Pedaling Across America in 67 Days
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) will hold its annual assembly in Boston this September. As president of this medical society for some 7,000 practicing physiatrists, Joel M. Press, MD, GME ’88, plans to check out the meeting site in mid-August and at the same time, celebrate the end of a 3,861-mile “Ride for Rehab.” On June 12 Dr. Press set out from San Francisco on his trusty Waterford road bike to raise awareness about the importance of rehabilitation in improving patients’ quality of life as well as the need for rehab research funding.
Many years of bike riding has allowed this 48-year-old medical director of the Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), to stay in shape and see the world. Demonstrating the importance of physical activity by his own example, Dr. Press decided to combine his passion for cycling with his desire to educate people about the value of treating injuries and illnesses without surgery.
“I’ve wanted to cycle across the country for a long time but picking the right time was difficult,” explains Dr. Press, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Feinberg School, who will turn 49 on the road. “My current role as president of the academy made this summer a perfect time for me to plan the trip and bring awareness to the field.”
Dr. Press will spend the next 10 weeks pedaling about 70 miles a day, lecturing about the benefits of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and, specifically, addressing limited Medicare coverage for inpatient rehab services. Medicare patients face geographic disparities in coverage for inpatient rehabilitation for such ailments as ankle or hip fractures, according to a study conducted by the AAPM&R. Dr. Press’s fund-raising efforts through sponsorship will be realized with every mile he travels.
Friends, family, and colleagues hope to join Dr. Press at various points during his 12-state, 67-day trek across America. In fact he started his journey at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge with one of his pals. Some of his partners at the RIC may ride with him when comes through southern Illinois and his son Aaron, who just graduated from high school, will have his bike ready and waiting in Canton, Ohio, where Dr. Press will visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has also marked his calendar for an August 15 stop at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Remarks Dr. Press about his route, “There was some method to the madness!”
For updates on Dr. Press’ trip, visit his blog at
Posted June 13, 2007