Jacquelin Perry passed away at her home in Downey, California, on March 11, 2013, at ninety-four years of age. She was born in Denver, Colorado, and was raised in Los Angeles. In high school, she won countywide medals in many sports, and she remained a vigorous athlete as a young adult. Her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, was in education, and she initially planned to teach English and physical education. That plan changed with the Second World War, when she joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Walter Reed Hospital to study physical therapy. She spent five years as a physical therapist in the Army, where she also began teaching musculoskeletal anatomy. After the war, she attended the University of California, San Francisco, where she obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1950 and completed her orthopaedic residency in 1955. It was at that institution, as a student of Dr. Verne Inman, that she developed an interest in the science of gait analysis.
After residency, Dr. Perry joined Dr. Vernon Nickel at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Southern California, where she would remain as an active surgeon for thirty-eight years and as an attending clinician at the weekly sessions for the rest of her life. Her first patients were children who were respiratory challenged and afflicted with paraplegia as a result of polio. Eventually she cared for adults who were afflicted with paraplegia as a result of spinal cord injuries, patients with cerebral palsy, and other patients who also required orthopaedic surgery and a team approach to care. She developed new tendon-transfer techniques for the upper and lower extremities of patients with paralyzed limbs. Spinal fusion was necessary for many of her patients, requiring newer methods that she helped develop, including the halo device. Dr. Perry applied the science of gait analysis to the preoperative planning and postoperative evaluation of her patients. A pathokinesiology laboratory was developed to study and teach gait analysis. Her classic textbook, Gait Analysis, was published in 1992.
Dr. Perry was a Professor of Orthopaedics and of Physical Therapy at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She was the author of more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals and books. She was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards in addition to being named “Woman of the Year for Medicine in Southern California” by the Los Angeles Times in 1959 and receiving the Kappa Delta Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society in 1976. The Perry Initiative, a fund for encouraging high school girls to enter the fields of orthopaedic surgery and engineering, was recently established in honor of Jacquelin Perry.
Perhaps Jacquelin Perry’s major contribution to our specialty was as a teacher and mentor. We will not forget her lessons or her example as a role model.
Photograph reproduced with kind permission of EA Photography, Anaheim, California.