A Human Experiment in Nerve Division

Original Article - Clinical Cases


W. Rivers, H. Head

Publication Identity

Brain, Volume 31, Issue 3, November 1908, Pages 323–450




It had long been recognized that the consequences of injury to a peripheral nerve could not be adequately explained on any accepted theory of its structure and function.
In 1901, Dr. Head and Mr. Sherren therefore determined to make a systematic examination of the patients attending the London Hospital for some nerve injury.

The hospital patient is frequently an admirable subject for sensory experiments; at his best he answers “Yes” and “No ” with certainty, and is commendably steady under the fatigue of control experiments. Moreover, the number of patients, who come to the London Hospital for such injuries, is so large that it is possible to eliminate entirely those who are found to be untrustworthy in consequence of misuse of alcohol or other causes.