Jacquelin Perry, MD, DSc (Hon), FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

Jacquelin Perry, MD, DSc (HON), FAOA

Jacquelin Perry, MD, DSc (Hon), FAOA is being honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for her significant contributions to orthopaedics and the understanding of the human gait and movement including all forms of functional assists from canes, to crutches, braces and wheelchairs. Her 1992 book, “Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function,” became a standard text for orthopaedists, physical therapists and other rehabilitation professionals. Dr. Perry was a leader in treating paralyzed polio patients and patients with post-polio syndrome and was considered the world authority on gait analysis. The champions for this effort on her behalf are Serena S. Hu, MD, FAOA, Lisa L. Lattanza, MD, FAOA, Terrance D. Peabody, MD, FAOA and Ann E. Van Heest, MD, FAOA.


Dr. Perry received her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1940. Next, she joined the army and trained to be a physical therapist, receiving a certificate from Walter Reed Army General Hospital in Washington, D.C. She completed a two-year assignment at Hot Springs, Arkansas, and that military experience gave her a strong background in poliomyelitis and arthritis. After World War II, she used the G.I. Bill to study medicine and became the first woman orthopaedic surgeon to graduate from the University of California, San Francisco. In 1959, the Los Angeles Times voted Dr. Perry the “Woman of the Year for Medicine in Southern California.”

For more than 60 years she worked at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, CA. In 1968, she founded the Pathokinesiology Laboratory at Rancho Los Amigos to analyze the biomechanics of walking. She taught at the University of Southern California’s medical school from 1972 to the late 1990s.

She has received many honors and awards throughout her career. A significant orthopaedic pioneer and noted “Grand Dame of Orthopaedics,” Dr. Perry was instrumental in founding the Scoliosis Research Society (1966) and the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (1983). Together with Dr. Vernon Nickel she developed the halo for spine, head, and neck immobilization, which aided in upright positioning for polio patients.

In 1996, the Jacquelin Perry Neuro-Trauma Institute and Rehabilitation Center at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center was dedicated to Dr. Perry. This center is one of the nation’s most advanced rehabilitation patient care facilities. The Perry Initiative, a non-profit organization for encouraging high school girls to enter the fields of orthopaedic surgery and engineering, was established in her name. Over her seven-decade career, numerous patients and physicians benefited from Dr. Perry’s clinical and surgical care, research, writing, teaching, and mentoring.

The AOA gratefully acknowledges Dr. Perry’s extensive and comprehensive impact on the orthopaedic community and recognizes her as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


“I was fortunate in my career to witness Dr. Jacquelin Perry teaching physical therapists and medical students in the gait lab. Her depth of knowledge and direct style was instructional and encouraging. Having met her in the hospital, it was inspiring to see Dr. Perry’s name, this icon of orthopaedics, many times as I performed chart reviews for my research projects and to know that she operated on many of the patients at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

Dr. Perry performed landmark work on neuromuscular conditions, particularly polio, which greatly influenced how neuromuscular conditions are treated today. She was an early pioneer in the use of the halo-vest which completely changed patient care for cervical trauma and other neuromuscular conditions. Her reputation as a no-nonsense, brilliant clinician and research was a model to aspire to!”  

– Serena S. Hu, MD, FAOA
Dr. Perry’s Champion


“Dr. Perry authored more than 400 publications and was a teacher and mentor to countless residents, fellows, faculty and students in both orthopaedic surgery and physical therapy. Through her research and inquiry she taught our profession more about functionality than anyone else. She was a skilled surgeon and compassionate physician who pioneered operations that saved the lives of polio patients and then improved their function later in life. Dr. Perry was my first mentor in orthopaedic surgery and the only female orthopaedic surgeon that I would meet for many years. I met her when I was working as a research Physical Therapist at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic where Dr. Perry served as the research consultant. She is the one who encouraged me to go to medical school to become an orthopaedic surgeon. It was a dream come true for me to have the opportunity to work with her. 

I had nearly memorized her gait analysis book as a PT student so she was an orthopaedic “rock star” to me. She was one of the most creative thinkers and prolific researchers that I have ever met yet she always had time to listen, give advice and inspiration. Dr. Perry was not only a mentor but also a sponsor. She followed my career and knew where I was and what I was doing even though we had lost touch for several years. It was a gift getting to spend time with her again in later years as the Perry Initiative was launched. She truly loved interacting with the high school and medical students and even spent one afternoon autographing saw bones for the students and faculty that day at their request. She mentored, inspired and shared her knowledge and expertise with several generations of orthopaedic surgeons in her illustrious 60+ year career.” 

– Lisa L. Lattanza, MD, FAOA, FAAOS
Dr. Perry’s Champion


“I had the distinct honor and privilege, though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, to work with and be taught by Dr. Perry. She dedicated her life to the study of movement and to improving the lives of patients who, as the result of congenital and acquired conditions, faced  lifelong disabilities. She was a passionate teacher who touched the lives of thousands. I was both a primary and secondary mentee of Dr. Perry, benefiting from both her knowledge and experience but also that of a cadre of important individuals in my career whom she had mentored including Drs. Mary Ann Keenan, Mark Hoffer and Christopher Jordan. Dr. Perry inspired us to ask the tough questions and seek the answers through careful observation and critical analysis. Her dedication and focus were unmatched. I was fortunate to have known her.”

– Terrance D. Peabody, MD, FAOA
Dr. Perry’s Champion


“As a female pioneer in orthopaedic surgery, Dr. Jacquelin Perry is a role model for us all. She is truly an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession as a leader in ‘her-story’ within orthopaedics.”

– Ann E. Van Heest, MD, FAOA
Dr. Perry’s Champion

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.