ALFRED S. TAYLOR was born in 1868, in South Manchester, Connecticut, son of John and Sarah Taylor.
Dr. Taylor was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy, with honors, from Brown University in 1891. In 1892, he received a Master’s degree, also from Brown University. He received his M.D. degree in 1895, from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he was among the first 10 in his class and was the first recipient of the Harsen Prize. He served his internship in New York Hospital from 1895-1897, and then entered private practice with Robert F. Weir, William T. Bull, and Frank Hartley. In 1905, he entered the field of neurosurgery.
From 1910-1930, Dr. Taylor was Professor of Clinical Surgery (Neurology Department) at Cornell University Medical College. He was also Instructor and later Assistant Professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and a Lecturer on neurosurgery.
Dr. Taylor wrote many papers in the fields of general and neurological surgery. Soon after joining the staff of the Neurological Institute of New York, he became an expert in the treatment of spinal injuries and tumors, particularly those affecting the cervical portion of the spinal cord.
He practiced a method of closed reduction of cervical subluxation by halter traction that was successfully used before tong traction techniques were instituted. His technique involved slowly progressive halter traction accomplished with ease and without fatigue on the part of the surgeon by fashioning a longtailed halter that extended as a large loop back of the supine patient’s head. The surgeon stood within this loop, and maintained the desired amount of traction by leaning backwards against the loop. At the same time he could manually alter the position of the head and neck, as necessary, to reduce the dislocation. A cast was then usually applied to the patient.
Dr. Taylor was the first to practice and advocate hemilaminectomy. For this he designed special rongeurs, novel in their day, that led to present improved designs of similar instruments.
In 1907, Dr. Taylor married Lucy Weeks. Their only child was daughter, Helen Gelsey Taylor.
Dr. Alfred S. Taylor died on January 16, 1942, in New York.