followed a most outstanding meeting that was chairmaned by Dr. Arthur Michele. This was a banner year from the standpoint of education and we also gained some good friends in theBritish Isles.

Later post convention trips were made to visit Russe and Muller and Boehler in Middle Eurpoe and another to Orthopaedic centers in Italy.

In May, 1978, visits to orthopaedic centers in Scandanavian countries were made.

A major contribution to orthopaedic education has been the annual Meyerding Awards. Residents in approved programs are encouraged to sub­mit original papers which are judged by a committee of American Fracture Association members.

The Association was originally limited to 500 members. One year ago this was changed to allow for 500 members from the United States in addition to the Canadian and Latin American Members. The spirit of informality and friendliness has prevailed for many years and it is hped that this can continue along with the scientific objectives of the organization. The primary purpose is to further the evaluation of fracture treatment methods and the allied trauma problems. The informal exchange of ideas, comparison of results and the educational programs have been rewarding to many active members.

In 1976 the Association was a contributing member to the First Pan American Orthopaedic Conference held in Acapulco, Mexico.

IN MEMORY OF

Herman W. Wellmerling, M.D. Bloomington, Illinois

“MISTER AMERICAN FRACTURE ASSOCIATION”

Photo of H.W. Wellmerling, M.D.In 1980 the Wellmerling Award was begun. This award is given annually to a member of the Association who presents a paper at the annual meet­ing. This award was established in memory of the late H.W. Wellmerling, M.D.

:  Dr. Wellmerling died on July 26, 1979

Dr. Wellmerling was one of five children bom to German parents in Bloomington, Illinois. German was spoken almost entirely in their home, which was a great advantage to Dr. Wellmerling in later years in practicing medicine in a German community, as well as to his train­ing in Europe and his extensive travels on that continent.

Dr. Wellmerling had undergraduate work at the Illinois Wesleyan University and was graduated with an M.D. degree from the Washing­ton University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri in 1920. He served an internship and residency in surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

He joined the Sloan Clinic in Bloomington, Illinois in 1922 and until 1976 was still associated there with Dr. Wilbur Ball with whom he was in practice for 20 years. He tells many interesting and funny stories about his early years of general practice. One I remember his telling was that of him being called in the night into the country to see a farmer who had a coronary occlusion. It was in the spring of the year when the roads were so muddy they were almost impassable but Dr. Wellmerling made it to the farm house in his high wheel Model A Ford coupe, only to find on arrival that the patient was dead.

On notifying the undertaker, he was informed by the undertaker that it would be impossible for him to get the body, due to the con­dition of the roads, and asked the doctor if he could bring the body to town. On arrival at the funeral home, the undertaker came out and looked in the trunk of the Model A and asked, “Where is the body?” Dr. Wellmerling replied, “Oh, he is sitting here in the front seat with me,” which he really was.

The In 1930, Dr. Wellmerling became interested in Urology and in 1933 did postgraduate work at the Mayo Clinic. After this time, his surgery was chiefly urology and trauma, mostly fractures. On two occasions, he studied in Vienna with Dr. Lorenz Bohler and later, Dr. and Mrs. Bohler visited Dr. Wellmerling in Bloomington. He also had post­graduate work in Budapest and Berlin. He was studying in Vienna in 1936 and 1937 and recalls the changes there when Hitler was coming into power.

Dr. Wellmerling was one of the early advocates of the treatment of fractures by skeletal pinning and external fixation and in 1938 began to have wet clinics in Bloomington, which were extremely interesting and informative, and were attended by doctors from many different states. In 1938, with the assistance of four other doctors, he founded The Ambulatory Fracture Association, now known as The American Frac­ture Association, which has grown and at present has members, not only in the United States, but in Canada, Mexico, all Latin American countries, and most South American countries.

Dr. Wellmerling was married to Miss Freda Wolleschlogel in 1922 and to them was born one son, Jack, now of Columbus, Ohio. Many years after the death of his first wife, he was married to Mrs. Catherine Hoose, known to most of us as Katie.

In April of 1970, Dr. Wellmerling completed 50 years in the practice of medicine. He was honored by the Illinois State Medical Society and was presented with a certificate and a pin for his achievement. He did not completely retire from practice until June 1, 1976.

Dr. Wellmerling, over the years, has contributed many improve­ments in the treatment of various fractures. He was the first to describe the low insertion of the long 5″ Smith Petersen nail for treatment of femoral neck fractures.

The original work was published in Industrial Medicine, October, 1944 and since, has been used very successfully by many orthopedic surgeons.

Since the founding of The American Fracture Association in 1938, as Secretary-General, Dr. Wellmerling has served the organization unselfishly and without regard to his own time. I know, personally, in several instances had it not been for his advice and guidance, the asso­ciation 1977 annual meeting was dedicated to Dr. Wellmerling in appreciation for his founding, persistent work and continued interest in the American Fracture Assocation.

by Irvin H. Scott, M.D. — Sullivan, Indiana

 

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