Wilhelm Heinrich Erb

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Erb, Wilhelm Heinrich


Born Nov. 30, 1840, in Winnweiler, in what is now the Land (state) of Rhineland-Palatinate; died Oct. 29 (according to some sources, Dec. 29), 1921, in Heidelberg. German physician; one of the founders of neuropathology.

Erb received his medical education at the universities of Heidelberg, Munich, and Erlangen. He became a professor in 1869. He was appointed director of the university clinic at Heidelberg in 1883 and worked there as a teacher, clinician, and scientist until 1917.

Erb’s principal works dealt with the symptoms and diagnosis of nervous diseases. He identified many types of neuromuscular disease, among them spastic spinal paralysis (1875), myasthenia gravis (1878–79), and pseudohypertrophic muscular dystrophy (1884). He was one of the first to point out the connection between tabes dorsalis and syphilis. Erb described a number of syndromes of nervous diseases, such as the bulbar syndrome and combined paralysis of the shoulder and forearm. One of the founders of electrodiagnosis and electrotherapy, Erb made a great contribution to the study of muscular and nervous electric irritability. He described points of excitation of muscles and nerves (Erb’s points), the reaction of degeneration, the myotonic reaction, and increased electric irritability of motor nerves in cases of tetany (Erb’s sign).


Handbuch der Elektrotherapie. Leipzig, 1882.
In Russian translation:
Rukovodstvo k chastnoi patologii i terapii, vol. 12, part 1: Bolezni perifericheskikh tserebrospinal’nykh nervov. Kiev, 1878.
Rukovodstvo k bolezniam prodolgovatogo mozga. St. Petersburg, 1881.


Nonne, M. “Wilhelm Erb, 1840–1921.” In Grosse Nervenärzte, vol. 1. Stuttgart, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.