Grady A. Dugas

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Grady A. Dugas, M.D.
Born (1923-10-24)October 24, 1923
Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died March 25, 2007(2007-03-25) (aged 83)
Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana
Resting place
Roark Cemetery in Marion, Union Parish
Residence Marion, Louisiana
Alma mater

McNeese State University
Louisiana State University

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
Occupation Physician; Inventor
Spouse(s) Annie Jo Sehon Dugas (born 1928)

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

Denise D. Taylor

Grady A. Dugas M.D. (October 24, 1923 – March 25, 2007) 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, in northeast 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 Calcasieu Parish. In 1942, he left McNeese and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps He served in the European theater with the medical air evacuation unit stationed in England and France for the remainder of World War II.

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, 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.

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.

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. The locks sell for approximately $120.

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.

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".

Family and death[edit]

Dugas died in Monroe, Louisiana. 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.

Dugas is interred at Roark Cemetery in Marion.