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Brown, John Ball (1784–1862)

John Ball Brown, pioneer orthopedist of America, son of Dr. Jabez Brown of Wilmington, Massachusetts, was born in that town October 20, 1784.

Graduating from Brown University in 1806, he studied medicine with Dr. E. A. Holyoke (q.v.) and Dr. Moses Little at Salem and began practice in Dorchester in 1809 but returned to Boston in 1812, shortly after (1814) marrying the third daughter of Dr. John Warren (q.v.).

He was appointed surgeon and physician to the Boston Almshouse in 1817 and associate surgeon to the Massachusetts General Hospital when that institution was organized, while in later years he became consulting surgeon.

In 1838 Dr. Brown began to devote his attention especially to orthopedics, a new specialty, being the first to introduce it to this country. He was the first in America to do subcutaneous tenotomy and had a wide reputation in the treatment of wry-neck, club-foot and spinal curvature, patients seeking his aid from places so remote as the Sandwich Islands.

Dr. Brown was said to have great mechanical ingenuity in the invention and application of special surgical apparatus. He was assiduous in following up his patients, who were treated for the most part in his orthopedic infirmary, the first of its sort in Boston, and was an occasional writer for the medical journals on subjects connected with his specialty. In 1839 he republished from the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, "Remarks on the Operation for the Cure of Club-feet, with Cases."

He died May 14, 1862, aged seventy-nine years, being succeeded in the practice of orthopedics in Boston by his son, Buckminster Brown.

Obit. Commun. Mass. Med. Society, 1861–1866, vol. x.