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Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London, 14–16 November 2007
ABN Medallist 2007
Professor Richard Langton-Hewer
In this citation I hope to show that Richard is and always was a man ahead of his time. He practiced through his clinical activities principles that were at the time unusual, but that are now becoming mainstream. He has advanced the interests of this association greatly in this way.
I first met Richard about 30 years ago when I became a registrar in neurology at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK. I had not previously done any neurology. Richard’s practice convinced me to pursue a career in neurology and specifically neurological rehabilitation, a career choice I have never regretted for one minute. I will explain what characteristics inspired me then, and still inspire me.
Richard has always been primarily concerned with the experience of the patient—what do they worry about, what do they want to know, how can we make life better for this person? He was patient centred when much of medical practice was still professionally driven and centred. Two examples will suffice.
He became interested in people with Friedreich’s ataxia as a registrar, not simply in relation to the neurobiology and clinical presentation, but also in relation to the concerns of the families and patients. He set up what was probably one of the earliest disease specific support groups and was the chairman of the Friedreich’s Ataxia Group for many years.
Secondly, by 1978 he was running a follow-up clinic for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) where the main focus was on the practical problems of living with this disease. In 1980 he started collecting data on activities of daily living (ADL) using the Barthel ADL index on every patient with MS. In so doing he discovered that faecal incontinence was quite common in the patients attending. Although these patients had been attending for some time, this fact …