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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A history of Todd and his paralysis.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the history of Robert Bentley Todd (1809-1860) and certain of his contributions to medicine, including his original and subsequent descriptions of "epileptic hemiplegia," which came to be called "Todd's paralysis." METHODS: The author conducted a comprehensive review of English-language literature, modern and historical, related to "Todd's paralysis" and examined Todd's original case histories and commentary by Todd, his contemporaries, and his successors. RESULTS: Todd held that some patients "who recover from a severe fit, or from frequently repeated fits of epilepsy, are often found to labor under hemiplegia, or other modifications of palsy." He believed that this resulted from "undue exaltation. [resulting in] a state of depression or exhaustion." Interestingly, Todd was the first to present an electrical theory of epilepsy, supported by his own animal experimentation, well before his better-known successor John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911) (famous for his investigations of partial epilepsies and the eponymous "Jacksonian march"). CONCLUSION: Many neurologists and investigators followed Todd in acknowledging transient postictal paralysis as a distinct clinical entity. Yet whether the pathophysiology of "Todd's paralysis" is related to "neuronal exhaustion" or excessive inhibition is still controversial.[1]


  1. A history of Todd and his paralysis. Binder, D.K. Neurosurgery (2004) [Pubmed]
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