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Books, Journals, New Media
March 23/30, 2005

Spinal Injuries

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(12):1521-1525. doi:10.1001/jama.293.12.1523

This book catalogues nonoperative management for spinal injuries from antiquity through the 20th century. The wealth of detail on rehabilitation techniques and practitioners will interest rehabilitation specialists and students of the history of medicine. For example, in an effort to treat spinal dislocation, Avicenna in the 10th century trod on the kyphotic area, and Paré in the 16th century added external traction to local compression.

By contrast, the best part of the volume will benefit all physicians. The book shows how Sir Ludwig Guttmann created the world’s first comprehensive spine injury center. Prior to Guttmann’s trailblazing work, patients with spinal injuries were neglected, often suffered decubiti and urinary infections, and incurred mortality rates up to 60%. At the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Guttmann and his team gave these patients greatly diminished complication and mortality rates along with hope and dignity. Dr John Silver, who worked under Guttmann and went on to a career in spinal injury rehabilitation, is uniquely qualified to tell this important and uplifting story.

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