December 15, 1924

(Stratford, Ontario)


May 10, 2010


MD, University of Toronto (1947)

Awards & Honours:

1998: Companion of the Order of Canada

1997: F.N.G. Starr Medal, Canadian Medical Association

See All Awards
Picture of Robert Salter, MD

Established innovative methods of orthopedic treatment

Portrait of Robert Salter

World renowned surgeon, teacher and scientist

With a distinguished career that spanned more than fifty years, Dr. Robert Salter was a world famous surgeon who pioneered surgical procedures that ultimately transformed the field of Pediatric Orthopaedics. His innovative research related to the musculoskeletal system contributed immeasurably to the understanding and prevention of degenerative arthritis, among other musculoskeletal disorders. In addition to his innovative surgical techniques, Dr. Salter was committed to patient care and was known for his compassionate interactions with his patients, especially with children and their families.

Key Facts

Published extensively on many aspects of bone disease and repair 

Was a compelling speaker and delivered lectures around the world

Co-devised a widely accepted fracture classification system that bears his name

Established the first clinical fellowship program at The Hospital for Sick Children

The SickKids Foundation annually awards the R.B. Salter Award for Excellence in Orthopedic Education

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

The Salter procedure forever changed pediatric hip surgery as a successful treatment for a condition that was once considered a devastating disease. Now the standard intervention for childhood hip dysplasia, the procedure has also proved an effective treatment for Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. Beyond this contribution, Salter’s concept of “Continuous Passive Motion” has been translated into numerous clinical applications throughout the world and had a profound effect on the understanding and treatment of various musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.  

Picture of Robert Salter, MD


  • 1995 Inductees posing for photo

    Robert Salter inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    Pictured L-R: Inductees Charles Leblond MD, Herbert Jasper MD PhD, Michael Smith PhD, Henry Barnett MD, Robert Salter MD at ceremony in London, Ontario

  • Salter retired from surgery at SickKids

    He continued to research, write and see patients as orthopedic surgeon emeritus as well as senior scientist emeritus at the Research Institute for The Hospital for Sick Children.

  • Witnessing severe pain and long recoveries after immobilization, Dr. Robert Salter became an advocate for his innovative concept of “Continuous Passive Motion” in post-operative recovery

    Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints, Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints

    He demonstrated that continuous motion after surgery facilitated the proper healing of joints. This technique also proved to significantly reduce the likelihood of patients developing osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that commonly occurs after physical trauma due to surgery.

  • Salter authored the key textbook in the field of orthopaedic surgery, Disorders and Injuries of the Musculoskeletal System

    The text is now considered a classic in the field of orthopaedics and medical education.

  • Dr. Robert Salter pioneered the innominate osteotomy, a corrective surgical procedure for the treatment of hip dysplasia in children and young adults

    Skin, Bones, Muscles & Joints

    This corrective surgery became known as the “Salter Operation.”

  • Salter returned to Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children where he came under the influence of pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. William Mustard.

    Two years later, he was appointed Chief of Orthopedic Surgery. In 1966, Salter rose to the position of Surgeon-in-Chief.

  • Salter graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto

    He then spent the Following two years at the Grenfell Medical Mission in Newfoundland and Labrador.


He is one of the most outstanding University of Toronto scientists of the 20th century.