Concept

Joseph Babinski

Summary
Joseph Jules François Félix Babinski (Józef Julian Franciszek Feliks Babiński; 17 November 1857 – 29 October 1932) was a French-Polish professor of neurology. He is best known for his 1896 description of the Babinski sign, a pathological plantar reflex indicative of corticospinal tract damage. Born in Paris, Babinski was the son of a Polish military officer, Aleksander Babiński (1824–1889), and his wife Henryeta Weren Babińska (1819–1897), who in 1848 fled Warsaw for Paris because of a Tsarist reign of terror instigated to stall Polish attempts at achieving independence and breaking the union between Congress Poland and the Russian Empire. Babinski received his medical degree from the University of Paris in 1884. He came early to Professor Charcot at Paris' Salpêtrière Hospital and became his favorite student. Charcot's 1893 death left Babinski without support, and he subsequently never participated in qualifying academic competitions. Free of teaching duties, while working at the Hôpital de la Pitié he was left with ample time to devote himself to clinical neurology. He was a masterful clinician, minimally dependent on neuropathological examinations and laboratory tests. Babinski also took an interest in the pathogenesis of hysteria and was the first to present acceptable differential-diagnostic criteria for separating hysteria from organic diseases, and coined the concept of pithiatism. In 1914, Babinski introduced the important concept of ‘anosognosia’ to name a disorder characterized by denial of illness or lack of awareness of disability. In 1896, at a meeting of the Société de Biologie, Babiński, in a 26-line presentation, delivered the first report on the "phenomène des orteils", i.e., that while the normal reflex of the sole of the foot is a plantar reflex of the toes, an injury to the pyramidal tract will show an isolated dorsal flexion of the great toe—"Babinski's sign." During World War I, Babinski had charge of many traumatic neurology cases at the Pitié Hospitals. He was professor of neurology at the University of Paris.
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