The Herman J. Flax Collection of Physiatry[Frontspiece from De Morbis Acutis et Chronicis (1709):click on image for more detailed look]
On April 13, 1995, Dr. Herman J. Flax marked his retirement from over fifty years of practice in physical medicine and rehabilitation by donating his exceptional collection of physiatry books to Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Flax, a 1940 graduate of the Medical College of Virginia, assembled the collection over thirty-five years. The volumes range from very old and rare materials such as Thomas Linacre's translation of Galen's important treatise on hygiene published in Paris in 1538 to numerous current research materials in the field. Altogether the nearly 500 volumes in six languages make up an expansive collection in a field of medicine that includes aspects of rehabilitation and physical medicine, occupational therapy, orthopedics and alternative medicine. This home page is a small sampling of the volumes that make up the Herman J. Flax Collection of Physiatry.
A bibliographic record is available through the book icon.
One of the highlights of the Herman J. Flax Collection of Physiatry is the three editions of Geronimo Mercuriali's De Arte Gymnastica. Mercuriali (1530-1606) was educated at Padua and spent a number of years in Rome studying classical and medical literature. His extensive knowledge of the attitudes of Greeks and Romans toward diet, exercise and hygiene and their effect on health and disease is evident in De Arte Gymnastica. This work, published in Venice in 1569, is considered the first book in the field of sports medicine. The Flax Collection includes the illustrated second edition of 1573 as well as the 1587 and 1601 editions. The illustrated editions contain some 20 woodcuts by Coriolan.
El Gimnasio by D. Salvador Lopez Gomez is one of several Spanish imprints in the Flax Collection. This volume, published in Seville in 1873, contains multiple plates illustrating gymnastic moves.
Francis Fuller (1670-1706) first published a work on medical gymnastics in 1705. The work passed through six editions prior to the issue of the one entitled Medicina Gymnastica; or, Every Man his Own Physician. It is the first work in English on the power of exercise in treating disease.
George Webb Derenzy published Enchiridion, a short volume on help for the one-handed. The book contains illustrations of the numerous devices and explains how they might be used to perform daily tasks.
In 1795, Lorenzo Hervas (1735-1809) published this two volume work for deaf mutes. Escuela Espanola De Sordomudos contains several foldouts illustrating the early sign language alphabet.
In addition to publishing widely in his professional specialty, Dr. Flax produced collective works of poetry. His first, September Songs, published in 1984, was followed by Song of My Sixties in 1987.
Rehabilitation was dominated by physical therapists in the years before World War II. During the war, Dr. Howard A. Rusk, an internal medicine specialist from St. Louis, Missouri, developed the Army Air Force Convalescent Training Program. Dr. Rusk is credited with sparking medicine's interest in rehabilitation and initiating the modern speciality of physical medicine and rehabilitation. This copy of Dr. Rusk's autobiography is inscribed: "For Jake Flax with admiration and affection Howard A. Rusk Oct. 23, 1973."