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Steven Brose on physical medicine and rehabilitation
Spinal cord injury physiatrist headlines Career Medical Specialties Series

By Elizabeth Boyle

Oct. 31, 2011

If you’re interested in improving quality of life, Steven Brose, D.O. (’05), told Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine students during his Friday, Oct. 21 visit, physical medicine and rehabilitation is one of the best fields to pursue. With roots in World War II and the flux of wounded veterans it created, the field is defined as medical care for people with disabilities.

“That’s a broad description,” Brose said, “but it is in fact a very broad field. It really covers everything from musculoskeletal to neurological disabilities, but they overlap each other.”

Brose, who spoke for the Career Medical Specialties Series, is a spinal cord injury physiatrist and attending physician at the Louise Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Center. Demonstrating the breadth of his field, he took attendees through a day in the life of a spinal cord rehabilitation specialist. Guiding decisions on pain management, prevention of pressure ulcers, ventilator management, and rehabilitation for areas such as gait, speech and swallowing are all in a day’s work, he said.


As a result of its multidisciplinary nature, the field requires physicians to work as a team. That’s not always easy, Brose added, but it’s important for the patient.


“The case-based training that we get here (at OU-HCOM) is really helpful,” he explained. “It’s really good training for something like rehab.”

Brose, whose own research has appeared in publications such as the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and who has served as a peer reviewer of multiple scientific journals, also gave students an overview of the field’s research opportunities and emerging technologies.

“Just as this field is broad, the opportunities for research are broad,” he concluded.  

As part of his visit, Brose also participated in the “Grand Rounds: An Adolescent with a Spinal Cord Injury,” a program held Thursday, Oct. 20, designed to expose OU-HCOM and College of Health Science and Professions students to a team-based approach to health care.


Additionally, before his Oct. 21 lecture to OU-HCOM students, Brose sat down with a member of the OU-HCOM Communication Office to share the following thoughts on his field.


When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

Toward the end of elementary school. I switched back and forth a little bit―I became interested in mathematics early in college―but I made my final decision early in college. Very early in my life I was already feeling a calling toward medicine. I found just the concept of helping people to regain wellness again to be a worthwhile pursuit.


What attracted you to physical medicine and rehabilitation?

The goal of physical medicine and rehabilitation is to maximize independence and quality of life. And that just seemed like a very worthy goal, and in addition the medical side of it is pretty broad. It deals with every organ system and is affected by many of these neurological diseases, and it affects the whole body. I found it to integrate well with the philosophies of osteopathic medicine, which teaches treating the body as a whole and looking at it in that way instead of a series of disconnected parts. That’s hammered home in physical medicine and rehabilitation because the body really is a whole and when you have a neurologic injury like a spinal cord injury, it affects the whole body. I found that to be an attractive concept.

What’s it like to work with veterans who have spinal cord injuries?Inspiring is the word I would use because they’re very strong, and they’re typically very motivated people. They really want to maximize their independence and function. And they've been through a lot of challenges in life. It's nice to be able to serve them.

What advice do you have for students who are considering physical medicine and rehabilitation?
I would encourage students to get exposure to a wide range of areas in physical medicine and rehabilitation. When I was a medical student rotating in physical medicine and rehabilitation, I thought I wanted to be musculoskeletal focused until I rotated on a spinal cord injury unit in Cleveland. I just felt like this was my calling. I got this huge impact when I saw how big a difference you could make in the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. I just felt at home there and knew that's what I wanted to do.

Why do you feel it’s important to make time for research? Contributing to ongoing advancement in the field gives you more motivation for your clinical work. Clinical work gives you more motivation for your research and teaching. They all work together, and I find that when I have a good balance of them―which was one of the reasons that I was so excited to come speak here―it gives you more inspiration for the research, more inspiration for the clinical work.

What was your most memorable OU-HCOM experience?
I had a lot of them. I would say it was going to my father’s lecture for the first time, on EKGs. (Steven Brose’s father, Jack Brose, D.O., has been OU-HCOM dean since 2001.) It was just really amazing. I'd seen him speak before, and he's an amazing speaker. It felt like kind of completing the circle to be in class while he was lecturing. It was very memorable.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016