Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893)

Jean-Martin Charcot was an eminent 19th century French neurologist who worked at the Salpêtriere hospital, Paris (9). Without doubt, Charcot was one of the most important characters in the history of MS, his findings representing a huge breakthrough for the clinical understanding of the disease.

Charcot was the first to make definite links between the hitherto mysterious symptomatology, now known to be MS, and the pathological changes seen in post-mortem samples. For the first time, almost forty years after the discovery of the lesions, the clinical condition was described by Charcot as 'sclrérose en plaques' and MS as recognised as a distinct disease entity (10).

Charcot's contribution extended to the development of diagnostic criteria, which included the now famous Charcot's triad, diplopia (double vision), ataxia (disturbances of balance or co-ordination) and dysarthria (difficulties with, or slurred speech) which he observed in his own housekeeper.

Charcot also gave the first complete histological account of MS lesions, describing many important features including loss of myelin and proliferation of glial fibres and nuclei.

==> Pierre Marie (1853-1940)

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