It’s rare to see Rocco A. Armonda, MD, sitting still. When he’s not splitting time between MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as director of Neuroendovascular surgery, Dr. Armonda can often be found training for his next triathlon (he’s done 25 of them, plus 10 marathons), or gathering equipment for his family’s next camping trip.
Dr. Armonda’s propensity for near-perpetual motion isn’t just the result of physical fitness habits adopted during his 31-year military career. It’s also his way of setting a positive example of maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle that allows for daily exercise, sleep, and healthy food choices. And exercise benefits the literal nerve center of his chosen discipline—the brain. Exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells and improves cognitive ability.
A 1986 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Dr. Armonda says his interest in neurosurgery arose from an early fascination with neuroanatomy in medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, under Professor Malcolm Carpenter, MD, author of Core Text of Neuroanatomy.
And Dr. Armonda adds, "neurosurgery rotations during my internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center convinced me that this was the field I wanted to be in.”
Dr. Armonda’s specific focus is on Cerebrovascular disease—the treatment of cerebral aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, intracranial hemorrhage and ischemic stroke using both open microsurgical and neuroendovascular techniques. He also provides neurotrauma and neurocritical care in the advancement of treatment of traumatic brain injury.
“When I see patients return to the office with their family after having survived a life-threatening stroke or hemorrhage, and return to normal activities, it is one of the most rewarding activities of my day,” says Dr. Armonda.. He says he’s benefited from several mentors throughout his career and adds “their central theme is that of service to others in the practice of their art, and always perfecting their art to its highest level as an expression of who we are.”
That’s one reason why Dr. Armonda’s races often double as fundraising events. His participation in the 2015 Boston Marathon helped generate donations to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s programs for military veterans, and for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing incident. Contributions in support of his participation in the 2013 and 2014 Patriot’s Half Ironman triathlon in Williamsburg, Va., benefited the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
In addition, Dr. Armonda is Chairman-Elect for “ThinkFirst,” a national foundation dedicated to preventing head and spinal cord injuries. He also serves on the boards for The Bob Woodruff Foundation for Combat Veterans and Families, and the Henry Jackson Foundation for Military and Civilian Medical Advancements.