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Polio treatment pioneer Perry dies

March 15, 2013 at 3:33 PM   |   Comments

DOWNEY, Calif., March 15 (UPI) -- Dr. Jacquelin Perry, who pioneered surgery that helped paralyzed polio survivors regain mobility, has died in California, colleagues said. She was 94.

Perry's death at her home in Downey was announced by Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, with which she had been affiliated since 1955, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Perry began performing spinal surgeries on polio victims in the 1950s to help them regain some movement and mobility, eventually becoming a leading authority on post-polio treatments.

"She was a giant, a revered figure in her field," Greg Waskul, executive director of the rehabilitation center's foundation, said. "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."

Perry had served as a physical therapist, treating polio patients in the Army during World War II, and then went on to study medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, before joining Rancho Los Amigos.

"Most doctors go into medicine to save lives. I'm more interested in getting handicapped persons functioning again," she said in 1959, when she was honored by the Times as the Woman of the Year in science.

Perry became a pioneer in analysis of the human gait, publishing a definitive textbook on the subject while in her 70s.

Perry, who had Parkinson's disease but was still practicing up to her death, never married and had no immediate survivors, the Times reported.

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