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Jacquelin Perry Dies, Famed Polio Specialist Was 94

Mar 15, 2013 04:30 PM EDT

Dr. Jacquelin Perry, whose pioneering work on polio treatments earned her international acclaim, died at her home in California. She was 94.

Perry was a celebrated orthopedic surgeon who pioneered treatments to help polio patients regain movement. In the 1950s she developed a spinal fusion surgery to help paralyzed polio survivors regain some mobility.

Perry was a trailblazer in her field, The Los Angeles Times reported, she was known for her definitive analysis of the human gait, a subject she published a textbook on in the 1970s.

In 1959 the newspaper honored her as Woman of the Year in science. At the time she said "most doctors go into medicine to save lives. I'm more interested in getting handicapped persons functioning again."

During World War II, Perry served as a physical therapist in the Army.

Perry's death was announced by Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, an institution she has been affiliated with since 1955.

"She was a giant, a revered figure in her field," said Greg Waskul, executive director of the center's foundation, according to The Times. "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 suffered from Parkinson's disease but The Times reported she was still seeing patients as of last week. She died at her home in Downey, Calif.

She never married and had no immediate survivors.

She dedicated her life to work, but she probably would not have put it so.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've never worked," Perry said  to the L.A. Times  in 1999. "I do what I like to do."

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