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Fall 2023 Edition
Alumni & Friends Magazine

A Healing Touch

Dr. Andrew Yuan’s pioneering spirit in physiatry

Sarah Filipiak, BSJ '01, BS '23 | October 2, 2023


Over his 20-year career, Dr. Andrew Yuan, DO ’87, a prominent physiatrist in Fairfield, Connecticut, has concentrated on healing both the physical and emotional needs of his patients. A graduate of Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Yuan has overcome immense personal challenges and transformed countless lives.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, where his family had emigrated from China, Yuan arrived in the United States at 10 years old, when his father’s career in textiles sent the family throughout North America. His mother propelled his dream of being in medicine, he says, but that dream was brought to the brink of extinction when Yuan suffered a life-altering accident in which he lost an arm and a leg.

It’s given me the opportunity to realize that being different … as well as being somewhat challenged, is always good

“Any losses—including loss of culture, loss of family, as well as loss of physical capability—alter your perception, your confidence, as well as create a lack of resilience,” Yuan says. “You don’t know if you can climb from the pit we call the abyss. Thank God I was young. I never gave up my dreams. I had to reprogram, relearn and retrofit everything.

“But it’s given me the opportunity to realize that being different … as well as being somewhat challenged, is always good,” he reflects. “It keeps me on my toes and allows me to embrace the challenge with confidence, at the same time having a humble understanding that if it doesn’t turn out, it’s OK. Nobody has done this before.”


Yuan views his physical challenges as a sort of alchemy for his pursuit of a career in physiatry. “When I got into medical school, I was elated,” he says. “My treating physician who helped me overcome my disability was an orthopedist in rehabilitation. He said, ‘Andy, if you can get into medical school, I will take you out of the match and you will be our resident.’ It was a gift.”

Yuan’s approach to treating patients as a physiatrist goes beyond addressing physical symptoms. Given his osteopathic education, his chief focus is on a person’s overall well-being, understanding that each patient’s journey is unique. “The first thing I say to a patient in the hospital when the patient has had [an amputation is], ‘My job is not to replace your limb. My job is to protect the limb that you have so you don’t further damage it.’”

Dr. Andrew Yuan presents in a classroom

Dr. Andrew Yuan’s approach to caring for his patients is informed by his personal experience with a physical disability and his OHIO education. Photos by Ben Wirtz Siegel, BSVC ’02

While he acknowledges this idea is fundamental to osteopathic physiatry, Yuan notes such simplicity can be overlooked in the rush for more technologically advanced solutions to patient’s problems. “Patients want the newest technology in an artificial leg, but they [also need to] know how to walk with the other leg,” he says.

Yuan combats this technological disconnection in medicine during his time with patients, noting people seem increasingly hungry for a one-to-one connection. “Ninety to 95 percent of patients who come to see me know that I don’t use a computer,” he says. “They seek me out. They say, ‘You’re the first doctor who actually listened to my problem.’”

He credits his experience at OHIO with providing the basis for his heartfelt and insightful medical practice. “It feels like home,” he says of the University. “For a person who’s been different, who is looking for homes, this profession, this town has given me a home. That’s left an indelible memory for me.”