Semiology of Parkinson's disease in Arthur van Gehuchten's iconographic material

Anne JEANJEAN and Geneviève AUBERT
Department of Neurology, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Université Catholique de Louvain, Bruxelles, Belgium
anne.jeanjean AT

Today Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a wide range of motor as well as non-motor symptoms and signs. Motor signs are the most conspicuous, even to the layman, and it is no surprise that they were the first to be well characterized by the medical profession. Arthur Van Gehuchten (1861-1914) who was a neuroanatomist and a neurologist of repute recognized the potential of cinematography in capturing the various signs of neurological diseases as a didactic and documentation support. Patients with Parkinson’s disease occupy an important space in his didactic collection of moving pictures gathered before 1914 – and before the epidemics of encephalitis lethargica swept the world in 1916. Rest tremor is well documented, in the hands, the face, mouth and tongue. The typical posture and gait are demonstrated in several patients. The clinical features of bradykinesia, hypomimia and staring expression with decreased blinking, short slow steps and lack of arm swing when walking are remarkably illustrated. Micrographia is shown in a sample of handwriting, photographed on a glass plate. This collection of early twentieth century photographs and films forms a unique thesaurus of patients with a symptomatology unaffected by treatments such as levodopa. Indeed these treatments which have invaluable positive effects are accompanied by a range of motor complications which modify, sometimes considerably, the clinical presentation of patients.

Session V.  Movement Disorders
Friday, 23 June 2006, 4.30 - 5.00 pm

11th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Pavia, Italy, 2006