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Handb Clin Neurol. 2010;95:657-66. doi: 10.1016/S0072-9752(08)02141-6.

Chapter 41: the history of neurology in Scandinavia.

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Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.


Neurology is well developed in Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) with a large number of clinical departments and specialists. The care for neurological patients is fairly equally organized even if neurology has evolved from different sources, from psychiatry in Denmark and Finland, internal medicine in Sweden and electrotherapy in Norway. Evidence of diagnostic activity and treatment of neurological diseases can be found in Scandinavia for more than 5000 years. The oldest are trepanned skulls. Written documentation exists from the Viking era, describing treatment of seizures and possibly also the effect of ergotamine. The methods were in concordance with medical practice in the rest of Europe. Scandinavian neurobiologists have produced important contributions to neuroscience during the last 300 or 400 years. Their names can be recognized as eponyms and Nobel prize laureates. Examples are Niels Stensen (Nicolaus Stenoni), the Bartholin family and Knud Krabbe of Denmark, Ragnar Granit of Finland, Bjørn Sigurdsson (the concept of slow virus infections) of Iceland, Asbjørn Følling and Sigvald Refsum of Norway and Gunnar Wohlfart, Eric Kugelberg, Lisa Welander and Arvid Carlsson of Sweden. In addition, well known neurological diseases were described in Scandinavia long before those neuroscientists that today have their names attached to them: Otto Christian Stengel, Norway (1826: Batten-Spielmayer-Vogt's disease), Johan Christian Lund, Norway (1860: Huntington's chorea) and Ernst Alexander Homén, Finland (1889: Wilson's disease).

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