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John Stanley Coulter Award ACRM Award

John Stanley Coulter Award




John Stanley Coulter Award recipient Deborah Backus - image


ACRM is pleased to honor Deborah Backus, PT, PHD, FACRM, with the 2023 John Stanley Coulter Award. Dr. Backus will present the award plenary, The Patient, Clinician & Other Insightful Partners: Working Together to Move Rehabilitation Medicine Forward on 1 November during the ACRM 2023 Annual Conference.



To be named the Coulter Lecturer is to be recognized as one whose professional achievements have contributed significantly to the field of rehabilitation, as did Dr. John Stanley Coulter. After his death on December 16, 1949, the Board of Governors of the American Congress of Physical Medicine, as the ACRM was named at that time, established a fund to provide for a series of Coulter Lectures “as an expression of devotion to their departed colleague and leader.” Since 1951, the John Stanley Coulter Lecture has been a highlight of every annual meeting of the ACRM.

The first Lecture was presented at the organization’s 29th Annual Session in Denver on September 5, 1951. Given in the form of a eulogy to Dr. Coulter by Kristian G. Hansson, MD, the lecture provided a quick sketch of the man many in the field regard as “the father of physical medicine and rehabilitation.”

“All human enterprises have leaders and so has medicine,” Dr. Hansson said in his eulogy. “Physical medicine was fortunate to have such a leader in Dr. Coulter. He proved his leadership in many ways, as a soldier, as an author and editor, as a physician, and as a friend to those who sought his advice.”

Serving in the US Army from 1911 to 1920, Dr. Coulter was sent to France during the first World War, where he took charge of the first overseas convalescent and rehabilitation center. There he first became associated with physical and occupational therapy.

He was assistant editor of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Acta Americana, contributing more than 50 articles on physical medicine and rehabilitation for medical journals.

Dr. Coulter specialized in PM&R and introduced the practice of PT and OT in the treatment of industrial workers disabled by accidents and disease. He helped to establish the AMA Council on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and was its chairman from 1942 to 1949. Always striving to improve the training of physical therapy technicians, he was instrumental in forming the American Registry of Physical Therapy Technicians.



The ACRM Program Committee nominates candidates for the John Stanley Coulter Award.  Award recipients present the prestigious John Stanley Coulter Lecture during the ACRM Annual Conference, Progress in Rehabilitation Research.


Award Recipients


November 2022, Chicago
Ross Zafonte, DO
The Placebo and Nocebo Effect in Rehabilitation Research and Care

September 2021, VIRTUAL
Claudia Kawas, MD
The 90+ Study: What did we Learn & What Happens When we all Live to 130 Years Old?

October 2020, VIRTUAL
Angela Colantonio, PhD, OT Reg (Ont)
Addressing Inequities: Empowering People Experiencing Disabilities

November 2019, Chicago
Christine M. MacDonell, FACRM
An Around the World Perspective: Moving the Needle on Rehabilitation Medicine and Research

October 2018, Dallas
Mark S. Nash, PhD, FACSM
Disparities of Cardiometabolic Risk Assessment and Intervention After SCI: At the Fork in the Road?

28 October 2017, Atlanta
James H. Rimmer, PhD
Pathway from Acute Rehabilitation to Lifelong Health and Wellness for People with Disabilities

4 November 2016, Chicago
Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, MPH
Moving from Dissemination to Implementation

29 October 2015, Dallas
Michael Boninger, MD
Neuroprosthetics to Wheelchairs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Assistive Technology

11 October 2014, Toronto
V. Reggie Edgerton, PhD
Improvements in Motor Function After SCI  With Neuromodulation is Highly Dependent on Activity-Dependent Mechanisms

16 November 2013, Orlando
Allen Heinemann, PhD, FACRM
Measuring, Managing, and Predicting Rehabilitation Outcomes: Reflections on Nearly 30 Years of ACRM Membership and a Research Agenda

13 October 2012, Vancouver
Susan Harkema, PhD
Neuromodulation of Spinal Circuitry for Recovery after Neurologic Injury

15 October 2011, Atlanta
Keith Cicerone, PhD, ABPP, FACRM

October 2010, Montreal
Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Fulfilling the Promise: Supporting Participation in Daily Life

October 2009, Denver
Robert “Bobby” Silverstein, BS, JD
The Anatomy of Change: The Need for Effective Disability Change Agents

October 18, 2008, Toronto
Ruth Brannon, MSPH, MA
Rehabilitation Research: Blueprint for the Future

October 6, 2007, Washington DC
John Whyte, MD, PhD, FACRM
A Grand Unified Theory of Rehabilitation (We Wish!)

September 30, 2006, Boston
Martin Grabois, MD, FACRM
Through the Looking Glass: A Personal View of Health Care Reform in Rehabilitation Medicine

October 1, 2005, Chicago
Denise Tate, PhD, ABPP, FACRM
The State of Rehabilitation Research: Art or Science?

September 11, 2004, Ponte Vedra Beach
Leonard Diller, PhD, ABPP/ABCN
Pushing the Frames of Reference in Cognitive Rehabilitation

October 25, 2003, Tucson
Joel A. DeLisa, MD, MS
Shaping the Future of Medical Rehabilitation Research: Using the Interdisciplinary Research Model

October 5, 2002, Philadelphia
Paul Bach-Y-Rita, MD
Brain Plasticity as a Basis for Late Neurologic Rehabilitation

October 27, 2001, Tucson
Lex Frieden, MA
Listening for Footsteps (Rehabilitation and Independent Living)

October 21, 2000, Hilton Head
Lauro S. Halstead, MD
The Power of Compassion and Caring in Rehabilitation Healing

October 16, 1999, Orlando
Margaret A. Nosek, PhD
Overcoming the Odds: The Health of Women With Physical Disabilities in the US

November 8, 1998, Seattle
John F. Ditunno, Jr., MD
Predicting Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury: A Rehabilitation Imperative

September 13, 1997, Boston
Florence P. Kendall, PT
Sister Elizabeth Kenny Revisited. (This address was published in the Archives, but illness prevented Mrs. Kendall from presenting her address in Boston.) GerbenDeJong, PhD substituted as the Coulter Luncheon speaker on “The Growth Maturation, and Consolidation of the Medical Rehabilitation Industry and Their Implications for ACRM’s Research Mission.”

October 15, 1996, Chicago
Robert G. Frank, PhD
Lessons from the Great Battle: Health Care Reform, 1992-1994

June 25, 1995, Arlington
Richard Bruno, PhD
PostpolioSequelae and the Paradigms of the 50s: Newtie, Ozzie, and Harriet Versus Paradigms of Caring and a Future for Rehabilitation in America

June 11, 1994, Minneapolis
Gale G. Whiteneck, PhD
Measuring What Matters: Key Rehabilitation Outcomes

June 25, 1993, Denver
Gerben DeJong, PhD
Health Care Reform and Disability: Affirming Our Commitment to Community

November 15, 1992, San Francisco
Jean Cole Spencer, PhD, OTR
The Usefulness of Qualitive Methods in Rehabilitation: Issues of Meaning, of Context, and of Change

October 29, 1991, Washington DC
Mark L. Rosenberg, MD
Injury Control: Meeting the Challenge

October 23, 1990, Phoenix
Carolyn L. Vash, PhD
New Venues, New Allies, New Ways

John Stanley Coulter Awardees 2009 – 1951