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Remembering the Father of Modern Craig

August 16, 2018

Whether it be the economy, the suburbs or the “baby boom”, the word “boom” is a word often used to describe the 1950’s in the United States. For Craig Hospital, the 1950’s marked its biggest transformation as a hospital and was primarily led by Medical Director John S. Young.

Dr. Young was born in Syracuse, Nebraska in 1919. He received his bachelor of science degree in 1949 from Louisiana State University and his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1953. He later served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1957 where he reached the rank of Major, having received a bronze star and five battle stars. Following his time in the Army, Dr. Young moved to Colorado to become the Medical Director of Craig Hospital for the next eleven years.

Dr. Young’s time at Craig began at a critical juncture when the facility was deciding what type of medicine to specialize in. Originally, Craig began as a treatment colony for those who were suffering from tuberculosis. However, by the early 1950’s the development of vaccines to treat and prevent tuberculosis decreased the demand for treatment.

With Dr. Young’s arrival and forward thinking, Craig paved the way for its new focus on spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation. He established radical tenets which included:

  • Casual but professional working environment (no uniforms)
  • Single physician management system (“one riot, one ranger”)
  • Interdisciplinary team approach (physician, nurse, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, clinical care manager, therapeutic recreation, etc.)

These trailblazing tenets created by Dr. Young have been significant in the success of many patients at Craig and are still used to this day. His influence also expanded outside of the hospital with major efforts working with insurance companies and sharing the importance of rehabilitation. Dr. Young was influential in not only saving lives, but helping create more productive and meaningful lives during a time that had many physical and social barriers for the disabled community. 

Dr. Young’s time at Craig ended in 1968 for health-related issues. However, his work in the spinal cord injuryfield continued as he became a founding member and President of ASIA (American Spinal Injury Association). In 1988 he was honored as the first recipient of the ASIA Lifetime Achievement Award, shortly before passing in August of 1994.

His knowledge, contagious enthusiasm and pioneering methods for treating spinal cord and brain injury make  and why we remember the Father of Modern Craig.

Dr. Young’s legacy live on today and we continue to remember him as the Father of Modern Craig for his knowledge, contagious enthusiasm and a pioneer for spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation.