Complementary Healing Biographies and Contact Information

Course Directors

Dr. Rory A. Cooper

Distinguished Professor, FISA/PVA Chair, Department of Rehabilitation and Technology, University of Pittsburgh 
Director, Human Engineering Research Laboratories
VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence fore Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering
Pittsburgh, PA

Contact Information
Human Engineering Research Laboratories
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
6425 Penn Avenue, Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 822-3700 

Rory A. Cooper, PhD received the BS and MEng degrees in electrical engineering for California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He received the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in bioengineering from University of California at Santa Barbara in 1989. He is FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and professor of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Medicine & Rehab, and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Cooper is Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh. He is also the Co-Director of the NSF Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center, a joint effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

He is the Editor of the journal Assistive Technology and the AT Research Book Series of IOS Press. Dr. Cooper serves or has served on the editorial boards of several prominent peer-reviewed journals in the fields of rehabilitation and bioengineering. He has received multiple prestigious awards to include the Olin Teague Award, Paul Magnuson Award, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, James Peters Award, Maxwell J. Schleifer Award,DaVinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Veteran’s Leadership Program Veteran of the Year, and a member of the inaugural class of the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame. Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed journal publications. He has ten patents awarded or pending. Dr. Cooper is the author of two books: Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation and Wheelchair Selection and Configuration, and co-editor of An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering, Care of the Combat Amputee, and the Warrior Transition Leader Medical Rehabilitation Handbook. Dr. Cooper is an elected Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Dr. Cooper has been an invited lecturer at many institutions around the world, for example the National Academies of Sciences Distinctive Voices Lecture, and was awarded Honorary Professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Xi’an Jiatong University. He has also been elected to Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi honorary societies.   

Dr. Cooper is a former President of RESNA, and a member of the RESNA/ANSI and ISO Wheelchair Standards Committees, and IEEE-EMBS Medical Device Standards Committee. In 1988, he was a bronze medalist in the Paralympic Games, Seoul, Republic of Korea. He was on the steering committee for the 1996 Paralympic Scientific Congress held in Atlanta, GA, and the Sports Scientist for the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team in Beijing, China. In 2009, Dr. Cooper was featured on a Cheerios cereal box for his many achievements. He has been a member of theU.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – Medicare Advisory Committee, Steering Committee of the Academy of PM&R on Research Capacity Building. and Chair of the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, and National Academy of Sciences Keck Foundation Initiative on Human Health Span Steering Committee. Dr. Cooper is a U.S. Army veteran with a spinal cord injury and a Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Research Foundation. He currently serves as a member of the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Prosthetics & Special Disability Programs Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Defense Health Board Subcommittee on Amputation and Orthopedics, and the Board of Directors of Easter Seals. Dr. Cooper has actively collaborated with the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre on increasing access to quality services and devices for people with disabilities in India and throughout developing countries.

COL Paul F. Pasquina

Chief, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Consultant to the Office of the Surgeon General for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence fore Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering
Pittsburgh, PA

Contact Information
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Orthopedics Department Room 2157
8901 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20889 

Colonel Paul F. Pasquina, MD is the Chief of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research (CRSR) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and USUHS. In addition to being board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), he is also board certified in Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Pain Medicine. He completed a fellowship in sports medicine and remains interested in all aspects of musculoskeletal medicine, especially as it relates to individuals with disabilities. He is the specialty consultant to the Army Surgeon General for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a Secretarial appointee on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Advisory Committe for Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs. 

Dr. Pasquina has authored multiple book chapters, journal articles, and policy papers. He has served as the PM&R Residency Program Director and Medical Advisor to the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command for quality healthcare. He has received multiple military awardsm as well as awards for teaching and mentorship, including the U.S. Army's "A" Proficiency Designation for academin excellence, the Order of Military Medical Merit, and Honorary Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

Dr. Michael A. Boninger

Professor and Chair, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Associate Dean for Medical Research and Professor, School of Medicine
University of Pittsburgh
VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service
Pittsburgh, PA

Contact Information
Human Engineering Research Laboratories
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
6425 Penn Avenue, Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 822-3700 

Michael L. Boninger, MD is professor and chair in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the Director of UPMC Rehabilitation Institute. He also serves as medical director of Human Engineering Research Laboratories and holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology and Bioengineering.  Dr. Boninger is also the director of the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury, a National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research Center of Excellence, and Medical Director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories.

Dr. Boninger received a mechanical engineering degree and Doctorate of Medicine from the Ohio State University. Dr. Boninger has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and numerous abstracts, proceedings, and book chapters. Dr. Boninger, who holds three patents, is on the editorial board of the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Boninger has been an invited speaker on assistive technology, wheelchair biomechanics, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, and secondary prevention of disabilities around the world. In 2003, he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), reserved for the top 2% of biomedical engineers.

Guest Faculty

Diane Collins, PhD OT/L
Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Diane Collins is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.  She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy from Wayne State University and a Master of Science degree in management from Webster University.  Dr. Collins received the PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Pittsburgh.  Dr. Collins received the VA RR&D Post-Doctoral Fellowship Disability Supplement and the VA Post-Doctoral Research Health Care Scientist Fellowship awards.  Dr. Collins is an active member in several professional societies and organizations, including University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Disability Resource Council, University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association, Rehabilitation Engineers and Assistive Technology Society of North America, and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Major General (ret) T.S. Jones, USMC
Outdoor Odyssey at Roaring Run, Inc.

T.S. Jones, founder and Executive Director for Outdoor Odyssey, recently retired from the United States Marine Corps after serving in excess of three decades.  Retiring as a Major General, Jones, the “recipient of countless blessings and great opportunities,”  vowed to design and build the vehicle to reach those in need in the manner in which he was impacted as a youth; Outdoor Odyssey was born.  The initial mission, thriving yet greatly expanded, focused on identifying youth in need, providing them a shared experience of high adventure with a MENTOR, in order to forge a BOND that sets the stage for successful follow-on activities in the school and community.  To help acquire the needed resources to reach those in need, Jones crafted a menu of dynamic packages that would be embraced by a variety of organizations.  Jones has taken more than a “page” and even a few “chapters” from his experience as a Marine, as he developed Outdoor Odyssey’s approach to team building and leadership.  In the manner of the Marine Corps, EVERYTHING focuses on TEAM, and EVERY team is bound together and supported by an extended web of relationships.

One of the watchwords that permeates every aspect of the Outdoor Odyssey’s approach is the acronym MEPS, a dynamic tool representing the four, potential dimensions of everyone’s character: Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual development.  Very few individuals fully develop all four of these dimensions, many have significant deficiencies among the dimensions and some lack certain dimensions entirely.  Outdoor Odyssey stands ready to work with each leader to conduct a self appraisal of how he/she approaches these very important aspects of his/her personal development, as they literally shape one’s ability to lead others and contribute to the performance of the team.

Elizabeth Mackey, MTBC
Director, National Veterans Creative Arts Festival
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 

Ms. Elizabeth Mackey, Board Certified Music Therapist, graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  She worked as a music therapist with patients at the St. Cloud, Minnesota VA Medical Center from 1985 to 2001.  In 1993, she served as the host site coordinator of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, a program that recognizes and supports the use of the arts as therapy in the lives of Veterans, and was the chairperson of the visual arts division in 1994.

Since 1995, she has served as the Director of the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition and Festival.  Through her experience as a creative arts therapist, she has developed a deep sense of commitment toward understanding the positive impact that the arts have in the treatment and rehabilitation process of our nation’s Veterans. 

John F. Register, BS
Associate Director
Community and Veteran Programs
U.S. Olympic Committee

From All American Track Hurdle star to Amputee to long jump silver medalist - John Register has never let adversity hold him back.  He has hurdled his adversity and challenges his audiences to do the same!  Register is a dynamic speaker who commands his listeners' attention with a mix of humor, emotion and enthusiasm. His anecdotes about growing up are applicable to any audience. And, while his stories are presented in an amusing fashion, the life lessons to be learned and the outcomes achieved are easily recognized, powerful and impact every audience His track and field accolades include him being a collegiate four time All-American long jumper, hurdler, and 4x40m relay specialist, while attending the University of Arkansas.  He twice qualified for the Olympic Trials once in the 110m high hurdles in 1988 and once in the 400m intermediate hurdles in 1992.   He enlisted in the U.S. Army to further his track pursuits but Operation Desert Storm cut into his training time as he served 7 months in Southwest Asia, an experience he says he would never trade.

On May 17th 1994 Register suffered a crippling injury that resulted in the amputation of his left leg.  The injury dashed his hope of making the Olympic team and stifled his class date for Officer Candidate School. Yet, 18 months later he competed in the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia as a swimmer anchoring the 4x100 medley relay!  Two years later he returned to his first love of track and field and qualified for the 2000 Paralympic Team that competed in Sydney Australia.  He jumped into the track and field history books by winning the silver medal and setting an American record in the process all while becoming one of two athletes in the world to have jump further than 17’8” feet without a leg or knee. His courage in the face of uncertainty has inspired audiences young and old.  He has been featured on numerous television shows such as, “Morning Blend” with former host Soledad O’Brien, “It’s a Miracle” with host Richard Thomas, “The Weekend Today Show” and “The Edge” with former host Paula Zahn.    In 2007 he was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as one of eight members to advise the Secretary on Foreign policy Issues regarding disability. He continues to serve in this capacity under Secretary Hillary Clinton (another Razorback). 

John's skill as a speaker and motivator are superior and he has the unique ability through his keynotes and training seminars to empower you to believe that you can do anything you set your mind too!  So, get ready and come on an inspiration journey with John and ride along as he takes you from setting your Vision and leading you through the Inspirational cycle which will Motivate you to Act with intension for the Results in your life that will inspire others and thereby inspire the world!  You too will believe that you too can Hurdle Your Adversity and empower life! 

Lieutent Colonel Matthew St. Laurent, MS OT
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center 

LTC St. Laurent obtained the Bachelor of Arts in psychology and the Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy, both from the University of New Hampshire.  He earned the masters of Science degree in occupational therapy from Medical College of Georgia.  LTC St. Laurent completed an internship in occupational therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC.  LTC St. Laurent was an Interagency Fellow, Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran’s Health Administration, Rehabilitation Services, Central Officer, Washington, D.C., and the Chief in the Occupational Clinic, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington DC.  LTC St. Laurent is currently the Assistant Chief of Integrated Occupational Therapy Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda.

COL. (ret) Barbara Springer, PT PHD OCS SCS
National Director
Project HERO (Healing Exercise Rehabilitation Opportunity)

Dr. Barb Springer is the National Director of Project HERO, Ride 2 Recovery, a non-profit organization that utilizes cycling as an extension of physical and psychological rehabilitation for our healing military Service members and Veterans. She served 25 years in the U.S. Army and retired out of the Office of The Surgeon General where she served as the Director of Rehabilitation and Reintegration Division. She recommended policy and instituted Army-wide standards of care for rehabilitation and transition of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.

Before assuming this position in 2008, Dr. Springer was Chief, Integrated Physical Therapy (PT) Service where she served as leader to both Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in the Washington, DC Metro area. In this role, she ensured world-class rehabilitative care to thousands of wounded service members and other military beneficiaries, averaging over 7,000 visits each month.  She was also responsible for conducting, tracking, and supervising clinical research projects; overseeing graduate education; supporting congressional projects; supporting amputee, traumatic brain injury, and spine centers; and planning for and executing PT Service integration for Base Realignment and Closure.  While serving in this position, Dr. Springer was also the White House PT Consultant, the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command PT Consultant, and a member of the Military Amputee Research Program Executive Committee.

Dr. Springer’s other assignments include Chief of PT and Director of the Sports PT Residency at West Point, NY; Chief of PT at Schofield Barracks, HI; Chief of PT at Camp Casey, Korea; and PT at Ft Sill, OK.  She earned a Ph.D. in Health Education from The University of Texas at Austin and is part of the Graduate Faculty in the Doctoral Program in Sports Medicine-Physical Therapy at Baylor University.  COL Springer (Ret) is board certified as both an Orthopedic and a Sports Physical Therapy Specialist.  Her research interests lie in sports physical therapy, amputee rehabilitation, breast cancer and core stabilization.  She has published in peer-reviewed journals and has presented numerous platform presentations at professional meetings.  COL Springer (Ret), her husband Steve, and their two children, Nick and Mike, live in Potomac, MD.  They enjoy cycling, camping, hiking, and sporting activities.

Sergeant Major Joseph VanFonda
Wounded Warrior Regimental Sergeant Major
HQ Marine Corps 

Sergeant Major Joseph VanFonda enlisted in the Marine Corps in January of 1987 under the delayed entry program. He graduated from recruit traning at Parris Island, South Carolina in May 1987. In June 1987, SgtMaj VanFonda reported for Duty with Schgool's Company, Marine Corps Detachment Fort Lee Virginia, as a Bulk Fuel Specialist. In October 1987 he was transferred to 2nd Force Service Support Group (FSSG), 8th Engineers Support Battalion, Fleet Marine Forces Atlantic, Camp Lejeune N.C. In April of 1988 SgtMaj VanFonda was promoted to the rank of Corporal where he then reported to the 3rd Force Service Support Group (REIN), Fleet Marine Forces Pacific, Okinawa Japan. While serving with 3rd FSSG, SgtMaj VanFonda made a Lateral move to the Communication Field and was temporarily assigned to duty with 7th Communication Battalion 3rd (FSSG), Okinawa Japan. In October 1989 he was transferred to 8th Communication Battalion, Bravo Co. Serveillance Recon Intelligence (SRI), Camp Lejeune N.C. In November 1990, SgtMaj VanFonda served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and later was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1991.In 1992 SgtMaj VanFonda was selected to attend Drill Instructor (DI) School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island South Carolina. He graduated from DI School in December 1994 where he served as a Drill Instuctor and Senior Drill Instructor until January 1996 when he was transferred to 8th Communication Battalion, Bravo Co. Serveillance Recon Intelligence (SRI), Camp Lejeune N.C. for duty as the Company GySgt for Bravo Co.

In March 1997 SgtMaj VanFonda was promoted to the rank of SSgt and received orders for duty at 2nd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment as their CommunicationsSystems Chief. In February 1999 SgtMaj VanFonda was assigned to the Inspector-Instructor Staff, 6th Communication Battalion, HQ Battalion, MCRC Brooklyn NY. He was promoted to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant in March 2000 and was assigned as 6th Communications Battalion Communications Chief and collateral duty as 1stSgt of H&S Company. In June 2001 he was transferred to Marine Corps Logistics Base MCLB, Barstow CA. for duty as the base Communications Chief and later was assigned collateral duty as the Base Company GySgt. In October 2002, SgtMaj VanFonda was assigned a change of duty as the Battalion First Sergeant for Headquarters Battalion Marine Corps Logistics Base, Bastow California. In Feb 2003 SgtMaj VanFonda was promoted to the rank of 1stSgt where he continued to serve as the Battalion First Sergeant for Headquarters Battalion MCLB, Bastow California. In June 2003 SgtMaj VanFonda received orders to 2ND MARDIV for duty. SgtMaj VanFonda was assigned as the Company 1stSgt for Fox CO. 2/2 on September 5th 2003.

In March 2005, SgtMaj VanFonda was re-assigned to 1st BN 8th Marines Weapons Company as the Company 1stSgt where his unit was assigned to the 24th MEU. In January 2007, SgtMaj VanFonda received orders to 8th Communication Battalion and was assigned as the Service & Maintenance 1stSgt. In November 2007, SgtMaj VanFonda was promoted to his present rank and received orders for I&I 3rd Battalion 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division Philadelphia PA. as the Inspector Instructor SgtMaj. In Jan 2010 SgtMaj VanFonda received orders to HMH-464, MAG 29 New River, NC as the Squadron SgtMaj. In June 2010 SgtMaj VanFonda was reassigned to MALS 29, MAG 29 New River, NC as the Squadron SgtMaj. In January of 2011 he assumed his present duties as the Regimental Sergeant Major for the Wounded Warrior Regiment. SgtMaj VanFonda's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal with one gold star (2nd award) Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three gold stars (4th award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with four gold stars (5th award), Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (8th award), Humanitarian Service medal with one star (2nd award), National Defence Service Medal with one star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOTEM), Global War on Terrorism (GWOTM), (Kuwait) Liberation Medal, (Saudi Arabia) Libration Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal.

Rick Yount
Executive Director
Warrior Canine Connection

Rick Yount has served in the field of social work for twenty-five years. He has involved Animal Assisted Therapy in his practice for the past fifteen of those years. Rick holds a BA degree from West Virginia University and a MS degree in Assistance Dog Education from Bergin University of Canine Studies (BUCS). He combined his social work knowledge and experience with his service dog training background to develop a novel intervention to help service members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Rick created the Veterans service dog training therapy program "Paws for Purple Hearts" (PPH) as his Master's culminating project at BUCS.

Faculty Disclosure

Faculty for this activity have been required to disclose all relationships with any proprietary entity producing health care goods or services, with the exemption of non-profit or government organizations and non-health care related companies.

No relevant financial relationships with commercial entities were disclosed by Shelly R. Brown (Course Coordinator), Diane Collins, MG T.S. Jones, Elizabeth Mackey, John F. Register, LTC Matthew St. Laurent, Sergeant Major Joseph E. VanFonda, Rick Yount.

The follwing information was disclosed:

  • Michael L. Boninger - Patent: Held by the University of Pittsburgh; Board member: data safety monitoring board of stem cell study
  • Rory A. Cooper - AT Science patent agreements, Three Rivers Holdings, LLC patent agreements
  • Barbara Springer - Financial interest: Road 2 Recovery.

Disclaimer Statement

The information presented at this CME program represents the views and opinions of the individual presenters, and does not constitute the opinion or endorsement of, or promotion by, the UPMC Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Medical Center or Affiliates and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Reasonable efforts have been taken intending for educational subject matter to be presented in a balanced, unbiased fashion and in compliance with regulatory requirements. However, each program attendee must always use his/her own personal and professional judgment when considering further application of this information, particularly as it may relate to patient diagnostic or treatment decisions including, without limitation, FDA-approved uses and any off-label uses.

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