A History of Making the World a Better Place
Shriners Children's is one of the most unique, widely-renowned healthcare systems in the world, and its founding 100 years ago by the Shriners fraternity is a special story worthy of celebrating.
We are honored to commemorate this incredible milestone, a 100 years of providing hope, healing and innovation.
Back to the Beginning: A Tradition of Philanthropy
Members of Shriners International, a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles, have always shared a common desire to help those in need. Known for aiding the victims of catastrophic events and serving those less fortunate in their local communities, Shriners have consistently shown a deep dedication to making the world a better place.
In the early half of the 1900s, polio affected thousands of people annually in the United States alone, especially children. The need for pediatric orthopedic services was great, and help was needed to treat the effects of polio and other conditions affecting the bones, joints and muscles. Members of the Shriners fraternity recognized that need, and decided to do something about it.
Shriners Children's is Born
The plan for Shriners International to form their own unique charity began to take shape in the late 1910s. After years of laying the groundwork, their vision of providing specialty medical care to children, regardless of a families' ability to pay or insurance status, finally came alive.
In 1922, the first Shriners hospital opened its doors in Shreveport, Louisiana, providing state-of-the-art pediatric orthopedic care. Thanks to members of the Shriners fraternity, Shriners Children's was officially born. The group continues to support the healthcare system as its official philanthropy today.
A Century of Improving the Lives of Children
Over the past century, Shriners Children’s has become one of the largest pediatric sub-specialty healthcare systems in the world. Today, our multiple locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico provide advanced care for children with a range of orthopedic issues, as well as care for burn injuries, craniofacial conditions, spine care and spinal cord injuries, colorectal and gastrointestinal care, and sports medicine.
Shriners Children’s is changing lives every day through its three-part mission to provide innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Over the last 100 years, Shriners Children’s has treated more than 1.5 million children from more than 180 countries, and we are looking forward to the next 100 years of care.
Hope Makes Us Different
We all want the very best for our children. Every child deserves the chance to live a full, happy life – no matter the circumstances or challenges they may face.
The staff of Shriners Children's believes this wholeheartedly, and that’s why for the past 100 years, we have been dedicated to providing hope and healing to children every single day.
At Shriners Children's, we embrace a compassionate, family-centered and collaborative care approach that addresses the overall health and wellbeing of each child, and every patient receives personalized attention and individualized care plans made just for them.
Once under our care, families struggling with complex medical issues discover they are not alone. They are surrounded by hope, compassion and confidence because we know that when you give a family hope, everything changes.
Our goal has been, and continues to be, to help our patients understand that there are no limitations to what they can accomplish and that they are not defined by any challenges they may face. That's what makes us different, and that's what makes us Shriners Children's.
They talked to us about what we wanted to do when we grew up, encouraging us not to accept limitations. Not only did they fix me physically, they gave me that push to go into the world and overcome adversity. To this day, I don't let too much stop me. If I want something, I do what I have to do to get it. If someone tells me I can't do something, I try twice as hard to prove I can."
A Tradition of Providing State-of-the-Art Specialty Care
For 100 years, Shriners Children’s pediatric care teams have been led by some of the most prestigious and innovative doctors in the world.
Learn more about some of ways we have paved the way in specialty care for children:
Since the first Shriners Children’s location opened in the 1920s, primarily to help children who had contracted polio, today, the majority of our locations provide care for children with all types of orthopedic conditions.
Shriners Children's is one of the largest networks of facilities in North America that specialize in pediatric orthopedics. Our pediatric specialists treat a wide range of conditions - from the rare to the routine - including clubfoot, hip disorders, limb deficiencies and limb deformities, scoliosis, fractures, orthopedic difficulties related to cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions, sports injuries and more.
From fracture care and casting for broken bones, to surgery and rehabilitation, our healthcare system offers a full spectrum of orthopedic services. We also provide low-dose radiology, motion analysis, bracing, casting, and orthotic and prosthetic services. All of these are complemented by our physical, occupational and recreational therapy programs.
Aware of a need for medical expertise in pediatric burn care, Shriners Children’s opened three hospitals specializing in acute and rehabilitative burn care in the mid-1960s. These were the only facilities that were initially established exclusively for the treatment of pediatric burns and related conditions.
Today, there are three Shriners Children's locations providing burn care that are accredited by the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as verified pediatric burn centers. These burn centers continue to be pioneers in pediatric burn treatment and research, and are recognized as leaders in the development of improved and innovative treatment techniques.
Shriners Children’s treats all levels and types of burns, including chemical burns, electrical burns and flame burns. Since we began treating burns nearly 40 years ago, our physicians and care teams have contributed to most of the significant advancements in acute and reconstructive burn care. They draw on their own pioneering work when they treat a child for a burn, which can include wound care, scar management and reconstructive surgeries.
Spinal Cord Injury Care
In the early 1980s, Shriners Children’s began the nation’s first pediatric spinal cord injury rehabilitation programs, paving the way for life-changing innovative care and treatment in the field. These initiatives offer patients a complete range of services that help promote recovery to the fullest extent possible, which is always our goal.
Our healthcare system now offers a full spectrum of pediatric spine and spinal cord care and services, which range from nonsurgical serial casting for infantile scoliosis to tendon and nerve transfers that can bring back function and sensation to children with spinal cord injuries.
Our pediatric spine and spinal cord physicians are among the most highly skilled and specialized in North America. We are internationally known and respected for our expertise in pediatric spine and spinal cord care, providing transformative, compassionate and life-changing care to children to support them physically and emotionally.
Cleft Lip and Palate Care
Cleft lip and palate care is another of the healthcare system’s main specialties. Facial clefts are one of the most common birth defects in the U.S., but despite its frequency and severity, comprehensive care for patients with cleft lip and/or cleft palate can be difficult to find. Shriners Children’s is committed to improving care for children with these conditions through a coordinated program of clinical excellence, teaching and research.
Shriners Children’s specialists help with the physical, social, emotional and developmental challenges that can occur when a child has a craniofacial condition, such as cleft lip and palate. Our locations offer advanced treatments and services such as craniofacial surgery, 3D printing for jaw surgeries, facial and dental imaging, psychology, speech therapy, audiology, ear, nose and throat surgeons, dental and orthodontic related services, and care management.
We are proud that multiple Shriners Children’s locations are American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association approved teams. Our plastic surgeons have undergone additional training to evaluate and treat craniofacial conditions in children.
Groundbreaking Research and Discoveries
Shriners Children’s strives to discover answers that will one day improve lives by conducting high-quality, innovative research.
Over the years, our researchers have made significant breakthroughs in many of our areas of specialty care – including burn care, congenital neuromuscular disorders, craniofacial conditions, orthopedics, spine care and sports medicine. These cutting-edge discoveries continue to improve the care and quality-of-life for countless children worldwide, while adding to the global body of medical knowledge.
From research to clinical practice, Shriners Children’s continues to transform our approach to pediatric healthcare through the pursuit of new knowledge and innovation.
Educating the Healthcare Professionals of Tomorrow
Shriners Children’s also plays a huge role in medical education. By maintaining relationships with several top-notch medical teaching facilities, Shriners Children’s fosters an academic environment committed to providing superior education for medical professionals and quality care to all patients.
Notable Innovations Over the Years:
- Improved therapies for burn injures has increased survival rates for children with burn injuries
- Development of pressure garments to reduce/minimize scarring for kids with burn injuries
- Development of IV medical therapies for bone disorders such as osteogenesis imperfecta
- Creation of the nation’s first pediatric spinal cord injury program
- Creation of the world’s first dedicated pediatric burns hospital
- Development of vertebral body tethering, an innovate surgical approach to scoliosis treatment
- Creation of a dedicated genomics institute to aid in the discovery of genetic root causes for disease
- Pioneers in regenerative medicine: first to grow skin grafts using a patient’s own cells for the treatment of burn injuries
- Breakthrough research identifying a cellular link to the development of arthritis in children
- Development of muscle stimulation systems in the care of children with spinal cord injuries
- Innovative surgical treatments to improve patients’ quality-of-life
- Global leader in pediatric spinal cord injury rehabilitation and management
We're Just Getting Started!
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