Medicine: Polio and Nerves

Sometimes nerves, like pollarded willows or clipped adenoids, will spread and grow after pruning. The growth rate may be an eighth of an inch a day, or even faster. This fact has been the basis of infantile-paralysis treatments by Lieut. Commander Harvey Ellsworth Billig, Jr. and Physiologist Anthonie Van Harreveld of the California Institute of Technology.

Their first big success came in 1940, when they operated on a 16-year-old boy with a weak, wasted lower leg and foot. Through an incision in the calf, they crushed the nerve above the point where it was damaged. Two months later,...

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