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February 1969

Little's Disease

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC
From the Divisions of Neurosurgery and Neurology, Duke University Medical Center, and the Durham Veterans Administration Hospital, Durham, NC.

Arch Neurol. 1969;20(2):217. doi:10.1001/archneur.1969.00480080117014

PRESENT concepts of infantile cerebral palsy are based largely on the ideas of the English physician, William John Little (1810-1894), and the form of cerebral palsy manifested by bilateral spasticity has become known as Little's disease.1-6 Afflicted with an equinus deformity of his own left foot, Little made significant contributions to the understanding of clubfoot and other orthopedic disorders.7,8 In 1861, he presented to the Obstetrical Society of London his classic monograph on cerebral palsy.

The pyramidal and extrapyramidal forms of cerebral palsy had been noted by physicians in random fashion for centuries.2,3 Little organized this information and related cerebral palsy to trauma, and especially to anoxia, occurring at the time of birth. His astute conclusions profoundly influenced subsequent thought about the nature of cerebral palsy. However, other etiologic factors have more recently been recognized, such as prenatal developmental malformations and kernicterus. Little erred in overemphasizing