In the debate before the British Medical Association the question of the permanence of cures by this method was the subject of discussion. I have lately been at some pains to learn the fate of many of my earlier cases, and can say with certainty that every case then treated was selected because all else had failed, and that I find relapses into the state they were in when brought to me to have been very uncommon. A vast proportion have remained in useful health, and a small number have lost a part of their gains. I now make it a rule to keep up some relation with patients after discharge, by occasional visits or by letter, and believe that in this way many small troubles are hindered from becoming large enough to cause relapses.
I said in my first edition that I did not doubt that the statements I made would give rise in some minds to that distrust which the relation of remarkable cures so naturally excites; and this I cannot blame. Every physician can recall in his own practice such cases as I have described, and every medical man of large experience knows that many of these women are to him sources of anxiety or of therapeutic despair so deep that after a time he gets to think of them as destined irredeemably to a life of imperfect health, and finds it hard to believe that any method of treatment can possibly achieve a rescue.
I am fortunate now in having been able to show that in other hands than my own, both here and abroad, this treatment has so thoroughly justified itself as to need no further defence or apology from its author. It has gratified me also to learn that in many instances country physicians, remote from the resources of great cities, have been able to make it available. As I have already said, I am now more fearful that it will be misused, or used where it is not needed, than that it will not be used; and, with this word of caution, I leave it again to the judgment of time and my profession.
THE TREATMENT OF LOCOMOTOR ATAXIA, ATAXIC PARAPLEGIA, SPASTIC PARALYSIS, AND PARALYSIS AGITANS.
In my earliest publication on the treatment of diseases by rest, etc., locomotor ataxia was alluded to as one of the troubles in which remarkable results had been obtained. Rest alone will do much to diminish pain and promote sleep in tabes, rest with massage and electricity will do more. It is not necessary to order complete seclusion for such cases, but some special measures will be needed in addition to those already described as of use in various disorders, and these will be discussed in this chapter.
While this is not a treatise on diagnosis, some brief symptom-description is needed to enable one to define clearly the methods of treatment at different stages.