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Grady A. Dugas

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Grady A. Dugas, M.D.
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Dr. Grady A. and his wife, Annie Jo Sehon Dugas
Born(1923-10-24)October 24, 1923
Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA
DiedMarch 25, 2007(2007-03-25) (aged 83)
Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana
Resting placeRoark Cemetery in Marion, Union Parish
ResidenceMarion, Louisiana
Alma materMcNeese State University

Louisiana State University

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
OccupationPhysician; Inventor
Spouse(s)Annie Jo Sehon Dugas (married 1950-2007, his death)
ChildrenStephen Emile Dugas

David Rene Dugas, M.D.
Christopher L. Dugas, M.D.
Kenneth L. Dugas

Denise D. Taylor
Parent(s)Sona and Mildred Meyers Dugas

Grady A. Dugas, M. D. (October 24, 1923 – March 25, 2007),[1] was a Louisiana physician who invented the "Safer Automatic Wheelchair Wheel Locks", a patented device designed for those who sometimes forget to lock their wheelchairs. For four decades Dugas was engaged in a family medical practice in Marion in Union Parish, a part of the Monroe Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area of northeastern Louisiana.


Dugas was born in Sulphur in Calcasieu Parish in southwestern Louisiana to Sona Dugas (1894–1964) and the former Mildred Meyers (1900–1987). In 1941, he graduated from Sulphur High School as president of the senior class. He attended McNeese State University (then Junior College) in Lake Charles, the seat of government of Calcasieu Parish. In 1942, he left McNeese to join the United States Army Air Corps He served in the European Theater of Operations with the medical air evacuation unit stationed in England and France for the remainder of World War II.[2]

After World War II, he returned to college. In 1949, he graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and thereafter in 1953 from the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. After a year of internship at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, he moved with his wife, the former Annie Jo Sehon (1929-2011), a medical technologist whom he had married in 1950,[3] and infant son to Marion, where, in 1954, he joined Dr. Virgil Gully in the Marion Hospital-Clinic. After Gully left for health reasons, Dugas maintained the hospital until 1965, and thereafter the clinic and private practice until 1991.[2] His wife worked with him in the hospital.[3]

Medical practice[edit]

As the medical director of the Marion Nursing Home for some three decades, he became aware of the problem of wheelchair-related falls among semi-ambulatory patients who did not or could not remember to use manual brakes on their wheelchairs. Some patients in wheelchairs, particularly the elderly, have a tendency to fall and injure themselves when trying to stand because they fail to engage the manual locks. Dugas hence attempted to find a way to save these patients from potentially debilitating injuries. He began his experimentation with locking systems and procured his first patent (#5,203,433) on April 20, 1993. The wheelchair locks/brakes are made of stainless steel, and worked well but were heavy and had a tendency to require maintenance.[2]

In 1996, Dugas joined Bill Hoge of United Plastic Molders in Jackson, Mississippi, for further experimentation to improve the wheelchair locks/brakes. A second patent (# 5,984,334) was issued on November 29, 1999). Dugas and Hoge formed the corporation SAFER Automatic Wheelchair Wheel Locks of Mississippi, Inc.[4]

Discover magazine reported in 1993 how Dugas had used maggots to cure the bedsores of an 80-year-old male patient. Some of the sores were nearly an inch deep, and infection had set in. Conventional therapies, including antibiotics and surgery, had failed. Dugas told the magazine that he remembered his grandmother, who was diabetic, had undergone successful maggot treatment in the 1930s. He followed suit, and the man's sore healed within a month. Instead of facing amputation, the patient instead went into the hospital for skin grafts.[5]

In 1972, Marion named Dr. Dugas "Outstanding Citizen of the Year". On March 30, 1990, Marion declared "Dr. Dugas Day" with the presentation of special awards. In 2005, Union Parish proclaimed him the "Outstanding Citizen of the Year for Community Service".[2]

Family and death[edit]

Dugas died in Monroe in Ouachita Parish. The Dugases had a daughter, Denise (born 1958) of Monroe, who is married to Joel Graham Taylor (born 1954), and four sons, two of whom, David Rene Dugas (born 1954) of Monroe and Christopher L. Dugas (born 1956) of Buffalo, Missouri, are also physicians. The other sons are Stephen Emile Dugas (born 1953) of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kenneth L. Dugas (born 1956) of Plano, Texas.[2][6]

Dugas and his wife are interred at Roark Cemetery in Marion.[1]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Dr. Grady A. Dugas". Farmerville, Louisiana: Farmerville Gazette. March 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Dr. Grady A. Dugas". The Monroe News-Star. March 26, 2007. Archived from the original on February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Annie Jo Sehon Dugas". Monroe News-Star. March 31, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  4. "Safer Wheelchairs". saferwheelchairs.com. Archived from the original on May 17, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. Carl Zimmer (August 1, 1993). "The Healing Power of Maggots". Discover magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  6. "Annie Sehon and Grady Dugas". familytreemaker.genealogy.com. Retrieved February 18, 2015.

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