Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chales-Edouard Brown-Sequard

Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard
Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard (1817 - 1894) Widely traveled physician, born in Mauritius, for whom is named Brown-Sequard syndrome, which he was the first to describe. Brown-Sequard syndrome is a loss of sensation and motor function as a result of lateral hemisection of the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis and loss of sensation to touch & vibration on the same side of the injury and loss of sensation to pain and temperature on the other side. Brown-Sequard was an important contributor to the physiology of the nervous system and he was also one of the first to work on the physiology of the spinal cord. He also postulated the existence of substances released into the bloodstream causing effects on distant organs, chemicals which are now known as hormones. He also showed that the adrenal glands were essential for life, demonstrating that their removal resulted in quick death. In his old age, he created much controversy by claiming that injection of extracts from guinea pig testicles would prolong life, which was derisively termed Brown-Sequard elixer by fellow scientists. Brown-Sequard lived in poor and desperate circumstances for most of his life, immensely dedicated to his work, as shown by an example when he swallowed the vomits of cholera patients to investigate the effects of laudanum on the disease. He was also a modest man and extremely honest, once he rejected 200 pounds taking only his ordinary fee instead, and at another time declined an offer of ten thousand pounds to treat a boy in Italy saying that he was not the qualified person to treat the case. Brown-Sequard travelled widely in his lifetime, holding faculty positions in France, America and the UK. He also founded a number of influential academic journals, was a pioneer in the treatment of epilepsy - the first to suggest the use of bromide to control the disease, and has been called the father of endocrinology and organotherapy ("The Method of Brown-Sequard").


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