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Babinski reflex hammer, England, 1900-1950

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Hammers like this one are used to test how quickly the muscles and nerves respond to an external stimulus. The hammer is tapped at the knee and the knee jerk response is watched. Injuries to the central nervous system and spine above the femoral nerve (in the hip) cause the knee jerk action to be increased more than normal. Injuries below the femoral nerve cause the knee jerk action to disappear. This was used to pinpoint where an injury had taken place. This type of reflex hammer is named after its inventor, French neurologist, Joseph Babiński (1857-1932).

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Glossary: percussor

A small hammer, usually with soft rubber head, used to tap the body directly, in percussion of the chest or other part.

Glossary: reflex hammer

No description.

Glossary: neurology

The study of the functions, anatomy and organic disorders of the nervous system.