The question of the reflex functions of the spinal cord in man, as one so often discovers in reviewing neurophysiologic matters, is one in which even incomplete elucidation has been surprisingly recent. Until the last decade of the last century, despite the comparative frequency with which injuries and other lesions produce physiologically and even anatomically complete division of the spinal cord, the clinical manifestations, as reflected by the reflexes, had not been accurately recorded. It was generally understood that the great motor pathways exert an inhibitory influence on the deep reflex arcs of the lower extremities and that transverse destruction of the spinal cord should therefore result in exaggeration of such reflexes.
In 1890 Bastian1 made the first important contribution in regard to correcting this conception. He stated that a complete lesion in the lower cervical or upper dorsal levels resulted in flaccidity of the limbs and absence of
OLDBERG E. THE REFLEXES IN THE PROGNOSIS OF TRANSVERSE LESIONS OF THE SPINAL CORD. JAMA. 1938;110(2):104-106. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790020018006