The third annual Santa Clara Valley Brain Injury Conference: Building on the Legacy of Coma to Community was held Feb. 28 through March 2 at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion in San José, Calif.
This year, the lifetime achievement award was given to local physical therapist and educator Dr. Ron Peterson, program director of the physical therapist assisting program at South University in Royal Palm Beach.
Requests for nominations went out nationally to more than 50,000 individuals, and the nominations were rated by a panel of four individuals, representing clinical, community and research interests.
In introducing Peterson, Dr. Jeffrey Englander, for whom the Lifetime Achievement Award is named, noted that Peterson had more than 40 years of experience as a physical therapist.
Peterson has treated brain-injured patients in England, Belfast, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Louisiana and Florida. As an officer in the British Army, Peterson had the opportunity to impact the lives of an international patient population, adding to the body of learning and expertise of neurological impairments.
In accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, Peterson said he was honored and humbled to be chosen from among such a distinguished lineup of nominees, including physicians, researchers, psychologists and therapists.
Peterson reflected upon his past experiences with brain-injured patients, both civilian and military, while working at the Joint Services Medical Rehabilitation Unit at Chessington, England; in Belfast, Northern Ireland; and at the Neurological Rehabilitation Department at King’s College Hospital in London. He also had the privilege of working with two of the world’s leading luminaries in neurological rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation medicine while living in London — Dr. Bertha Bobath and Dr. James Cyriax.
As the program director of the physical therapist assisting program at South University, Peterson said that he impresses upon his students the importance of neurological rehabilitation and, in particular, the value of working with the brain-injured population. Peterson is certified in the neurologic developmental treatment of adult hemiplegia, in manual therapy and other areas of physical therapy. As an educator, he is a former principal of the School of Physical Therapy at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He has a doctorate in physical therapy from Boston University and is a board-certified geriatric clinical specialist.
The conference is the updated continuation of the Coma to Community Conference hosted by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center from 1977 through 1995. The conference had an audience of over 500 rehabilitation professionals.
Continuing with his professional activities, Peterson attended an item writing workshop in Alexandria, Va., in March at the offices of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. He is now an item writer for the National Physical Therapy Examinations.
Last August, Peterson received an award from the government of Trinidad and Tobago for his contribution to education in commemoration of that country’s 50th anniversary of independence. The award was presented at a gala reception in Fort Lauderdale during Trinidad and Tobago’s independence celebration by His Excellency, Dr. Neil Parsan, Trinidad and Tobago’s ambassador to the United States.
Peterson is the founder and president of Peterson Rehabilitation, an outpatient rehabilitation facility located on Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. The facility has been serving Palm Beach County for the past 15 years.
Peterson is a member of the Wellington Rotary Club, a past Rotary assistant governor, a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and a prolific speaker on healthcare topics. He is a published author of two books and currently lives in Royal Palm Beach.
Above: Dr. Jeffrey Englander, RPB’s Dr. Ron Peterson and researchers Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner (conference chair:) and Jerry Wright.