Jacquelin Perry Dies; Pioneered Surgery, Physical Therapy for Paralyzed Polio Patients

Jacquelin Perry died at the age of 94, leaving behind the legacy of developing the spinal fusion surgery that helped paralyzed polio patients regain mobility.

Perry, an orthopedic surgeon and also a physical therapist, developed the surgery in the 1950s and then worked with polio patients post-surgery to strengthen their muscles. She worked at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center for almost 60 years, during which 30 years she served as the chief of the Pathokinesiology Service.

Prior to working at Rancho Los Amigos National rehabilitation Center, for five years, Perry served as a physical therapist who trained at Walter Reed Army Hospital and practiced in the U.S. Army for five years.

Greg Waskul, executive director of the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Calif., said of Perry to the Los Angeles Times, "She was a giant, a revered figure in her field."

"Dr. Perry was so creative and innovative. Most of the great doctors have one specialty, but she came up with many new theories and exercises to keep people moving."

She was one of the first 10 women to be certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.

"The name Perry and the word movement are almost synonymous – we hear 'Perry,' and we think analysis of normal and abnormal movement of the trunk, upper extremity, and lower extremity and the restoration of movement through surgery, bracing, electrical stimulation, and exercise," said Rebecca L. Craik, editor in chief of Physical Therapy, the official publication of the American Physical Therapy Association, in a 2010 Physical Therapy Journal editorial.

Perry died in her home in Downey, Calif., and her death was announced by Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. She had Parkinson's disease later in her life.