William John Little was born in Whitechapel, London, England back in 1810 to John and Hannah. He suffered from polio, partial paralysis, and severe club foot. As a youth he was an apothecary’s apprentice, surrendering his indentures at the age of 18 he entered medical school at the London Hospital.
In 1832, he was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons. He is known for his doctoral dissertation on tenotomy (the surgical cutting of a tendon) for the treatment of club foot. He travelled to Germany to study the technique of subcutaneous tenotomy with Louis Stromeyer, who subsequently corrected Little’s deformed foot by this method. The techniques originated by Stromeyer and applied by Little are still used today in the surgical management of quite a few neuromuscular conditions. He was one of the first to bridge the gap between neurology and orthopedics, his work continues to impact both of these fields. They are still being used in today’s management of spastic cerebral palsy and similar neuromuscular disabilities.
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