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January 1994

The Importance of Spratling

Arch Neurol. 1994;51(1):82-86. doi:10.1001/archneur.1994.00540130116019

William P. Spratling made important contributions to American epileptology at the beginning of this century. He was the first medical superintendent of Craig Colony for Epileptics from 1893 to 1908, cofounder and president of the National Association for the Study of Epilepsy, and first editor of its scholarly journal, Transactions. During his tenure at Craig Colony, Spratling established standards for safe and humane public care of epileptics. He started the first American residency training program emphasizing epileptology. Spratling conducted the first American multicenter research on the causes of death in epilepsy. The dosage of bromide therapy, which he empirically determined, remains correct. In his book Epilepsy and Its Treatment, Spratling substantiated the cortical origin theory of epilepsy developed by Jackson and Gowers. He was the first American to postulate and investigate a biochemical etiology of generalized seizures in the absence of anatomic lesions. Despite signal accomplishments, his untimely, tragic death may explain why he remains obscure.