Safest routes for a projectile through the human head?
January 6, 2014 12:48 PM Subscribe
was famous for "his improbable survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head". How many different ways (depths, angles) could you safely pass such an object through the human head without complete loss of brain function / death?
posted by grog to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I imagine the question is complicated by how different sizes and shapes of objects, at varying speeds, will create a variety of entry and exit trauma. To simplify matters, let the "projectile" be an idealized kind of drill, with as large or small a radius as we want, that might pass through some portion of an adult human head, removing only the material in the path of the drill, leaving the surrounding tissue more or less intact.
What I'm curious to know is, how *much* of the head could you pass such a drill through without irrevocably harming someone? I realize "irrevocable harm" is ambiguous, and brain damage has a wide range of possible effects on a person, so if it makes the question any clearer, we could consider death to be the cutoff for viable trajectories.
It seems like the frontal cortex is pretty robust (as demonstrated by Mr. Gage above), but I imagine the hind brain is much more sensitive to damage. Which trajectories are safest and/or most dangerous? Could you pass something from ear to ear? From the forehead out the back?
I would be especially interested in medical literature and case studies, where possible.