Celebrating the birthday of AO founding father Robert Schneider

Today, the AO celebrates the 110th birthday of one of its founding fathers, Robert Schneider (1912–1990). He grew up bilingually in Biel, Switzerland, and was an athletic young man who was very passionate about rowing. As a member of the Biel Rowing Club, he was a natural leader, a distinguishing trait that he retained for a lifetime.

Schneider began medical studies in 1931 in Bern, Switzerland, together with his friend Walter Bandi, who would also become an AO founding father. The two friends also spent a semester in Paris, France, and later married their wives—both professional muscians—in the same month. Schneider and Bandi both worked at the surgical clinic of the University hospital in Bern before leaving in 1945. Scheider opened a practice for general medicine and surgery in Grosshöchstetten, a rural town not far from Bern where he became chief physician in 1956. In traumatology, he was above all an expert in intramedullary nailing (IM). In the first AO book, he wrote the chapter on complications. He and Institute Straumann technician Paul Gisin developed the conical thread for improved insertion and removal of IM nails.

His role within the AO was that of a calm, natural authority with conciliatoriness. It is no wonder that the group decided to make him chairman, a position he held for 20 years. Schneider’s personality and leadership earned him great respect in many countries. He was very result-oriented and had more than 3,000 almost completely documented cases with preoperative anamneses and postoperative, clinical and radiological course controls extending over years.

In 1977, Schneider was awarded an honorary doctorate from the medical faculty of the University of Mainz. He wrote 10 years of AO - Swiss Association for the Study of Internal Fixation and Fractures and 25 Years of AO Switzerland - Association for the Study of Internal Fixation and Fractures, both rich sources of AO information. Schneider died 1990, moments after finishing a hip arthroplasty. AO Spain dedicated its 20th anniversary symposia in 1991 to Schneider, a sign of the AO community’s high regard for him.