The AANEM’s Scientific Impact Award recognizes mid-career members for serving as a first author, second author, or senior author on a published paper in a national or international peer-reviewed, indexed journal within the past 2 years. Andrea J. Boon, MD, has been named this year’s winner of the AANEM Scientific Impact Award for PMR.
Dr. Boon was awarded for her work as the senior author on a November 2018 article in Dovepress Journal of Pain Research
titled, “Sensitivity of high-resolution ultrasonography in clinically diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome patients with hand pain and normal nerve conduction studies.” Authors included Reza Salman Roghani, Mohammad Taghi Holisaz, Ali Asghar Sahami Norouzi, Ahmad Delbari, Faeze Gohari, Johan Lokk, and Andrea J. Boon.
Dr. Boon said it was a truly global effort.
“This manuscript was actually completed with a team from Iran, where my main role was being a mentor, refining the study protocol, reviewing the data, and writing the manuscript,” she said of her work. “I was happy to help with it, as I see a lot of cases in our EMG lab where patients present with quite typical carpal tunnel symptoms, but our NCS are negative (we use palmar orthodromic studies as our most sensitive test for the most part).”
Dr. Boon saw a way for this study to have a practical effect on her everyday work.
“This is a typical situation where I will also use neuromuscular ultrasound to measure the size of the median nerve. I often find the nerve is enlarged, sometimes only on the basis of an increased wrist forearm ratio, so I felt this was a good study to do, to evaluate when ultrasound can add to the patient’s workup in this setting,” said Dr. Boon.
Dr. Boon has introduced diagnostic ultrasound into the clinical and academic practice of the Mayo EMG lab, where over 12,000 patients undergo clinical neurophysiology testing annually. Her research has focused on the complementary role of NM ultrasound and EDX, with over 100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters. Her current research focus is quantitative muscle ultrasound which she hopes to integrate in to clinical practice as an imaging biomarker at the Mayo Clinic. She hopes to develop a painless method of detecting and following NM disease in children (such as Duchenne, SMA, and myopathy) using ultrasound.
“At Mayo I get to cover intraoperative monitoring, inpatient EMG including diaphragm studies, acute polyradiculopathies and myopathies, as well as outpatient EMG where we see a wide variety of cases such as myasthenia, ALS, channelopathies, etc. Helping to develop the neuromuscular ultrasound practice for our EMG lab has been a really good way to keep my job challenging and interesting as this field evolves,” said Dr. Boon. “Every day is a little different at work and that makes it fun despite the challenges of medicine in today’s environment. I feel very lucky to have a fulfilling career, where I get to not only work part time which gives me plenty of time to be a mom (my favorite job!), but also to have a varied work life where I divide my time between outpatient musculoskeletal medicine/ultrasound guided injections, and clinical neurophysiology.”
Dr. Boon believes anyone who wants to do research should find an area of interest and cultivate that into a number of manuscripts and ideas that truly furthers your topic. AANEM has been a great resource for her to further her efforts, and she hopes young physicians joining the field will also take advantage of this.
“Once I identified an area of interest (in this case neuromuscular ultrasound), it was so much easier to build from one project to the next. Once you identify such an interest, as a member of the AANEM, you have a great resource for reaching out to members who are already established in their respective fields and seeking out opportunities to collaborate on projects or even just get advice on which way to best direct your efforts,” she said.
Dr. Boon has served in a number of roles for the AANEM, including 18 years on the Professional Practice Committee, AANEM CPT and RUC advisor to the AMA, the Ultrasound Task Force, the Ultrasound Exam Committee, the Education Committee, the Awards Committee, and as a member of the Board of Directors.
“I really enjoy the networking opportunities that come out of membership – connecting with others with expertise in this area and being able to bounce ideas off each other, collaborate on research projects to further our field, and familiar faces to reconnect with at other meetings around the United States and overseas that I attend in the area of neuromuscular medicine,” Dr. Boon said.
Dr. Boon graduated from medical school in New Zealand before completing her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She completed a Clinical Neurophysiology fellowship in the Neurology department at Mayo Clinic. She has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 2000, with a joint appointment as Professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neurology departments. She is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR) and by the ABEM.