Hermann Oppenheim (1858-1919) was one of the leading neurologists in Germany during the last decade of the nineteenth century. He studied medicine at the universities of Göttingen, Berlin, and Bonn.
After his medical degree (1881) with a thesis on the metabolism of urea, Oppenheim worked at the Charité-Hospital in Berlin as an assistant to Karl Westphal (1833-1890) until 1891 when, after Westphal’s death, he was forced to leave the University and opened a private clinic in Berlin. Even if his hospital was not connected to the University, it soon became an international and successful centre of neurology, attracting numerous students. His textbook on nervous diseases, titled Lehrbuch der Nervenkrankheiten für Ärzte und Studierende, became a landmark in neurological field and was translated in different languages. Oppenheim’s investigations included studies on sclerosis, syphilis, polio, alcoholism, and amyotonia congenita, also known as Oppenheim’s disease. Furthermore he was the first to emphasise the importance of bladder symptoms in disseminated sclerosis and to propose that post-traumatic origin of some psychic neuroses, opposing to theories of Charcot and others on hysteria. Oppenheim was one of the first to use Salvarsan in the treatment of syphilis. His expertise involving brain disease led directly to the first successful removal of a brain tumor, which was performed by Köhler. He also coined the term dystonia musculorum deformans for a type of childhood torsion disease that was later known as Ziehen-Oppenheim syndrome. Other eponyms related to this German neurologist are Minor-Oppenheim syndrome, Oppenheim’s disease and Oppenheim’s reflex.