- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Homer H. Stryker

Born  1894
Died  1980

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American orthopaedic surgeon, born November 4, 1894, Athens, Michigan; died 1980.

Biography of Homer H. Stryker

Homer H. Stryker was born November 4, 1894, near the Calhoun County farming community of Athens in south-western Michigan. As a young man he taught in the country schools, then served in France as an infantryman. He subsequently studied medicine, graduating M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1925. He set up a general practice in Alma, but in 1928 he returned to Kalamazoo to serve as the county physician.

Beginning in 1935, he spent three years of additional study in Ann Arbor developing his orthopaedic skills. While there, he began his workshop tinkering, and came up with a practical rubber heel for walking casts, as well as a primitive model of the revolutionary Stryker turning frame for moving patients bed-ridden by spinal injuries so as to prevent bedsores and promote healing.

In 1939 he set up an orthopaedic practice in the Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he used a workshop in the hospital's basement to invent new orthopaedic products. Here he invented the turning frame in 1941, and that year he formed a company called Orthopedic Frames Company. In 1945 he invented the cast cutter, first of many more powered instruments to come. By 1959, Stryker had 12 patents on medical devices.

His son, Lee Stryker, became president of the company in 1955. For the next 20 years father and son built a sales and marketing presence around the world and continued a stream of innovative and practical new products such as the first medical pulsed irrigation system and the first flume evacuator for bone cement.

In 1964 the Orthopedic Frames Company officially changed its name to the Stryker Corporation, with headquarters in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Public trading in Stryker Corporation began in 1977 on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. From July 1, 1997, the company's stock has been traded on the New York Stock Exchange

In 1996 the Stryker Short Foundation was established, funding grants to not-for-profit organizations for youth, the environment and the arts, largely in Larimer County. During its first six years the foundation awarded over $6,000,000 in grants. On Wednesday, April 24, 2002, at the Lincoln Center, Fort Collins philanthropist Pat Stryker, the daughter of Lee Stryker who was killed in a plane crash at the age of 45 in 1976, announced the launching of the Bohemian Foundation and the subsequent retirement of the Stryker Short Foundation. The foundation is named after the Bohemian movement in Paris in the early 1900's. According to Pat Stryker, The Bohemian Foundation plans to emulate the creativity, imagination and spirit the Bohemians were known for.

Thanks to a $2.25 million donation by the Stryker family, what was Sutherland Field, home of the Kalamazoo Kings, was recently renamed Homer Stryker Field.

The Stryker Orthopaedic Trauma Lectureship and the Homer H. Stryker Pathology Lectureship, University of Michigan Medical School, are also named in his honour.

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