- Sterling Bunnell, MD (1882-1957), a general surgeon with an overwhelming interest in hand surgery, is the founder of the ASSH.
- In 1943, Dr. Bunnell was asked by the then Surgeon General of the U.S. Army to organize several regional hand centers at Army Hospitals across the United States. Between 1944 and 1947, Dr. Bunnell visited the centers to teach the proper care of soldiers with hand injuries and to organize surgical treatment.
- Near the end of World War II, Dr. Bunnell talked about forming an organization that would continue fostering an interest in problems of the hand. Several surgeons, including Dr. Joseph H. Boyes, picked up on the idea and formed the ASSH. Thirty-five surgeons, most of who worked at the Army hospital hand centers, were designated as founding members.
- Dr. Bunnell always insisted that proper care of the upper extremity required a multidisciplinary approach.
- Since its founding, the ASSH has welcomed orthopaedic and plastic surgeons. Over the years, however, its membership has been predominantly orthopaedic surgeons.
- ASSH remained a small society for 25 years, but by the late 1960s many surgeons were interested in membership. In 1971, the society began accepting more members, and the numbers have grown since. Today, the society boasts more than 2,700 members.
- In 1987, the society’s foundation was formed. Since its founding, the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand (AFSH) has granted more than $3.8 million to support hand-related research and education.
More ASSH Historical Information
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