Babinski Reflex


What in the world is a "Babinski Reflex"? Other than being an MS sign with a funny sounding name, what is it? In truth, I actually knew what it meant before I knew what it was called. That makes sense, right?

The reflex was named after the French neurologist by the name of Joseph Babinski who lived in the early 1900's. It is used to detect damage to the brain or spinal cord. The definition follows.


Babinski reflex

  • a neurological sign shown by stroking the bottom of the foot with a pointed object. This causes the big toe to point upward instead of curling under which is the normal reflex. The abnormal reflex shows that there is trauma to the brain and spinal cord.




I have to admit, when I first learned exactly what this multiple sclerosis sign - babinski reflex - was, I actually ran around checking everybody's reflex. I grabbed a pen and made everyone take off their shoes and socks. I stroked the bottom of each persons foot to see if their toes pointed up or bunched up and curled under.

My youngest daughter, who was about 13 at the time, thought I was being weird. But I did find out she didn't show the sign. Babies will show the sign also, but that is only because their nervous system isn't fully myelinated yet. So don't do it to your tiny little ones who can't walk yet. (Or you can, it might make them laugh - lol).

Also, don't try it after you've walked for a long time. And don't do it to someone who's asleep. (Other than being extremely upset with you, this is a time when the babinski reflex is a normal response).

But go ahead, if you want to try it. You're probably curious just like I was. Go ahead. I'll wait here till you get back...........

So, did it work? Don't be alarmed if nothing happened. That is one of the possible responses. And even if you do see a bit of a response, you need to go to your doctor or neurologist. We are not doctors. You are not a doctor. The only way you will know if you or a loved one has MS, is if you have a complete neurological exam done by a qualified doctor.

If you have MS, you're neurologist has probably already performed this simple test on you. And although this isn't the only sign that is evident when you have multiple sclerosis, it is one of many tests usually performed during a neurological exam. 

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