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October 1967

Babinski's Sign

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC
From the divisions of neurosurgery and neurology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Arch Neurol. 1967;17(4):441. doi:10.1001/archneur.1967.00470280107013

IN a series of short publications which began in 1896, Joseph Francois Félix Babinski described one of the most significant signs in clinical neurology—the pathological cutaneous plantar reflex.1-8 A similar reflex of the extensor hallicus longus had been mentioned earlier by Remak,9 but the astute observations of Babinski established its importance and stimulated many subsequent investigators to study its relation to dysfunction of the pyramidal system.

Babinski, a Parisian of Polish parentage, was a thorough and methodical physician who made his greatest contributions in the area of clinical neurology. In his first two publications on the pathological plantar reflex, Babinski mentioned only the dorsiflexion of the toes,10,11 but in 1903 he added the "signe de l'éventail", or fanning of the toes.12,13 To illustrate the latter, Babinski cleverly demonstrated the sign of fanning of the toes in a photograph showing the shadow of the toes against

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