OBITUARY: Professor Haim Ring, 1944-2008

Haim Ring was born in Uruguay in July 18, 1944. He received his M.D. title from the Faculty of Medicine in Montevideo in 1973 and in 1980, he completed a 5 year residency program in P&RM at the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital (LRH), which is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine in Tel-Aviv University and is the largest rehabilitation center in Israel. His untimely death on September 15, 2008 was the end of a professional career of almost 35 years at the LRH. Haim Ring was father of three children – Edan, Matan and Shani. His wife Irene accompanied him to many rehab congresses and was known to many in the international rehabilitation community.

Dr. Haim Ring started teaching during his residency period and became an Instructor in the P&RM Department of Tel-Aviv University in 1980, Lecturer in 1988, Senior Lecturer in 1990, Associate Clinical Professor in 1993 and Full Clinical Professor in 2000. During his many years of teaching, he gave lectures on all aspects of rehabilitation medicine, functional evaluation and electromyography to physicians of all specialties, medical students, as well as, students from different health professions. He directed the 1988-91 CME program in P&RM of Tel-Aviv University, and various other educational programs and courses. Dr. Ring supervised eight M.Sc. research projects by students of bio-engineering, physiotherapy and occupational medicine, and eight basic-science research projects by P&RM residents.

Dr. Haim Ring contributed enormously to the advancement of P&RM in Israel and to the international recognition of Israeli achievements in the field. In 1976, while still a resident in P&RM, he was nominated Head of The Institute for Functional Evaluation at the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital (LRH). In 1988, he became Director of Department C for Neurological Rehabilitation at the LRH. He held these two positions until his death. During the years 1996-2004, he served as Deputy Director of the LRH for clinical and research activities. In 1994, Dr. Ring was elected to be President of the Israel Association of P&RM, a position he held for eight years. In 2000-2004, he served as Chairman of the P&RM Department at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel-Aviv University, and in 2004 became Chairman of the National Council for Rehabilitation. During these years, Dr. Ring was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Scientific Council of the Israel Medical Association (IMA), and member of various committees of the IMA, Tel-Aviv University and the Ministry of Health in Israel.

In 1996, Haim Ring organized the First Mediterranean P&RM Congress in Herzlia, Israel. At the opening session of the 7th Mediterranean P&RM Congress in Portoroze, Slovenia, a few days after his death, Haim Ring's key role in the foundation, maintenance and development of the Mediterranean Forum of P&RM was stressed by all. Haim Ring contributed enormously to this organization from its inception in 1996.

In more recent years he was nominated Honorary President of the organization. After his death, it was decided that the rehabilitation school operating in Siracusa, Italy which gathers young P&RM doctors from all countries of the Mediterranean basin during the summer would be renamed "The Euro-Mediterranean PRM School Haim Ring". In a recently published obituary (Disability and Rehabilitation, 2008; 30(19):1409-1410), Salvatore Giaquinto pointed out that "Rehabilitation Without Frontiers" (the title given by Haim Ring to the first Mediterranean P&RM Congress) summarizes his philosophy. Drs. Ring and Giaquinto as well as the other founders of the Mediterranean Forum of P&RM contributed greatly to the dissemination of this concept far beyond the Mediterranean area.

One important aspect of this idea, as explained by Giaquinto, is that personal friendship and professional interaction between P&RM specialists in different countries, should recognize no limitation imposed by historical, political, religious or other factors of conflict between nations.

In the years 1985-2008, Dr. Haim Ring participated in a large number of rehab congresses in different countries and this exposure established his position as an international leader in the field of medical rehabilitation. Several national rehabilitation societies gave him honorary positions. He served on several editorial boards including International Disability Studies, Clinical Rehabilitation, Disability and Rehabilitation, European Journal of PM&R (Vienna), and Europa Mediciphysica (recently renamed European Journal of Physical and Rehabiliation Medicine).

He also served as a permanent and ad-hoc reviewer for many other journals. In 1994, Dr. Ring was nominated Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East of the International Rehabilitation Medicine Association (IRMA), a position he held until 1997, when he became Vice President of IRMA. He served also as Regional Vice President of the International PM&R Federation (IFPMR) during the years 1995-1999.

In 1999 he was elected to be Vice President of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM), the new world organization that resulted from the merging of IRMA and IFPMR and went on to serve as President between 2002 and 2004. In this latter role, Dr. Ring chaired the Organizing Committee of the 2nd ISPRM World Congress. After his presidency period, Dr. Ring continued to hold leading positions in the ISPRM board of governors. In 2007, he was also elected to be President of the European Federation of Research in Rehabilitation (EFRR).

Haim Ring's first publication (in the year 1979) dealt with electromyographic criteria for diagnosis of early damage to the Ulnar nerve. Since this first paper, he published 145 original research papers and 6 review articles (all appearing in peer-reviewed journals). He also wrote or co-authored 17 chapters in books and congress proceedings. In his research activities, he colaborated not only with other physicians but also with rehabilitationists from all the allied health professions, as well as, with non-clinicians, on more basic aspects of rehabilitation science.

He published extensively on diagnostic uses of electromyography and somatosensory evoked potentials in rehabilitation; postural control and balance disorders; functional evaluation; stroke rehabilitation, oucome of stroke and stroke syndromes; use of advanced technology in rehabilitation; and other issues of general interest related to PRM. He will be sorely missed…as a husband, father, friend and teacher. May his soul rest in peace.

Nachum Soroker, MD 
Department of Neurological Rehabilitation, Loewenstein Hospital and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel