For each new edition of our journal I look forward to the ‘Classic’. The Classic describes a single historic landmark article on a topic that has markedly influenced our practice since its first publication. The idea is to put our present praxis into a historical perspective. To give a sense of how we have got to where we are, and just how far we have come. Also perhaps to teach us humility, because a Classic can also describe something that has become obsolete, although it was considered cutting-edge at one time.
One of the vanities of science is that it views the past with a sense of superiority. We tend to believe that we finally solved the big problems thanks to the brilliance of the present generation and that the future will only need to tweak things here and there. The ancient Romans solved this attitude by having slaves stand behind them in their triumphal chariots, who whispered in their ears ‘remember, remember, you're also mortal!’ as for us, in JISAKOS, we have our Classic to keep reminding ourselves of our history.
‘Nothing ruins good results like long-term follow-up’. The source of this conventional piece of wisdom is unknown but could have found its origin in the article by John Feagin and Walton Curl (1976) on the 5-year follow-up of ACL repair.
Back in 1972, John Feagin published his 2-year results for ACL repairs, with 25/30 of his patients showing good outcomes.1 After 5 years, however, the situation had deteriorated, with 28/30 (94%) reporting instability. He bravely published these follow-up results, and this shifted the American focus away from ACL repair. For me, therefore, the 1976 article by Feagin and Curl2 was a classic of its type. It was honest and timely, because it did not just celebrate an early success, but pointed out what eventually had to count as failure.
At that time, European research was concentrating on ACL reconstruction.3–5 John Feagin crossed the Atlantic and studied these alternative techniques. He realised the importance of international research and the benefits of international collaboration, and he subsequently convinced the AAOSM leadership to begin a travelling fellowship with ESSKA. As John told me, ‘the idea of the fellowship was born during a drink in a restaurant, the Walliser Kanne in Basel, with Werner Muller. With pure innocence and serendipity we discussed the value of an exchange fellowship’. As the newest and youngest member of the AOSSM Board he had to defend the idea, but he managed it: the mother of all travelling fellowships was born!
Many other fellowships followed. ISAKOS now has three prestigious travelling fellowships for the Upper Extremity, the Patellofemoral and the Watanabe Arthroscopic Travelling Fellowship. These are complemented by the ISAKOS Young Investigators Scholarship and Research Mentoring Programme.
Such programmes enable our younger sports-medicine orthopods to improve their skills and knowledge-base, to network internationally and, especially, to create life-long friendships. In ISAKOS' last newsletter, for instance, there are enthusiastic reports from Peru, Namibia, India, the UK, Brazil and Nigeria. A small survey in the editorial board of JISAKOS shows that all of us participated in intercontinental fellowship programmes either as fellow, host, or as godfather (and sometimes all three).
In 1986, my own hospital, the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, was one of the hosts to the very first fellowship, with John Feagan as godfather and Bruce Reider (now Editor-in-Chief of AJSM), Lonny Paulos and Bill Garret as fellows. As the local organiser, I decided to lodge the fellows at our residents’ houses. I have fond memories of preparing airbeds and breakfasts for our guests.
‘We look at the same thing but see something different’. These travelling fellowships and scholarship programmes help us to align and speak the same scientific language, across the whole world. This is also one of the objectives of JISAKOS. With our State-of-the-Art and Review articles, we are searching for common ground. I invite you to read, and hopefully you will see what I see: a solid scientific background, which will support your own practice and help to improve your patient-care.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.