Advertisement

Dr William John Little

Advertisement

Dr William John Little

Birth
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Death 7 Jul 1894 (aged 83)
Kent, England
Burial Ryarsh, Tonbridge and Malling Borough, Kent, England
Memorial ID 196342267 View Source
Suggest Edits

Physician. He received notoriety as an English physician who was the first to document research on cerebral palsy, pioneer orthopedic surgery to relieve a clubfoot, and wrote the first text on orthopedic surgery in England. He is considered the “Founder of British Orthopedic Surgery”. He was the son of an innkeeper. His education began in England but he traveled to France to study their language placing successful in competitions above Frenchmen. After returning to London in 1826, he started a two-year practice in a pharmacy. In 1828 he started medical studies first at the London Hospital, and later at Guy's Hospital, and soon became a teacher of anatomy, physiology, and pathology at London Hospital, where he was unsuccessful in obtaining a position as a surgeon. In 1832, he was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons, but relocated to Berlin, Germany in 1834 to further his education and medical career. In Berlin, Dr. Luis Stromeyer performed a very successful tenotomy of the Achilles tendon on Little's clubfoot. His limp from the clubfoot may have prevented him from advancing professionally. Impressed with the surgery, he worked with deformed feet which led to a Doctorate Degree from the University of Berlin in 1837. That same year, he returned to London, developed his private practice and in 1839 published a paper on his clubfoot surgery. He began performing many successful foot surgeries. In 1840 he received the position of surgeon at London Hospital. The same year, he opened the first hospital in England dedicated to treating orthopedic disorders, which was later named the Royal Orthopedic Hospital of London. Besides treating children with a clubfoot, he studied children suffering with spastic and stiffness of extremities, deformities of upper and lower limbs, and paralysis. In his research papers, he described what is now known as “cerebral palsy,” yet he never used this term in his papers. This would be done later by other physicians including William Osler , and Sigmund Freud, , who connected this problem in the limbs to a problem in the brain. In his time, the condition was called “Little's Disease.” His first book in 1861, “Lectures on the Deformities of the Human Frame.” and other papers gave his study of 63 cases of infants with spastic paralysis. In 1893, he resigned from his position at London Hospital, but continued to practiced as surgeon and doing research. He was forced into retirement with his progressive deafness and moved to the village of Ryarsh where he died. He married and had seven children to live to adulthood, with two sons becoming orthopedic surgeons, including his youngest son, Ernest Muirhead Little, who became the first President of the British Orthopedic Association. His last paper dated 1882, “Medical and Surgical Aspects of In-Knee,” was written with the assistance of his son, Ernest.


Advertisement

  • Created by: Linda Davis
  • Added: 25 Jan 2019
  • Find a Grave Memorial 196342267
  • Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/196342267/william-john-little : accessed ), memorial page for Dr William John Little (7 Aug 1810–7 Jul 1894), Find a Grave Memorial ID 196342267, citing St. Martin Churchyard, Ryarsh, Tonbridge and Malling Borough, Kent, England ; Maintained by Linda Davis (contributor 46609907) .