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James Parkinson’s Essay on the shaking palsy, 1817–2017

Nadeem Toodayan
Med J Aust 2018; 208 (9): 384-386. || doi: 10.5694/mja17.01085
Published online: 21 May 2018

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the first specific description of parkinsonism

Except as a historical footnote in Talley and O’Connor’s time-honoured Clinical examination textbook,1 many younger generations of Australian medical practitioners may never have heard of James Parkinson’s (1755–1824) historic Essay on the shaking palsy.2 Certainly for medicos in their formative years, often already grappling with the ever expanding array of modern educational resources and facilities, this 200-year-old medical essay lurks low on the list of professional priorities. But this should not always be the case, and if William Osler’s (1849–1919) advice to doctors-in-training is anything to go by — “Let the old men read new books; you read the journals and the old books”3 — then there is reason enough to further our knowledge of the history of medicine during our training as medical practitioners. For those so persuaded, the bicentenary of Parkinson’s classic Essay provides ample impetus for historical reflection.

  • Nadeem Toodayan

  • Frankston Hospital, Melbourne, VIC


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