n South African Medical Journal - Reflections : Requiem for Babinski : forum

Volume 100, Issue 8
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



With the arrival of the total body scanner and the ubiquitous ultrasound machine, I wonder if I really need to continue examining my patients? Should I discard my patella hammer and tuning fork and just bring my laptop and personal digital assistant to work? What would Charcot, Rhomberg or Babinski think of all those computer printouts revealing the answers in black and white, without having to touch the patient? Babinski would probably have dropped his patella hammer in dismay. His full name was Joseph Jules François Félix Babinski, which suggests that he might have been a Russian aristocrat, and a skilled swordsman to boot - but he was in fact a French neurologist of Polish descent. He is remembered for the eponymously named Babinski reflex. He was also a gourmet. This is rather an inconsequential piece of information, but I like to imagine him, after a vigorous day of testing reflexes, sitting at a pavement café in Paris, savouring a light lemon soufflé and elegantly sipping from a glass of.

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