HAND PHOTO GOES HERE
Cast of Harvey Cushing's Hand
Donor: Richard U. Light (1990)
Dr. Cushing was age 53 when this cast was made.
The following excerpt from Journal of Neurosurgery, April 1969 describes Dr. Cushing's interest in "hands".
"This story, told by Dr. Leo Davidoff, reminds us not only of the steady stream of internationally famous surgeons that trooped through the Brigham, but of the sly humor and vanity of their famous host.
'While I was resident in neurosurgery at the Brigham I puttered around with the acromegaly cases and was seeking some what in which we could demonstrate objectively the changes that take place in these patients following the removal of the pituitary tumor. This led me to make plaster casts of one of the patients' hands before and after operation, and thus demonstrate the appreciable loss of soft tissue edema. Dr. Cushing was interested and went further by applying the same technique to a little idea of his own. He had made the first cast of his own hand way back in his medical school days. You see, he was inordinately proud of his hands; as a matter of fact, they were the most virile pair of hands that I have every seen, strong, muscular, dexterous, and skillful. He now wondered whether other great surgeons also had unusual hands and decided to collect some plaster samples.
'Sooner or later most famous surgeons in the world visited Dr. Cushing; it was, therefore, quite easy to have access to the hands. But the way he went about obtaining the casts was characteristic. He would take his guest for a short walk down Huntington Avenue where they would eventually come to the display window of an Italian sculptor. When Dr. Cushing and his guest reached this window, the Chief would say casually, 'This looks like a rather interesting place, why don't we go in for a few minutes?' So, in they went. As they began to look at the Roman replicas the storeowner would approach them to ask if they wanted anything particular. Dr. Cushing would reply, 'Oh, no, we're just looking around.' The storeowner would then invite them to look all they wanted, but would immediately turn to the visitor and exclaim, 'Sir, you must be a surgeon!' The visitor would be somewhat surprised and say, 'How do you know that?' And the owner would state that he thought his hands were unique. 'In fact,' he would go on to say, 'I have made it a hobby to collect plaster casts of the hands of great surgeons and I wonder if you would permit me to do yours. There is no charge, of course; it is for my own amusement.' The visitor would look to Dr. Cushing, who would urge him to go ahead and do it. This took only a few minutes and they would then continue with their walk. Later, of course, the plaster cast was delivered to Dr. Cushing.'"