James A. Young, MD, has been praised by patients and colleagues for the dedication, compassion and hope he brings to the care of his patients.
In recognition of his efforts on behalf of patients with disabling brain injuries, Young received the 2013 Eugene J-MA Thonar, PhD, Award, which each year honors someone who has helped further the Medical Center’s commitment to providing opportunities for people with disabilities.
Young’s work at Rush goes beyond his official duties as chairperson of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He volunteers weekly with the Rush Neurological Family Information Group, which he founded in 2002. This group of volunteer health professionals provides information and guidance to the family members of brain injury patients at Rush.
“It is an educational group,” Young explains. “Families of brain injury patients are lost, they’re overwhelmed. We help them to ask the right questions and guide them on where to turn for assistance.”
Another important part of Young’s work involves his membership in the Rush Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force, which develops and implements policies for people with disabilities. The task force also educates the Rush community about accommodating employees, students, faculty members and patients with disabilities. Young is especially proud of this group because of its focus on helping to advocate for people with disabilities.
“Americans with disabilities are a silent majority,” he says. “In a very quiet and humble way, the ADA task force protects these people and alerts the administration and the community to what their needs are.”
Young also devotes time to the Rush Advanced Trauma Training Program for Illinois National Guard and Reserve medics who are about to be deployed in conflict areas. He provides training in the assessment of traumatic brain injury, giving the medics the capacity to speed treatment when minutes can make a great difference in a patient’s outcome.
In addition, Young is working to advance treatment for patients with brain injuries. He is a principal investigator in a multi-site, NIH-funded study that is evaluating various therapies for brain injury to determine how individualized treatment is associated with improved function.
Even with all that he’s accomplished at Rush, Young is still humbled by receiving the 2013 Thonar award, named for a retired Rush professor of biochemistry and orthopedic surgery who overcame a disabling illness and become an internationally renowned researcher.
“I sincerely appreciate receiving this honor and hope to follow in the achievements from past award recipients,” he says.