Q & A with Jeremy Murray, CO, OTL06-01-2012
Jeremy Murray is the director of orthotics at Michigan Hand and Sports Rehabilitation Centers (MHSRC), headquartered in Warren. The orthotics department, which Murray oversees, offers an array of orthotic services; however, his specialty is personalized protective facemasks. He has fit athletes from as far away as Russia, on individuals as young as four to as old as their mid 60s, and on all levels—from grade school, high school, college, professional, to adult recreational. While most of the masks he makes are for basketball and soccer, he has made them for cheerleading, baseball and softball, water and horse polo, martial arts, field hockey, volleyball, and more.
How did you become interested in O&P?
I pursued healthcare because of my sister, Hannah. During the birthing process she had the oxygen supply cut off to her brain (birth anoxia), which left her severely, multiply disabled. Her occupational therapist (OT) lived down the street from our home, and I shadowed her for several months. After working as an OT for a few years, I was able to work under the direction of Jerry McHale, CO, who introduced me to the orthotics profession. His knowledge of biomechanics, fabrication techniques, and attention to detail intrigued me. Further, as my patient load increased and their needs became more complicated, I found that it was not feasible to treat every problem without better exposure to a wider variety of materials and processes. I realized that as a certified orthotist I would be able to successfully treat a more varied patient population.
How has your career progressed?
I spent the first four years of my professional career working as an upper-limb rehabilitation specialist, using directmolded, low-temperature materials for patients in an outpatient, acute setting. Because of my exposure to MHSRC, I pursued and completed the educational and certification requirements to become an orthotist. Once certified, my career progressed rapidly from staff orthotist to director of orthotics in a little less than four years.
Please describe how you started creating facemasks for athletes.
I learned to make custom facemasks from Jerry McHale, who was the first person to use a custom facemask for an athletic purpose. In 1990, he fabricated a custom mask for Bill Laimbeer, who played basketball for the Detroit Pistons. The first facemask that I made was for Richard "Rip" Hamilton, who currently plays basketball for the Chicago Bulls. He has been wearing his since 2004.
What are your personal and/or professional goals?
To help make O&P a more nationally recognized and respected profession. I would also like to teach O&P at the university level. I can't think of anything more rewarding than being able to pass along the knowledge and techniques that I have developed.
What areas do you feel are currently the most underserved in terms of the O&P profession?
Upper-limb and arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There seems to be a lack of understanding of how to treat these patients. RA patients are underserved because O&P professionals lack the requisite education and rheumatologists underutilize O&P professionals. A little more education on the part of both the doctors and the clinicians could help these patients tremendously over the course of their lives.