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RSD Article # 3

The following article is a reprint of the Classic article written by Doctors Silas Weir Mitchell, George R. Morehouse, and William W. Keen.

In their 1864 article Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves, Mitchell had coined the term causalgia from the Greek, "Kausos" (heat) and "algos" (pain).

Below is an abstract from the article The Classic: Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves.

Please click on the link below to view the full text of this article in PDF-format.

RSD Article #3

The Classic

Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves


Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) lived a long and productive life in Philadelphia, making his mark as a scientist, physician, and writer. A product of a medical family, seven physicians in three generations, he received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1850. Following graduation, he spent a year traveling and studying in Europe, where be attended the lectures of Claude Bernard His early medical practice was scant, which allowed him time for his scientific experiments on snake venom, curare, and comparative physiology. Mitchell joined the army as a contract physician in 1862 and was assigned to a hospital in Philadelphia by his friend, William K Hammond, the Surgeon General.

In May 1863, Hammond set aside some wards in the U.S. Army Hospital. Christian Street, Philadelphia, for the treatment of diseases and injuries of the nervous system. This categorization and grouping or patients with similar problems in special hospitals greatly facilitated patient care and the study of their diseases. Mitchell and George R. Morehouse were assigned the care of patients on these wards. They were joined later by a young intern, W. W. Keen. One or the fruits of their work was a small volume, Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves, which contained the first description of causalgia This term was coined by Mitchell from the Greek, "Kausos" (heat) and "algos" (pain). In 1872, Mitchell published an expanded version or this work, Injuries of Nerves and Their Consequences *'The lasting value or this work was recognized when it was reprinted by the American Academy of Neurology (Dover Publications, Inc., New York) in 1965. As a result or his many early contributions to neurology, he was elected as the first president of the American Neurological Association.

The later years of Mitchell's life were taken up by his popular and literary writing. His output included nineteen novels and eight books of poetry, in addition to numerous other papers.

His most popular novel, Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker, published in 1896, was a historical novel of the Revolutionary War. It can still be read with pleasure.

Mitchell died in 1914 in his beloved Philadelphia after adding luster to its medical and literary community for half a century.

                                                                                            LEONARD F. PELTIER. M.D.


S. Weir Mitchell, et, al (Reprint) "The Classic- Gunshot Wounds And Other Injuries Of Nerves" Clinical Orthopaedics And Related Research, Vol.163: 2-7 March 1982.