By Thomas Schlick
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Additional info for Surgery, Science and Industry: A Revolution in Fracture Care, 1950s-1990s
Müller was very much a visionary, but not everybody was prepared to believe in his visions. When he first began propagating his ideas of systematic fracture care, the surgical and orthopaedic establishment did not take him seriously. This might be due in part to his youth and the fact that Müller was not as adroit in presenting his techniques as in inventing and using them. A further reason was his unusual combination of interest in both general surgery and orthopaedic surgery which caused problems of disciplinary affiliation.
He was a committed surgical teacher and had a strong interest in basic science. On the basis of his earlier experience, it took no great leap of faith for the Liestal head surgeon to adopt the osteosynthesis methods suggested by Müller. 8 In October 1956, just after he had returned from a journey to Böhler’s clinic in Vienna, Maurice Müller brought together his five friends for a three-day instruction course on stable osteosynthesis. Assembled at the Balgrist, the group now pondered the thought of creating an equivalent of the Böhler school devoted to operative fracture treatment.
32 The social principle of the early AO was a very traditional type of relationship that encouraged face-to-face interaction between members. But at the same time the AO was a distinctively modern association of medical experts whose aim was to promote a scientific approach to surgery. This apparent discrepancy points to a more general issue underlying the group’s structure: As historian of science Steven Shapin puts it, the importance of face-to-face interaction for modern science is often underestimated.