Gowers’ sign is a characteristic maneuver used by patients with proximal lower limb and trunk weakness to rise from the ground. From the lying position, the patient rolls to the kneeling position, pushes on the ground with extended forearms to lift the hips and straighten the legs, so forming a triangle with the hips at the apex with hands and feet on the floor forming the base (known in North America as the "butt-first maneuver"). Then the hands are used to push on the knees and so lift up the trunk ("climbing up oneself "). This sign was originally described by Gowers in the context of Duchenne muscular dystrophy but may be seen in other causes of proximal leg and trunk weakness, e.g., Becker muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy.
Gowers was not the first to describe the sign; Bell had reported it almost 50 years before Gowers’ account.
Pearce JMS. Gowers’ sign. In: Pearce JMS. Fragments of neurological history. London: Imperial College Press, 2003: 378-380