(14 June 1864 – 19 December 1915)
Alois Alzheimer was a Psychiatrist who identified Alzheimer’s Disease, the pathology that leads to Alzheimer’s Type Dementia. His findings were instrumental in transforming the understanding of Dementia. To put this in a historical context, the interested reader is directed to this paper outlining how the understanding of cognition in older adulthood has changed over the past two thousand years.
Alzheimer was born in Marktbreit in Germany (the house where he was born is now a museum). He studied medicine in Berlin and then at the Würzburg University and his lecturers had included Westphal, Corti, Leydig and Waldeyer. Alzheimer qualified in 1887 and then worked as both a Psychiatrist and Pathologist in Frankfurt. Alzheimer worked with Nissl (who had developed Nissl staining) and Sioli. Together they transformed the practice in the Institute in which they were working, avoiding restrictive practices and engaging patients in bath therapy and dialogue. Alzheimer later moved to Heidelberg where he was mentored by Emil Kraeplin, a prominent Psychiatrist of the nineteenth century.
One of Alzheimer’s patients was a 51-year old lady with young-onset Dementia. When she died, Alzheimer undertook a post-mortem study. Alzheimer presented his findings at Tübingen and the following year published his seminal paper.
In summary Alzheimer studied with many noted psychiatrists and pathologists and had developed significant expertise in both areas. He gained significant clinical experience and innovated in service delivery. His histopathological studies extended to many neurological and psychiatric conditions and he integrated clinical and histopathological findings.
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