Suzanne Groah, MD, Director of Spinal Cord Injury Research and Patient Care Programs, Receives 2018 Goldschmidt Award | MedStar Health

Suzanne Groah, MD, Director of Spinal Cord Injury Research and Patient Care Programs, Receives 2018 Goldschmidt Award

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Dr Suzanne Groah sits at her desk and poses for a photo.

WASHINGTONDr Suzanne Groah poses for a photo in a hallway at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital., D.C., – July 6, 2018 – Suzanne Groah, MD, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network medical director of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) program, and head of the SCI research program, received the 2018 Goldschmidt Award on Wed. June 6, 2018.

In addition to receiving this honor, Dr. Groah also gave the annual Goldschmidt Lecture, the 30th time this has taken place at MedStar NRH. This prestigious honor is named after Dr. John Goldschmidt, the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s founding medical director, who worked towards enhancing an interdisciplinary approach to patient care. Recipients of this award, like Dr. Groah, are motivated to positively influence both fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Dr. Groah’s lecture focused on the fascinating history of spinal cord injury. She examined the oldest spinal cord injury text – which described SCI as an “ailment not to be treated.” Taking us on a journey through SCI history, Dr. Groah showed us everything from how the Paralympic Games evolved to the movement in the 1970s and 1980s to find a cure for SCI – via medication.

In fact, in the late 1970s, the very first clinical trial looking at recovery from SCI took place to test a combination of medications and physical therapy. “This provided an opportunity to lead us toward recovery and cure,” she said.

As the decades turned, public faces of SCI began to emerge – actor Christopher Reeve, one of the most notable spinal cord injury survivors who became a quadriplegic when thrown from a horse during a Virginia equestrian competition; and football players, among them former Detroit Lions star offensive lineman Mike Utley, injured during a 1991 game. Utley is a 1993 Victory Award® recipient.
These public faces, Dr. Groah says, raised the profile of the disease and perhaps paved the way to get us to where we are now.

“We began to move away from drugs being the potential cure for SCI to patients working through therapy and newer, emerging technology,” she said.

Dr. Groah says that the future of spinal cord injury research offers tremendous hope and new possibilities. She highlighted various new research breakthroughs including scaffolds placed around the spinal cord during decompression surgery and optogenetics using light on cells in animals right now with respiratory issues that could be used in the future for those with SCI.

In addition, Dr. Groah mentioned Networked Neural Prosthesis technology, which can help via a stimulator device allowing patients to use their hands in more ways. “SCI patients might be able to use their hands in ways they never knew, such as using a pen and paper or eating food while holding utensils,” she said. “All of this holds great promise in the years to come.”

Dr. Groah’s chief takeaway when reflecting on her own career: Exude confidence even if you are not quite sure what you are doing. “I tell residents, future physicians, researchers and anyone the same things – if you’re going to react, use restraint before you react; if you see an opportunity grab it; and develop and keep relationships with your mentors so you can pay it forward.”

With a career in research that spans many years, Dr. Groah has done that for herself while mentoring many along the way.

The Goldschmidt Award and Lecture is a prestigious honor at MedStar NRH. It serves to recognize the years and effort devoted by MedStar NRH’s founding medical director, John W. Goldschmidt, who worked towards enhancing an interdisciplinary team approach to patient care. The recipients of the award are those who are motivated to positively influence both fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
This award should be given to an individual who reflects the attributes of Dr. John W. Goldschmidt in terms of voluntary and tireless efforts, enhancement of interdisciplinary multi-specialty team development and approach to patient care, the advancement of facility to care for individuals with physical disabilities as well as intellectual, emotional and academic commitment to the precepts and the intimate intricacies of rehabilitation as a specialty field. Each of these actions must also be performed to the highest professional and ethical standards which emulate the man for which this award has been named.

Past Awardees Include:
2018 - Suzanne Groah, MD
2017 - Randall L. Braddom, MD, MS, FAAPMR
2016 - Barbara Bregman, PT, PhD
2015 - Paul F. Pasquina, MD
2014 - Alexander Dromerick, MD
2013 - Bruce Gans, MD
2012 - Kristjian T. Ragnarsson, MD
2011 - John N. Aseff, MD
2010 - Brendan Conroy, MD
2009 - Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA

About MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

The MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is a regional system of rehabilitation care that offers inpatient, day treatment and outpatient services in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.
The Network’s interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation experts provides comprehensive services to help people recover as fully as possible following illness and injury. Rehabilitation medicine specialists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists work hand-in-hand with other rehab professionals to design treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Rehabilitation plans feature a team approach and include the use of state-of-the-art technology and advanced medical treatment based on the latest rehabilitation research.

The Network provides comprehensive programs specifically designed to aid in the rehabilitation of adults and children recovering from neurologic and orthopaedic conditions such as amputation, arthritis, back and neck pain, brain injury, cancer, cardiac conditions, concussion, fibromyalgia, foot and ankle disorders, hand and upper extremity problems, post-polio syndrome, stroke, spinal cord injury and disease, and sports and work-related injuries.

Inpatient and day treatment programs are provided at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital located in Northwest Washington, D.C., and at more than 50 outpatient sites conveniently located throughout the region. MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is fully accredited by The Joint Commission, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), with CARF accredited specialty programs for Amputations, Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke.

For more on MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and to find a location near you, log on to

For Immediate Release:
Media Contact

Derek Berry

Director of Communications


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