Monday, 26 October 2009


From a very Anglo-American neurology?

A fascinating-looking article from the forthcoming issue of the prestigious journal
Annals of Neurology is flagged up by its Abstract, as follows:

Lanska, D.J. (2009) Historical perspective: Neurological advances from studies of war injuries and illnesses, Annals of Neurology, vol. 66, no 4, pp.:444-459

Early in the 20th century during the Russo-Japanese War and World War I (WWI), some of the most important, lasting contributions to clinical neurology were descriptive clinical studies, especially those concerning war-related peripheral nerve disorders (eg, Hoffmann-Tinel sign, Guillain-Barré-Strohl syndrome [GBS]) and occipital bullet wounds (eg, the retinal projection on the cortex by Inouye and later by Holmes and Lister, and the functional partitioning of visual processes in the occipital cortex by Riddoch), but there were also other important descriptive studies concerning war-related aphasia, cerebellar injuries, and spinal cord injuries (eg, cerebellar injuries by Holmes, and autonomic dysreflexia by Head and Riddoch). Later progress, during and shortly after World War II (WWII), included major progress in understanding the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injuries by Denny-Brown, Russell, and Holbourn, pioneering accident injury studies by Cairns and Holbourn, promulgation of helmets to prevent motorcycle injuries by Cairns, development of comprehensive multidisciplinary neurorehabilitation by Rusk, and development of spinal cord injury care by Munro, Guttman, and Bors. These studies and developments were possible only because of the large number of cases that allowed individual physicians the opportunity to collect, collate, and synthesize observations of numerous cases in a short span of time. Such studies also required dedicated, disciplined, and knowledgeable investigators who made the most out of their opportunities to systematically assess large numbers of seriously ill and injured soldiers under stressful and often overtly dangerous situations.

Towards a comprehensive history?

Of course this is only an Abstract and can hardly mention everyone and everything of significance that has come up in a fifteen-page article. Granting that, do you notice any omission(s)?

Where is Luriya (Luria, Lurija)? Come to that, where are Leont’ev and Zaporozhets? And didn’t the Central Powers/Axis come up with anything from two world wars in which they too had a ‘large number of cases’, ‘dedicated, disciplined, and knowledgeable investigators’ etc?

And it was not only European powers involved in the industrialised killing of the terrible wars of the twentieth century. Didn’t the Japanese, the Chinese, anybody, come up with a single thing to mitigate some of the hurt?

Is the Anglocentrism that has so often characterised the ‘scientific’ response to Conductive Education’s spread out into the Anglosphere really so general. There was I thinking that ‘real science’ would be above such parochialism.

And there was I advising that those advocating Conductive Education to its medical sceptics might advantageously include something beginning with ‘Well, you know Luriya…’. Are foreign-speaking types really so beyond the pale? Or are they just not coming up with the right kind of science? Not much benefit cleaving to the reputation of Luriya if he has dropped out of medical history* in your part of the world.

Maybe I just don’t get out enough nowadays.

Scrounging again

Of course, this is only an Abstract. Unfortunately, the full article is beyond my means.

Can anyone oblige?

And another thing

In the same issue of the Annals as the Abstract a further, briefer article (seemingly published anonymously) looks like it might shed some interesting light into another corner of the world of neurology and its Zeitgeist:

-- (2009) Media focus on 'miracle cure' for cerebral palsy pits science vs. hype. Annals of Neurology, vol. 66, no 4, pp.:A9-A11

No Abstracts are available for the ‘A’ pages but the item’s title suggests something intriguing, and rather nearer home for most advocates of Conductive Education.

Again, can anyone oblige?

* Presumably, given the generational shelf-life of ephemeral fads and fashions in psychology and education, it should not be long now before you might have to be thinking the same about Vygotskii (even the Anericanised Vygotsky with a -y).


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