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Otol Neurotol. 2005 Nov;26(6):1235-8.

Bell's palsy before Bell: Cornelis Stalpart van der Wiel's observation of Bell's palsy in 1683.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands.


Bell's palsy is named after Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842), who has long been considered to be the first to describe idiopathic facial paralysis in the early 19th century. However, it was discovered that Nicolaus Anton Friedreich (1761-1836) and James Douglas (1675-1742) preceded him in the 18th century. Recently, an even earlier account of Bell's palsy was found, as observed by Cornelis Stalpart van der Wiel (1620-1702) from The Hague, The Netherlands in 1683. Because our current knowledge of the history of Bell's palsy before Bell is limited to a few documents, it is interesting to discuss Stalpart van der Wiel's description and determine its additional value for the history of Bell's palsy. It is concluded that Cornelis Stalpart van der Wiel was the first to record Bell's palsy in 1683. His manuscript provides clues for future historical research.

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