Homer Hartman Stryker, MD (November 4, 1894 – May 5, 1980) was an American orthopedic surgeon, inventor, businessman, and the founder of Stryker Corporation. His inventions contributed to orthopedic care, patient comfort, and medical staff convenience.
Early life and education
Stryker was born in Wakeshma Township, Michigan on November 4, 1894, later graduating from Athens High School as part of the class of 1913. Stryker earned his teaching certificate from Western Michigan University in 1916 and taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the Keweenaw Bay school system in the Upper Peninsula before serving as an infantry man in France during World War I.
Stryker returned to Michigan to study medicine. Stryker was admitted into the University of Michigan medical school in 1919, however failed the foreign language exam that was required for admittance, and as a consequence he was unable to be admitted. To be able to afford medical school tuition, Stryker taught at a school in Grand Ledge, Michigan, he coached football, basketball and baseball, worked as a barber, and pitched for the Grand Ledge semi-pro baseball team for two years. He was later able to begin his medical studies in 1921 after obtaining the tuition and passing the foreign language exam. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1925 and interned at the University Hospital. Stryker began his medical practice in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and established offices in Borgess Hospital, where he was the only orthopedic surgeon in the region.
In 1935, Stryker began tinkering in his workshop with medical devices, developing a rubber heel for walking casts as well as an innovative hospital bed that reduced the incidence of bedsores in bed-ridden patients.
In 1943 he created his most important invention, an oscillating electric saw "such that the cutter is actuated with a relatively short oscillating stroke of the order of one-eighth of an inch", that cuts and removes casts but would not cut skin. He received a patent in 1947 and the principle is used today in the "Stryker Saw", the standard surgical tool for bone and plaster casts.
In 1946, he founded Orthopedic Frame Company Inc. to manufacture and sell his inventions, although no patent had yet been granted for his hospital bed. In January 1958, the Orthopedic Frame Company launched the Circ-O-Lectric bed, which has evolved ever since. On January 2, 1964, Homer Stryker retired from practicing medicine and changed the name of his company from the 'Orthopedic Frame Company' to 'Stryker Corporation'.
In 2014, the Western Michigan University School of Medicine was renamed to the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine after an initial anonymous donation of $100 million was given to the school by Stryker’s granddaughter, Ronda Stryker.
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- The Forbes 400: Healers and Dealers