March 11, 2019

Lord Brain Demonstrates the Signs of Disseminated Sclerosis – The London Hospital, 1964

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:56 am by Aleksan

The Bearsted Theatre, London Hospital Medical College, Whitechapel, 1964

Clinical Demonstration – Disseminated Sclerosis by Lord Brain

I was in the first year at Medical School at the London Hospital (now the Royal London Hospital) mostly focussed on pre-clinical Studies, Anatomy and Physiology, so this invitation was too good to miss. I waited impatiently high up on one side of the Theatre for the great man, formerly Sir Russell Brain the country’s top Neurologist, to appear. He was a London Hospital man through and through, author of the textbook Brain and someone to be proud of.

Lord Brain appeared dressed in Morning Suit, black jacket and grey pin stripped trousers – and bowed. We all clapped. He then proceeded to bring in his specimen patients, regulars brought in from different parts of England with classic clinical signs of DS (later called Multiple Sclerosis). He tapped knees, pricked with a needle and bent arms and legs, showing us hyper-rigidity, spasms, sensory loss patterns, and loss of balance and coordination. He was polite and considerate to the patients, male and female, and brilliant at elucidating neurological signs and explaining their causes.

Finally after about two hours he bowed deeply – we all rose and clapped – a brilliant performance by a great man – I felt privileged to have been there, but little did I know that within a few years I was to be diagnosed with DS myself – that is another story which I have told before, although my diagnosis has been modified in the last few years. Lord Brain was an inspiration, the Old School at its best, and I have never forgotten this great occasion, or the top man – Brain by name and Brain was his business. Do such events still occur at Medical Schools? No, not like this noble piece of History.

Dr Alexander Burnfield MBBS DPM FRCPsych

London Hospital Medical College 1963 – 68

Formerly House Surgeon to the Neurosurgical Unit, the London Hospital and now Retitred Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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