Charles A. Rockwood, Jr., M.D., FAOA, of UT Health San Antonio has been honored by the American Orthopaedic Association as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for his tremendous contributions to orthopaedic surgery. The effort to recognize Dr. Rockwood was led by Bernard F. Morrey, M.D., FAOA, with the generous support of many colleagues, friends and the Alamo Orthopaedic Society, which includes several of Dr. Rockwood’s former residents.
“I commend the AOA for establishing the AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession Program, and I can think of no one more deserving to be in the first group of giants so honored than Charley Rockwood,” Dr. Morrey said. “Not only did he establish a premier orthopaedic program and thereby touch the lives of numerous trainees, but his classic textbook, Rockwood and Green’s Fractures in Adults, has benefited orthopaedic surgeons worldwide.”
Dr. Rockwood graduated from the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine in 1956 and completed his orthopaedic residency at the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Oklahoma and affiliated hospitals in 1961. He came to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (now called UT Health San Antonio) in 1966 as founder of what would become the Department of Orthopaedics. In 1967, he participated in the AOA American-British-Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellowship program and often speaks of the strong impact this experience had on his career.
Over the years, Dr. Rockwood focused his private practice to the study and treatment of shoulder problems. He worked diligently to develop a shoulder arthroplasty system and a post-operative home-based exercise rehabilitation program for the shoulder. In addition, he has led his team of investigators in developing the fracture prosthesis specifically designed to treat fractures of the shoulder, as well as the conservative anatomical prosthesis and the cuff tear arthropathy head.
Dr. Rockwood has authored numerous journal articles and audiovisual presentations and has served as editor of several textbooks, including seven editions of the three-volume text, Fractures (with David P. Green, M.D.) and four editions of the two-volume text, The Shoulder (with Frederick A. Matsen III, M.D.). He served as president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in 1984-85 and president of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons in 1985-87. He also served as a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve, and as a civilian national consultant to the surgeon general of the U.S. Air Force.
In 2016, Dr. Rockwood, professor and chairman emeritus, Department of Orthopaedics, and director of the Shoulder Service, celebrated 50 years of service to UT Health San Antonio. In his private practice, he continued to perform complex shoulder surgery and, as a consultant, shared his expertise with other orthopaedic surgeons throughout the country.
Dr. Rockwood made a generous commitment in 2018 in the amount of $150,000 to the AOA, with $125,000 in support of the AOA’s ABC Traveling Fellowship in recognition of his passion for the program.
“Charley was masterful in establishing effective working relationships with other orthopaedic leaders, and by example he taught many the importance of that skill,” Dr. Morrey said. “On a personal level, Charley is beloved by all and has been one of the most recognized ambassadors of U.S. orthopaedic surgery. He is and has truly been a pillar of our specialty.”
The AOA acknowledges Dr. Rockwood’s legacy and congratulates him on being recognized as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession. He was honored during the AOA Annual Leadership Meetings in San Diego on June 28, 2019. The short video that was shown at the meeting is available here.
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