History of the Study of Locomotion

The Egyptians: Edwin Smith Papyrus (1800 BC)

Instruction concerning a dislocation of a vertebra of the neck: if you examine a man having a dislocation of the a vertebra of his neck, should you find him unconscious of his arms and legs on account of it......then you should say an ailment which cannot be treated

The seventeen columns on the recto comprise the first surgical treatise thus far discovered. It consists exclusively of case reports, systematically organized - beginning with injuries of the head and proceeding downward through the body, like a modern treatise on anatomy. The treatment of these injuries is rational and chiefly surgical; there is resort to magic in only one case out of the forty-eight cases preserved. Each case is classified by one of three different verdicts: (1) favorable, (2) uncertain, or (3) unfavorable. The third verdict, expressed in the words, 'an ailment not to be treated,' is found in no other Egyptian medical treatise. This unfavorable verdict occurring fourteen times in the Edwin Smith Papyrus marks a group of cases (besides one more case) which the surgeon cannot cure. It is likely that the patients described in the 48 cases were injured by falls (maybe from working on monuments or buildings) or were victims of battle (many wounds appear to be caused by spears, clubs or daggers.) The brain is mentioned 7 times throughout the papyrus. However, there is no use of the word "nerve."

The 48 cases contained within the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus concern:

Edwin Smith, was born in Connecticut in 1822, the year that Egyptian hieroglyphic was first deciphered. On January 20, 1862 in the city of Luxor, Smith bought the surgical papyrus from a dealer named Mustapha Aga. Two months later the same vandals sold him the remaining fragments glued onto a dummy roll. Although Smith recognized the fraud, pieced the two together, and made an attempt at translation, it was not until 1930 that James H. Breasted translated the treatise and established its importance. According to Breasted, the Edwin Smith Papyrus  is a copy of an ancient composite manuscript which contained, in addition to the original author's text (3000-2500 B.C.), a commentary added a few hundred years later in the form of 69 explanatory notes (glosses). It contains 48 systematically arranged case histories, beginning with injuries of the head and proceeding downward to the thorax and spine, where the document unfortunately breaks off. These cases are typical rather than individual, and each presentation of a case is divided into title, examination, diagnosis, and treatment.

James Henry Breasted in his office at Haskell Hall in 1929 next to plates of the Edwin Smith Surgical PapyrusThe scribe of over 3,500 years ago had copied at least eighteen columns of the venerable treatise and had reached the bottom of a column when, pausing in the middle of a line, in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a word, he laid down his pen and pushed aside  forever the great Surgical Treatise he had been copying, leaving 15½ inches (39 cm.) bare and unwritten at the end of his roll.

Case Eight

Title: Instructions concerning a smash in his skull under the skin of his head.
Examination: If thou examinest a man having a smash of his skull, under the skin of his head, while there is nothing at all upon it, thou shouldst palpate his wound. Shouldst thou find that there is a swelling protruding on the out side of that smash which is in his skull, while his eye is askew because of it, on the side of him having that injury which is in his skull; (and) he walks shuffling with his sole, on the side of him having that injury which is in his skull...
Treatment: His treatment is sitting, until he [gains color], (and) until thou knowest he has reached the decisive point....
Gloss: As for: "He walks shuffling with his sole," he (the surgeon) is speaking about his walking with his sole dragging, so that it is not easy for him to walk, when it (the sole) is feeble and turned over, while the tips of his toes are contracted to the ball of his sole, and they (the toes) walk fumbling the ground. He (the surgeon) says: "He shuffles," concerning it...

Case Thirty-One

Title: Instructions concerning a dislocation in a vertebra of [his] neck. Examination: If thou examinest a man having a dislocation in a vertebra of his neck, shouldst thou find him unconscious of his two arms (and) his two legs on account of it, while his phallus is erected on account of it, (and) urine drops from his member without his knowing it; his flesh has received wind; his two eyes are bloodshot; it is a dislocation of a vertebra of his neck extending to his backbone which causes him to be unconscious of his two arms (and) his two legs. If, however, the middle vertebra of his neck is dislocated, it is an emissio seminis which befalls his phallus.
Diagnosis: Thou shouldst say concerning him: "One having a dislocation in a vertebra of his neck, while he is unconscious of his two legs and  his two arms, and his urine dribbles. An ailment not to be treated."
Gloss: As for: "A dislocation in a vertebra of his neck," he is speaking of a separation of one vertebra of his neck from another, the flesh  which is over it being uninjured; as one says, "It is wnh," concerning things which had been joined together, when one has been severed from another.

Breasted, J.H., The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930.

Plato (428-348 BC)

First, then, the gods, imitating the spherical shape of the universe, enclosed the two divine courses in a spherical body, that, namely, which we now term the head, being the most divine part of us and the lord of all that is in us: to this the gods, when they put together the body, gave all the other members to be servants, considering that it partook of every sort of motion. In order then that it might not tumble about among the high and deep places of the earth, but might be able to get over the one and out of the other, they provided the body to be its vehicle and means of locomotion; which consequently had length and was furnished with four limbs extended and flexible; these God contrived to be instrumnets of locomotion whith which it might take hold and find support, and so be able to pass through all places, carrying on high the dwelling place of the most sacred and divine part of us. Such was the origin of legs and hands, which for this reason were attached to every man.

                                                                                                         Timaeus (360 BC), translated by Benjamin Jowett

Hippocrates Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

     When, then, a dislocation has not been reduced, but has been misunderstood or neglected, the leg, in walking, is
     rolled about as is the case with oxen, and the weight of the body is mostly supported on the sound leg, and the
     limb at the flank, and the joint where the dislocation has occurred is necessarily hollow and bent, while on the
     sound side the buttock is necessarily rounded. For if one should walk with the foot of the sound leg turned
     outward, the weight of the body would be thrown upon the injured limb, but the injured limb could not carry it, for
     how could it? One, then, is forced in walking to turn the leg inward, and not outward, for thus the sound leg best
     supports its own half of the body, and also that of the injured side. But being hollow at the flank and the hip-joint,
     they appear small in stature, and are forced to rest on a staff at the side of the sound leg. For they require the
     support of a staff there, since the nates inclines to this side, and the weight of the body is carried to it. They are
     forced also to stoop, for they are obliged to rest the hand on the side of the thigh against the affected limb; for the
     limb which is injured cannot support the body in changing the legs, unless it be held when it is applied to the
     ground. They who have got an unreduced dislocation inward are forced to put themselves into these attitudes, and
     this from no premeditation on their part how they should assume the easiest position, but the impediment itself
     teaches them to choose that which is most conformable to their present circumstances. For persons who have a
     sore on the foot, or leg, and cannot rest upon the limb, all, even children, walk in this way; for they turn the injured
     limb outward in walking, and they derive two advantages therefrom, to supply two wants; the weight of the body
     is not equally thrown upon the limb turned outward, as upon the one turned inward, for neither is the weight in a
     line with it, but is much more thrown upon the one under the body; for the weight is in a straight line with it, both in
     walking and in the shifting of the legs. In this position one can most quickly turn the sound limb under the body, by walking with the unsound limb outward, and the sound inward. In the case we are now treating of, it is well that
     the body finds out the attitudes which are the easiest for itself. Those persons, then, who have not attained their
     growth at the time when they met with a dislocation which is not reduced, become maimed in the thigh, the leg,
     and the foot, for neither do the bones grow properly, but become shortened, and especially the bone of the thigh;
     and the whole limb is emaciated, loses its muscularity, and becomes enervated and thinner, both from the
     impediment at the joint, and because the patient cannot use the limb, as it does not lie in its natural position, for a
     certain amount of exercise will relieve excessive enervation, and it will remedy in so far the deficiency of growth in
     length. Those persons, then, are most maimed who have experienced the dislocation in utero, next those who have
     met with it in infancy, and least of all, those who are full grown. The mode of walking adopted by adults has been
     already described; but those who are children when this accident befalls them, generally lose the erect position of
     the body, and crawl about miserably on the sound leg, supporting themselves with the hand of the sound side
     resting on the ground. Some, also, who had attained manhood before they met with this accident, have also lost
     the faculty of walking erect. Those who were children when they met with the accident, and have been properly
     instructed, stand erect upon the sound leg, but carry about a staff, which they apply under the armpit of the sound
     side, and some use a staff in both arms; the unsound limb they bear up, and the smaller the unsound limb, the
     greater facility have they in walking, and their sound leg is no less strong than when both are sound. The fleshy
     parts of the limb are enervated in all such cases, but those who have dislocation inward are more subject to this
     loss of strength than, for the most part, those who have it outward.
                                                                                                                                        Part 52
     When persons have attained their full growth before meeting with this dislocation, and when it has not been
     reduced, upon the subsidence of the pain, and when the bone of the joint has been accustomed to be rotated in
     the place where it is lodged, these persons can walk almost erect without a staff, and with the injured leg almost
     quite straight, as it does not admit of easy flexion at the groin and the ham; owing, then, to this want of flexion at
     the groin, they keep the limb more straight in walking than they do the sound one. And sometimes they drag the
     foot along the ground, as not being able to bend the upper part of the limb, and they walk with the whole foot on
     the ground; for in walking they rest no less on the heel than on the fore part of the foot; and if they could take
     great steps, they would rest entirely on the heel in walking; for persons whose limbs are sound, the greater the
     steps they take in walking, rest so much the more on the heel, while they are putting down the one foot and raising
     the opposite. In this form of dislocation, persons rest their weight more on the heel than on the anterior part of the
     foot, for the fore part of the foot cannot be bent forward equally well when the rest of the limb is extended as
     when it is in a state of flexion; neither, again, can the foot be arched to the same degree the limb is bent as when it
     is extended. The natural state of matters is such as has been now described; and in an unreduced dislocation,
     persons walk in the manner described, for the reasons which have been stated. The limb, moreover, is less fleshy
     than the other, at the nates, the calf of the leg, and the whole of its posterior part. When this dislocation occurs in
     infancy, and is not reduced, or when it is congenital, in these cases the bone of the thigh is more atrophied than
     those of the leg and foot; but the atrophy of the thigh-bone is least of all in this form of dislocation. The fleshy
     parts, however, are everywhere attenuated, more especially behind, as has been stated above. If properly trained,
     such persons, when they grow up, can use the limb, which is only a little shorter than the other, and yet they
     support themselves on a staff at the affected side. For, not being able to use properly the ball of the foot without
     the heel, nor to put it down as some can in the other varieties of dislocation (the cause of which has been just now
     stated), on this account they require a staff. But those who are neglected, and are not in the practice of putting
     their foot to the ground, but keep the limb up, have the bones more atrophied than those who use the limb; and, at
     the articulations, the limb is more maimed in the direct line than in the other forms of dislocation.
                                                                                                                                        Part 60
On the Articulations (400 BC)

Aristotle (384-322 BC)

On the Gait of Animals (350 B.C.)

Questions (part 1)


Archimedes (287-212 BC)

Another Greek, determined hydrostatic principles governing floating bodies that are still accepted
as swimming. In addition, Heath (1972) suggests that his inquiries included the laws of leverage and determining the center of
gravity and the foundation of the oretical mechanics. 

Galen (131-201 AD)

Roman citizen who tended the Pergamum's gladiators in Asia Minor and is considered to have been
the first team physician in history. He used number to describe muscles. His essay De Motu Musculorum (On the Movements of Muscles) distinguished between motor and sensory nerves, agonist and antagonist muscles, described tonus, and introduced terms such as diarthrosis and synarthrosis. He taught that muscular contraction resulted from the passage of "animal spirits" from the brain through the nerves to the muscles. Snook (1978) suggested that some writers consider his treatise the first textbook on kinesiology, and he has been termed "the father of sports medicine." Due to his era’s discouragement of human dissection, the majority of Galen’s work was based on the dissections of dogs, pigs, and apes.