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Abstract Details

A Delineated World History of Pre-Jacksonian Semiological Description and Discovery
History of Neurology
P1 - Poster Session 1 (8:00 AM-9:00 AM)

Though the etiology of seizures has been attributed to many causes through history, their described semiologies are remarkably similar, tracing back over 4000 years. Through these millennia, seizure semiology has been described using much of the language on which we base our current terminology.

To delineate the world history of how seizure semiology has been described from its first description around 2500 BC through pre-Jacksonian 1850’s, and highlight the historical discoveries in seizure etiology and localization.
Historical manuscripts and original translations through multiple eras in world history were searched to find the most accurate language used in the description of seizure semiology.

The first description of seizures was made by the Sumerians in early Mesopotamia, however it was the elaborate description of the Babylonians 1000 years later that first described the semiology of aura, several seizure-types, and even lateralizing/localizing signs. Later in Greece, during the Hippocratic era, seizures were first proposed as derived from the brain rather than from ethereal beings, heritable rather than contagious, and signs were first documented as being localizable to the contralateral cerebral hemisphere. The Roman physician Galen was the first to formally define and categorize seizures based on semiology and the first to coin the term aura. Later during the Roman era, the first elaborate and specific description of the generalized tonic-clonic seizure as well as the first description of special sense hallucinatory auras was documented by Aretaeus of Cappadocia. Lastly, in 18th and 19th century France and Britain, several physicians first described the semiologies of absence seizures and infantile spasms.

Though modern semiological description is well-documented and categorized, the origins of this language can be traced back thousands of years with civilizations and societies using similar verbiage interestingly colored by the cultural beliefs of each era.
James D. Dolbow, DO
Dr. Dolbow has received publishing royalties from a publication relating to health care.
Neel Fotedar, MD (University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center) Dr. Fotedar has nothing to disclose.