- A dictionary of medical eponyms

George Riddoch

Born 1888
Died 1947

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Scottish neurologist, born 1888, Keith in Banffshire, Scotland; died 1947.

Biography of George Riddoch

George Riddoch spent virtually all his working life in London. He was born at Keith in Banffshire, Scotland, went to school at Gordon College, Aberdeen, and then entered medical school at the University of Aberdeen, graduating M.B.Ch.B. with 1st class honours in 1913.

In World War I he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was appointed medical officer in charge of the Empire Hospital for injuries of the nervous system. It was here that he met Henry Head (1861-1940), who recognized his talents, and they worked in close collaboration. Head brought Riddoch to the newly formed unit at the London Hospital where he subsequently headed the neurology unit.

Riddoch published on various aspects of spinal cord injury and also on phantom limb and body image. When Head became incapacitated with Parkinson’s disease, Riddoch filled the role of physician and loyal friend. Known as “Wee Georgie” he was a very energetic person, who never spared himself, he had a very keen, but dry sense of humour, and loved fishing, books and especially music. He regularly performed the Highland fling at the pre-Christmas celebrations at the London Hospital on the billiard table. The trustees of the hospital insisted that an annual fee of 40 pounds be paid to cover the damage to the table.

In World War II in 1941 he and Sir Hugh Cairns (1896-1952) were largely responsible for the organisation of the army neurological service, although he was in poor health. After some years of suffering he had a gastric operation undertaken and died post-operatively.

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