Journal Mobile

M-F Weiner, JR Silver
Journal Issue: 
Volume 38: Issue 3: 2008




At the beginning of the nineteenth century, doctors and lay practitioners became interested in the treatment of spinal deformity, but it took two centuries for the specialty to become established. The provision of care was fragmented, and treatment  was  in  the  hands  of  physicians,  surgeons,  mechanics,  masseurs  and bonesetters.  In  1837,  Dr  Edward  Harrison  founded  the  first  infirmary  for  spinal diseases in London with only six beds. Harrison was a forceful character who had trained  in  Scotland.  He  held  no  voluntary  hospital  appointment  and  faced  great opposition  from  the  London  Royal  Colleges  and  the  orthodox  establishment, including Sir Charles Bell and John Shaw. This paper describes Harrison’s treatment of patients afflicted by spinal deformity and analyses the medical environment of the time as well as Harrison’s legacy.