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December 1969

Bell's Palsy and Bell's Phenomenon

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;21(6):661-662. doi:10.1001/archneur.1969.00480180117012

IT SEEMS appropriate that Sir Charles Bell (1774 to 1842) should have described the syndrome and the phenomenon that now bear his name.1-4 He was trained in anatomy, surgery, and art; he made a detailed study of facial expression; he discovered the separate actions of the trigeminal and facial nerves; and because of these interests, he saw an unusual number of patients with facial paralysis in his clinical practice.

Early in the course of his medical education in Edinburgh, Charles Bell received instruction from his older brother John, one of the foremost anatomists and surgeons of the time. His contribution to John's textbook of anatomy5 was one of the first of Charles' numerous publications, which included textbooks and atlases of neuroanatomy and surgery. A gifted artist, he illustrated many of these works himself.

Bell's training in anatomy and his interest in art led him to a comprehensive