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Spasmodic torticollis 

Spasmodic torticollis
Spasmodic torticollis

Ivan Donaldson

, C. David Marsden

, Susanne A. Schneider

, and Kailash P. Bhatia

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date: 28 June 2022

A fanciful interpretation of fossil records has suggested the existence of torticollis in dinosaurs (Kaiser 1954). It is uncertain when the disorder was first recognized in man but Michelangelo seems to depict this. Rabelais, the 16th century French physician, priest, and satirist, is credited with first using the term ‘torty colly’ from which torticollis is derived. Involuntary neck movement was described by Wepfer in 1727, but attempts at surgical correction are recorded as early as 1641 (Finney and Hughson 1925). By the end of the 19th century the disorder was well known and several excellent papers by French and British physicians date from this era (Gowers 1893, Brissaud 1895, Redard 1898, Cruchet 1907). At this time there was a tendency to regard many, if not most, of these cases as being due to hysteria. By the 1920s to the 1940s the pendulum had swung the other way and most cases were thought to be organic. In 1943 Patterson and Little clearly outlined the major features in a clinical study of 103 patients with spasmodic torticollis. Six years later, in another large series of patients, the clinical, electromyographic, and surgical aspects were well described (Herz and Glaser 1949, Herz and Hoefer 1949, Putnam et al. 1949).

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