case studies

While the case of Phineas Gage has been highly published, it is still an unusual case. Twenty-Five year old Gage was working for a railroad company in Vermont, and working with explosives to clear pathways. It was on September 13, 1848 that an accidental explosion caused a tamping iron to blow out of the hole and go directly into Gage's skull. The iron entered the skull beneath his left cheek, destroying his eye and ripping through the front portion of his brain. According to witnesses, he only briefly lost consciousness and was immediately taken to a doctor. Despite his injuries, Gage was somehow able to both walk and talk. Gage was largely unaffected by the accident, left with scars from the injury, but still able to think, speak and move as he had before. However, it was reported that Gage's personality changed horrifically, becoming hostile and irresponsible. After time, the effects of his injuries did take their toll; Gage starting experiencing epileptic seizures in 1861 ultimately leading to his death later that year.
external image phineas_gage_from_uiowa_d_neurology.jpg

The picture above is that of a 32-year old male with a history of self-injury. He drilled a hole into his head and subsequently put the wire from a sketchpad inside of his brain. It was later successfully removed and he recovered excellently.

The case of CindyLou Romberg is an interesting one not because of her injury itself, but for how it affected her. Romberg fell off the back of her motorcycle in 1981, splitting her skull open. She made a full recovery, however experienced terrible headaches and neck pain. It wasn't until years later when she went to a chiropractor that things became odd. After her visit to the chiropractor she began to speak gibberish, eventually finding her words, but speaking in a different accent. The trauma in her brain had damaged her speech and caused her to develop Foreign Accent Syndrome. It is extremely rare, having only about 50 confirmed cases. It typically correlates with severe brain trauma, such as Romberg experienced.