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The printed edition of the obituary of Dr Sabina Strich (BMJ 5 March 2016) mentions nothing of the academic life she led before becoming a child psychiatrist, for which we and many thousands of clinicians and scientists around the world will remember her. In 1956, working as an MRC funded researcher in the department of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Oxford, Sabina Strich introduced the idea that diffuse degeneration of the white matter, now known as diffuse axonal injury, could be responsible for prolonged coma and low awareness states after traumatic brain injury. In 1961, again singled handed though with the continued support of Professor Peter Daniel and others, she described in the Lancet the retraction ball. This swelling at the ends of transected axons in the white matter of the brain, is the hallmark of diffuse axonal injury and critical to our understanding of the pathology of traumatic brain injury.
No competing interests
08 March 2016
Professor David Sharp, Imperial College London
Kings College London
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, 16 De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF