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JOSEPH BABINSKI, BEYOND THE TOE SIGN–A TRIBUTE
  1. Nadeem Akhtar
  1. St George's Hospital, London

    Abstract

    Joseph Babinski is perhaps the most popular and remembered name in Neurology. There is no other eponym sign in clinical examination which is repeated in such a great frequency and recorded in medical notes all over the world every day. A genius in neurology who wrote over 200 papers on nervous disorders and had over 10 eponyms to his credit; however it is the toe sign that immortalised his name. Growing up amidst of Polish revolution he developed features of constitutional neurosis, and perhaps an element of obsession which contributed to his relentless research and phenomenal observations as a Neurologist. This untalkative loner had exceptional observational powers which led to thorough discussions of the neurological systemathology . Being a favourite student of Charcot, it was him who shaped his intellects and led him to the highest academic position. Secondary to countless political and institutional problems, Joseph Babinski did not succeed Charcot as the chair of diseases of the nervous system in the Paris Medical School. Babinski's failure to climb the academic ladder was to become of fundamental importance to French neurology. Free of teaching duties, Babinski's left with ample time to devote himself to clinical neurology hence leading to epoch making discoveries. Given the name of the author who described it, there are more than 30 “equivalents” to or rivals of Babinski's sign. However, Babinski's obituary in the Lancet concludes it well: None of Charcot's pupils are surer to be remembered for their achievements in the field of neurology”, perhaps this is now a established historical fact.

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