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It has been occasionally observed in cases of sudden death after great and prolonged muscular tension and excitement that the body becomes instantaneously rigid in the position assumed at the moment of dissolution; thus a soldier is killed in action and remains fixed in the position of firing his piece, a lunatic after a prolonged period of excitement is found dead in the exact attitude of a convulsion or some other equally striking condition. Few have probably had the opportunity to observe this phenomenon, but its occurrence is incontestible though it has received little mention in physiologic or medico-legal treatises. Its explanation is not altogether easy on the usual theories of rigor mortis, notwithstanding the fact that the essential conditions are, in part at least, the same. There is the same muscular rigidity lasting a longer or shorter time and probably the coagulation of the myosin, which is assumed to
CADAVERIC SPASM.. JAMA. 1898;XXX(16):923-924. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.02440680043003