Erik Johnson enlisted in the Army in 1996. As a young Private, while stationed in Germany, he was involved in a car accident where he sustained second and third degree burns to over 20% of his body, most of which were on his arms and hands. He decided to become an Occupational Therapist because of the influence from the OT that treated his burns.
The Army sent him to school where he studied Occupational Therapy from 2000 to 2005, earning his Masters of Science in OT from the University of Central Arkansas. Licensed in early 2006, he spent his first two years as an OT at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, GA where he worked in behavioral health, ergonomics, inpatient rehab, and eventually specializing in Upper Extremity Orthopedics. While there, he was credentialed to be a Neuromusculoskeletal Upper Extremity Evaluator. Following his assignment to Georgia, MAJ Johnson served as a healthcare recruiter in Las Vegas where he was the subject matter expert on all things OT, PT, PA, and Dietitian for the 15 western United States. He used that time to Guest Lecture at OT schools across the US on all things Army OT.
In 2010, MAJ Johnson was tasked by the consultant to the Surgeon General to develop a pilot program where the primary mission would be to screen and treat mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) for the 173rd Brigade Combat Team. This would mark the first time in the history of war that a facility would be specifically dedicated to treating brain injury in a combat environment. From that program, 8 additional centers were stood up across Afghanistan with the specific mission of treating mTBI.
Johnson returned from Afghanistan in January of 2011 where he was tasked to develop another brain injury program that would evaluate executive dysfunction and functional performance in Service Members who were suffering from post-concussion syndrome and similar cognition related injuries.
Transitioning to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, MAJ Johnson served as the Chief of the Amputee section for Occupational Therapy from 2011 to 2013. In that role, he oversaw the evaluation and treatment of Service Members who sustained complex polytrauma that often resulted in multiple amputations with other co-morbitities ranging from brain injury, burns, and behavioral health.
When MAJ Johnson left Walter Reed, he saw his career come full circle as he was selected to serve as the Chief of Occupational therapy services for the Burn Center at the Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas. This was the same burn center where he was originally treated as a young private.
After his time in the Army, Major Johnson has taken on several projects that directly impact veterans with a focus on successful re-entry to civilian life after discharge from the military. He is currently volunteers as the Chief Medical Officer for Operation Supply Drop, an organization that serves Veterans by building strong communities through gaming and team building. His work on the therapeutic benefits of video games have been widely recognized in both the Medical and Video Game communities. Erik also is one of the founders for IDEGO, a company that is developing treatment opportunities while using Virtual Reality with a focus on behavioral health disorders. The company uses Deferred Individualized Gradated Immersion Therapy (D.I.G.I.T) to achieve success. Most recently, Erik teamed up with another non-profit organization where he has been recently named their Chief Medical Officer. Working with Warfighter Engaged, their mission is to improve the lives of severely injured and disabled warfighters with custom adapted video game controllers, recreational items and other solutions to provide greater independence.
His military honors and awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (2OLC), Army Achievement Medal (1OLC), Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, NATO Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, Army Superior Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Non-commissioned officer Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Army Service Ribbon.
Major Johnson has presented nationally and internationally on a wide variety of occupational therapy related topics and has been featured in multiple publications including OT practice, the Journal of Hand Therapy, OT Today, and The Washington Post. He was awarded the Roster of Merit for the Maryland Occupational Therapy Association.