Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 7-9

Babinski the great: Failure did not deter him

Department of Neurology, Janakpuri Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Man Mohan Mehndiratta
Department of Neurology, Janakpuri Superspeciality Hospital, C2B Block, Janakpuri, New Delhi - 110 058
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.128522

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Joseph Babinski (1857-1932) was born on November 17, 1857. He worked in a clinical arena dominated by Charcot and a focus on hysteria. His primary aim was in trying to find the reliable clinical signs to distinguish organic from non-organic disease of the nervous system. He was considered as masterly diagnostician, relying considerably less on neuropathological reports. Babinski's first attention to the reflex of the toes occurred during a chance observation of the contrasting responses between two female patients, one a hysteric and the other a hemiplegic. He first published description of his famous "sign" in 1896. Babinski's love for research works could be gauzed from his desire to publish and by the age of 27 years, he had to this credit, 12 important articles, mainly concerned with histological and neurological themes and one of his articles on the basic description of muscle spindles was considered to be a significant one. He was awarded the doctorate degree in 1885. Babinski introduced the concept of pithiatism, meaning "curable by suggestion." He anticipated the emergence of neurosurgery in France and only 6 days prior to his death he is on record to have said that his most vital contribution to the cause of neurosciences was not the sign he described, but that he could goad Clovis Vincent and Martel to take up neurosurgery as a specialty.

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