A U.S. Air Force veteran, neurologist and widely published researcher, Russell Gore, M.D., was hired in December 2015 to serve as director of vestibular neurology and as medical director of Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative – a comprehensive rehabilitation program that focuses on assessment and treatment for service men and women who have sustained a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury, along with co-occurring PTSD or other mental health concerns (such as depression or anxiety), from service in post-9/11 conflicts. This past fall, Dr. Gore also became the director of Shepherd Center’s new Complex Concussion Clinic, a one-stop resource that offers a streamlined path to full recovery for patients with complex concussions.
Q: What has struck you the most during your first year at Shepherd Center?
A: Everything is super personalized for each patient. We recently treated a brain injury patient whose passion is playing the cello. So we incorporated the cello directly into her vestibular physical therapy. That’s the belief here: Get the tools of our patients’ trades into their hands again right away. If we’re not incorporating our patients’ passions into their therapy, we’re probably not doing it right.
Q: How unique is your role here as a neurologist?
A: In a traditional hospital setting, it’s not typical for a neurologist to work with brain or spinal cord injuries from the start – that’s usually only the neurosurgeon – even though we often see those patients later if they have prolonged symptoms. Here, though, I see patients with brain injuries right away, so both patients and doctors experience the full spectrum of care. It’s a collaborative approach that helps fill the voids that have existed in traditional care.
Q: What’s your hope for the new Complex Concussion Clinic?
A: The concussion cases that fall through the cracks usually have long-term symptoms, but they don’t require surgical interventions. That’s where this program comes in. We bring in a complete team of experts working together across a variety of fields – doctors, physiatrists, brain injury experts and therapists. Our therapists are the strength of this clinic, and they operate from a model based on the patient’s goals. We ask them, “Where do you want to be?”
Q: What inspired your eight-year service in the Air Force as a flight surgeon and weapon systems officer?
A: My father was an F-4 pilot at the end of the Vietnam War and was part of the initial cadre of the first F-15 fighter pilots in the 1970s. My uncles served in Korea and Vietnam, and my grandfathers served in World War II. I always knew I would serve. I was deployed often in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in places like England, Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and Israel. It was a natural progression for me, working with pilots for whom spatial orientation is paramount, to then become interested in vestibular neurology. Today, it’s an honor to keep working with veterans through Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative.
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering
Interviewed by Phillip Jordan
Photos by Louie Favorite
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. Last year Shepherd Center had 965 admissions to its inpatient programs and 571 to its day patient programs. In addition, Shepherd Center sees more than 6,600 people annually on an outpatient basis. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at www.shepherd.org