A history of Todd and his paralysis.
To describe the history of Robert Bentley Todd (1809-1860) and certain of his contributions to medicine, including his original and subsequent descriptions of "epileptic hemiplegia," which came to be called "Todd's paralysis." The author conducted a comprehensive review of English-language literature, modern and historical, related to "Todd's paralysis" and examined Todd's original case histories and commentary by Todd, his contemporaries, and his successors. Todd held that some patients "who recover from a severe fit, or from frequently repeated fits of epilepsy, are often found to labor under hemiplegia, or other modifications of palsy." He believed that this resulted from "undue exaltation. [resulting in] a state of depression or exhaustion." Interestingly, Todd was the first to present an electrical theory of epilepsy, supported by his own animal experimentation, well before his better-known successor John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911) (famous for his investigations of partial epilepsies and the eponymous "Jacksonian march"). Many neurologists and investigators followed Todd in acknowledging transient postictal paralysis as a distinct clinical entity. Yet whether the pathophysiology of "Todd's paralysis" is related to "neuronal exhaustion" or excessive inhibition is still controversial.