Barrow researchers find roots of modern humane treatment

August 25, 2016

PHOENIX - Researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute have traced the roots of humane medical practices to a pioneering French physician who treated people with deformities as humans instead of "monsters," as they were commonly called.

The physician, André Feil, established practices that have become health care norms more than a century later. Feil wrote a 1919 medical school thesis on cervical abnormalities defying long-held opinions about people with "monstrous" deformities -- that their conditions resulted from moral failure or supernatural causes. Feil and his mentor, Maurice Klippel, described patients with congenital fusion of cervical vertebrae, a rare condition now known as "Klippel-Feil syndrome."

"This was a real revolution in terms of thinking about these patients," said Dr. Mark C. Preul of Barrow, who oversaw the research paper published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery. "They come in to see you, and they've got problems -- and they may be horrific problems to look at -- but it doesn't matter. They're human.

"That's really the ultimate message of Feil's thesis," said Barrow's Dr. Preul. "You treat everybody who comes to you with dignity and honor, and you do the utmost that you can when you're treating them." Barrow is part of Dignity Health's St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz.

Barrow researchers discovered Feil's thesis, which they described as "a medical gem," at the University of Paris, Dr. Preul said. The city was at the vanguard of advances in neurology and psychology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"In addition to practicing the science of medicine, (Feil) highlighted the importance of humanism to medicine, and we have inherited his legacy for care and consideration for those we might term 'handicapped,' " Barrow Dr. Evgenii Belykh wrote in the paper. "Although his name is not often encountered in the annals of history, there is no denying that Feil played a critical role in attempting to change a sociocultural mind-set rooted in ignorance and fear."

Dr. Preul said modern-day reminders of Feil's groundbreaking work are common; one example is the public's view of disabled people, including military veterans.

"One example is that the Olympics used to show what we would call normal athletes," Dr. Preul said. "But I've noticed advertisements for Paralympic athletes. These people are fantastic physical specimens. There's some real thought and advanced scientific efforts about how we can help these people achieve a normal integration into society again. This attitude just didn't start yesterday, but our ability to provide it technologically has been lacking. This is a long time in coming."

St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center

Related Medicine Articles from Brightsurf:

An ultrasonic projector for medicine
A chip-based technology that modulates intensive sound pressure profiles with high resolution opens up new possibilities for ultrasound therapy.

A new discovery in regenerative medicine
An international collaboration involving Monash University and Duke-NUS researchers have made an unexpected world-first stem cell discovery that may lead to new treatments for placenta complications during pregnancy.

How dinosaur research can help medicine
The intervertebral discs connect the vertebrae and give the spine its mobility.

Graduates of family medicine residencies are likely to enter and remain in family medicine
This study provides an overview of the characteristics of physicians who completed family medicine residency training from 1994 to 2017.

Nuclear medicine and COVID-19: New content from The Journal of Nuclear Medicine
In one of five new COVID-19-related articles and commentaries published in the June issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Johnese Spisso discusses how the UCLA Hospital System has dealt with the pandemic.

Moving beyond 'defensive medicine'
Study shows removing liability concerns slightly increases C-section procedures during childbirth.

NUS Medicine researchers can reprogramme cells to original state for regenerative medicine
Scientists from NUS Medicine have found a way to induce totipotency in embryonic cells that have already matured into pluripotency.

Protein injections in medicine
One day, medical compounds could be introduced into cells with the help of bacterial toxins.

Study reveals complementary medicine use remains hidden to conventional medicine providers
Research reveals that 1 in 3 complementary medicine (CM) users do not disclose their CM use to their medical providers, posing significant direct and indirect risks of adverse effects and harm due to unsafe concurrent use of CM and conventional medicine use.

Study of traditional medicine finds high use in Sub-Saharan Africa despite modern medicine
Researchers who have undertaken the first systematic review of into the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines (TCAM) in Sub-Saharan Africa found its use is significant and not just because of a lack of resources or access to 'conventional medicine'.

Read More: Medicine News and Medicine Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to