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Truly Hoover’s sign, not Babinski-2
  1. Jan van Gijn
  1. University Medical Centre, Utrecht, the Netherlands, Email: J.vanGijn{at}


Those who know my hang-up with Babinski will understand that I could not resist the temptation to respond to Jim Howe’s question regarding when and where Babinski described the ‘heel pressure phenomenon’ that is now known as Hoover’s sign (Howe 2001). Well, the answer is he didn’t. What Babinski did report, in a two-part paper listing all the signs known at the time (Babinski 1900) that could help to distinguish organic from hysterical hemiplegia, was involuntary flexion of the ‘truly’ paralysed leg when the supine patient attempts to sit up without using the arms (Fig. 1) (Babinski 1900). When a healthy person performs this movement, both legs are pressed against the surface by action of the hip extensors (gluteus maximus); otherwise the legs would go up instead of the trunk. On the side of an organic hemiplegia (the left side in the figure) there is no such stabilizing activity and

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