McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Rehabilitation pioneer dies

Published: March 19, 2008
John Basmajian
John Basmajian

John Basmajian, a professor of medicine with an international reputation in the development of rehabilitation science and a mentor of its scientists, has died.

"On behalf of everyone in the School of Rehabilitation Science, our deepest sympathies go to the Basmajian family," said Mary Law, associate dean of the School of Rehabilitation Science. "The School and McMaster University have been immensely strengthened by the experience, research knowledge, education and counsel of Dr. Basmajian."

Born in Brantford, Basmajian became a physician and worked as a professor for the University of Toronto, followed by stints at Queen’s University and Emory University before coming to Hamilton in 1977 as a professor and director of Hamilton Health Sciences Rehabilitation at its Chedoke site.

He was world-renowned for his pioneering work in electromyography and his use of biofeedback, a technique now widely used and recognized as an effective clinical tool. He was the prolific author or editor of 66 books, including classic texts for anatomy and therapeutic exercise, as well as 400 scientific articles and films.

He was also known as an excellent teacher and mentor to physiotherapists and other rehabilitation practitioners. After he became a professor emeritus in 1986 he remained actively involved in the School of Rehabilitation Science. He was made a lifetime member of the school as a professional associate in recognition for his outstanding contributions and he, in turn, has offered a regular travel award.

"Perhaps he will be best remembered for his remarkable skills as a human anatomist, often mesmerizing medical and allied health students with his meticulous chalk drawings, and as an electromyographer, whose many studies helped to shed light on human muscle function," said Law.

Basmajian received many honours for his work, including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and honorary degrees from Queens and McMaster. He was honoured by the Faculty of Health Sciences as a member of its Community of Distinction in 2003.

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