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November 1989

A Neurological Double Entente

Author Affiliations

Institute of Neurology Queen Square London WC1N 3BG, England

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(11):1167. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520470017013

To the Editor.  —Joseph François Babinski (1857-1932), who "recognized the muscle spindle for what it was, distinguished neuropathic from myopathic muscle lesions [and] recognized the hallmarks of the muscular dystrophies,"1 is best remembered, however, for the clinical sign that bears his name.1,2 While Mademoiselle Caricature by Georges Villa (1911)8 (Ceci Est Mon Cygne [This Is My Swan]). Dejerine claimed that Alfred Vulpian (1826-1887) had previously pointed out to her the extension of the great toe in paraplegics,3 it was undoubtedly Babinski who first realized its clinical significance. He described two components of the complete response, namely the dorsiflexion of the great toe ("le phénomène des orteils"4,5 ["phenomenon of the toes"]) and the spreading of the toes ("le signe de l'éventail"6,7 ["sign of the fan"]).The accompanying caricature8 (Figure) was shown as part of a recent exhibition at the Musée de l'Assistance Publique in Paris

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