Sir Charles Bell

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Bell, Sir Charles

Bell, Sir Charles, 1774–1842, Scottish anatomist and surgeon. He became professor of anatomy and surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, in 1824 and was professor of surgery at the Univ. of Edinburgh from 1836. He was the first to distinguish between the motor and the sensory functions of the nerves; this work was confirmed and elaborated by Magendie in 1822. Among Bell's works is The Nervous System of the Human Body (1830).


See his letters (ed. by his wife, 1870); biographies by E. Bramwell (1935) and Sir Gordon Gordon-Taylor and E. W. Walls (1958).

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Examination was significant for right-sided VIIth cranial nerve findings that included facial symmetry at rest, mild forehead weakness, incomplete eye closure, positive Bell phenomenon, moderate midface weakness with asymmetry of the nasolabial fold, mild weakness of the marginal mandibular nerve with a nearly symmetric smile, normal platysma movement, and synkinetic twitching of the mentalis muscle.
Can Emerson's insight totally explain the Bell phenomenon? Were the people prepared to see some struggling, second-rate music student trying to earn some early morning change for a latte and saw exactly that?