Phineas P. Gage

Unquestionably the most notable Head injury of all time was sustained by a man named Phineas P. Gage, known in medical history as the "American Crowbar Case." Gage, a twenty five year old foreman on the Rutland and Burlington Railroad, was preparing a blast of dynamite on September 13. 1847, when the blast went off prematurely, driving a 3 foot long, 13 pound tamping iron completely through the left side of his face. Passing along the left anterior lobe of Gage's cerebrum and out the back of his Head, the bar smashed most of his brain. Though knocked backward by the blast and obviously shaken up, Gage remained conscious after the accident and stayed wide awake while his wound was dressed and doctors examined him. For a short time delirium set in and he lost the sight in his left eye. But shortly after that Gage became rational again and was back at work within several months. He lived for some years after the incident and was studied by innumerable doctors, who could make nothing of the case. After Gage died, the iron bar, along with a cast of the patient's head, was placed in the museum of the Massachusetts Medical College.