The influence of Sir Byrom Bramwell on poliomyelitis
O'Neill, Maurice Brendan
I. The classic conception of the disease in Scotland relied mainly on the teachings of Sir Byrom Bramwell who demonstrated before the Edinburgh Medical Chirurgical Society 1881 a series of microscopical preparations and drawings illus- trating the spinal cord changes in Poliomyelitis.II. Sir Byrom Bramwell taught that before 1910 he had never seen anywhere, not even in the same family, more than one case of the disease occurring in a single place at any one time.III. Hospital Statistics in Scotland reflect the exigencies of teaching, the availability of beds, the interest or disinterest of the admitting Physicians, as well as the incidence of the disease and, hence, have no absolute value. But if we imagine their inaccuracy to be constant, they afford a workable index of the trend of the disease in the country.IV. There are no Archaeological evidences as yet of the existence of the disease in Scotland in ancient days.V. The earliest recorded case occurred in Feb. 1773 in College Wynd, Edinburgh, the victim being Sir Walter Scott, who described his attack in 1808. From the description, the attack seems to have been precipitated by excessive exercise.VI. Scott's attack was probably an alien importation to the Royal Infirmary conveyed to him by his maternal grandfather, John Rutherford, for no subsequent case is recorded for 40 years.VII. Poliomyelitis became endemic in Scotland during the decade 1810 -1820.VIII. The disease was familiar to Sir James Young Simpson who reported having seen a number of cases in 1851.IX. Between 1850 and 1880 there was a 30 years' silence, due either to a dearth of the disease in Scotland or to a failure to publish its presence.X. In the early 'eighties' Poliomyelities is report- ed all over the mainland of Scotland as well as from the Isle of Mull.