Adolf Kussmaul (1822-1902), and the naming of "poliomyelitis".

Journal: Journal Of The History Of The Neurosciences

In most parts of the developed world today, the neurological diagnosis of poliomyelitis is discussed only as a historical curiosity. For decades an epidemic cause for lameness and paralysis in infected children, reported cases of polio plummeted following the introduction of effective vaccines against the causative virus in the 1950s and 1960s. Much has been written of the trials and successes of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, but little is generally known about how the disease was originally named. In an authoritative reference work on the History of Poliomyelitis (1971), John R. Paul attributed in passing the coining of the term "poliomyelitis" to the celebrated German clinician Adolf Kussmaul (1822-1902). Kussmaul is widely known to physicians today for several unrelated contributions, but none of his authorized biographers have mentioned his naming the disease. In this historical review article, we set out to verify the claim that Kussmaul coined the term "poliomyelitis," surveying in the process his broader contributions to neurology and medicine.

Relevant Conditions

Myelitis, Poliomyelitis

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