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Semin Neurol. 2002 Dec;22(4):375-84.

The history of the development of the cerebellar examination.

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Department of Neurology, State University at Buffalo, New York, USA.


The cerebellar examination evolved from observations of experimental lesions made by neurophysiologists and clinical descriptions of patients with trauma to the cerebellum. At the beginning of the 19th century, neurophysiologists such as Luigi Rolando, Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens, and John Call Dalton, Jr. ablated portions of the cerebellum of a variety of animals and observed staggering gait, clumsiness, and falling from side to side without loss of strength. They concluded that the cerebellum coordinated voluntary movements. In 1899, Joseph Francois FĂ©lix Babinski observed that patients with cerebellar lesions could not execute complex movements without breaking down into their elemental movements and described the defect as dysmetria. In 1902, Babinski coined the term dysdiodochokinesis to describe the inability to perform rapid execution of movements requiring alternate contractions of agonist and antagonist muscles. Gordon Holmes in 1904 described the phenomena of rebound, noting that if a limb ipsilateral to a cerebellar lesion is suddenly released from tension, the appendage will flail. In 1917, Gordon Holmes reported hypotonia and dysmetria in men wounded by gunshot wounds to their cerebellum. These observations were rapidly included in descriptions of the cerebellar examination in popular contemporaneous textbooks of neurology. Modern observations have demonstrated that the cerebellum influences such cognitive functions such as planning, verbal fluency, abstract reasoning, prosody, and use of correct grammar.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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