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The Babinski sign--a reappraisal.

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Author(s): Kumar S | Ramasubramanian D

Journal: Neurology India
ISSN 0028-3886

Volume: 48;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 314;
Date: 2000;
Original page

Keywords: Human | Nervous System Diseases | diagnosis | Neurologic Examination | methods | Pyramidal Tracts | physiopathology | Reflex | Babinski | classification | diagnosis | physiopathology

ABSTRACT
In 1896, Joseph Babinski, a French neurologist, first described the best known neurologic eponym ′the Babinski sign′. This sign is characterised by dorsiflexion of the big toe and recruitment of the extensor hallucis longus muscle, on stimulating the sole of the foot. He has emphasised from the outset, the intimate relationship between this sign and the shortening movement in other leg muscles, which form the flexion synergy of the lower limb. The Babinski sign is not a new reflex, rather it is released as a result of breakdown of the harmonious integration of the flexion and extension components of the normal defence reflex mechanism, due to pyramidal tract dysfunction. A pathological Babinski sign should be clearly distinguished from upgoing toes that may not always be a part of the flexion synergy. This article reviews the Babinski sign in detail, focusing on the historical perspectives, role of pyramidal tract dysfunction and art of elicitation and interpretation. The significance of assessing this phenomenon in the entire leg, and the clinical clues that will help to dispel the myths regarding the Babinski sign, have been emphasised.
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