A brief history of Walter's contribution to establishing the field of anaplastology as a clinical speciality within the modern healthcare system
A true testament of the American dream and the metrics of success was the founder of Anaplastology himself, and to whom we accredit our foundation, Walter Spohn. Born in Reutlingen, Germany, Spohn immigrated to the US in 1928. Prior to being drafted in 1941, Walter was a baker. He wanted to go to dental school but was then chosen for the new “eye” program at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. Due to the scarcity of glass during the war, the program’s job was to develop new methods to fabricate artificial eyes from methyl methacrylate. At the end of WWII, he worked at several Veterans Hospitals making many types of prostheses and assistive devices before receiving his permanent assignment to the Veterans Hospital in San Francisco, CA.
Frustrated with the lack of coordination of treatment plans for soldiers with injuries requiring multiple and different prostheses, Spohn saw a need to create a specialty that combined all types of prosthetic treatment modalities. His desire to better the field led him to create the medical term and speciality that embodied the creation of prostheses – from head to toe, Anaplastology.
After retiring from the VA in 1970, Spohn started the first school of anaplastology at Foothill Jr. College at Stanford Medical Center in San Francisco. Here he trained 15 graduates in 10 years before retiring, again.
Though his work was not complete. He took his talents elsewhere to train and assist others outside of the U.S spending time in Mexico and setting up an anaplastology program at the King Faisal Hospital in Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s. Spohn stayed active professionally up to the age of 84 when he retired once and for all to play grandpa. He died on 24 January, 2003 at the age of 88.
His desire to better the field led him to create the medical term and speciality that embodied the creation of prostheses – from head to toe, Anaplastology.
Spohn was a pioneer in his field and an entrepreneur. He saw a need for change and his compassion coupled with determination to advocate for patients. He initiated changes within the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration and developed the field of Anaplastology as we know it today. As technologies and patient needs evolve, it is important for us to recall Walter's devotion to addressing the need for change when it is needed. Open-mindedness toward our approaches to treatment will allow anaplastologists to best serve today's patients and those in the future.
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