Almost everyone involved in representing or treating persons with traumatic brain injury is aware of the history and story of Phineas Gage. Mr. Gage, in 1848, was working as a railroad foreman for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad. Although accounts differ as to how his accident occurred, needless to say, while tamping gunpowder with an iron rod an explosion occurred causing the 13 ¼ pound tamping iron to be propelled. The iron entered Gage’s head point-first, striking below the left cheekbone. It passed behind his left eye and tore into his brain’s left frontal lobe. The incident has become a textbook lesson as it is claimed that Phineas Gage never lost consciousness despite having suffered a significant traumatic brain injury. Accounts of his life depict that Phineas Gage’s behavior was significantly changed for the worse following this incident.
I bring this story to everyone’s attention as a new article by Sam Kean entitled “Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient” was recently published online in Slate. A link to this interesting medical story can be found by clicking here.