For this bizarre story I thank the incomparable Vaughan Bell, who writes brilliantly on all things neuro, psych, and weird. Follow him at Twitter, at Mind Hacks, where he frequently blogs, and in his work for the Guardian and Slate. He’s amazing. And he brought this to Mind Hacks:
A case report in Forensic Science International describes a man who had a taser dart penetate his skull and damage his frontal lobes after getting in a drunken confrontation with police.
Curiously, the man was unaware he had a taser dart in his brain and only went to hospital after he got home and noticed the dart sticking out of his head.
A 27 old man was immobilized by the police while he struggled with a police officer during an identification check and attempted an escape. He had a high level of alcohol at the time of the arrest. A X26 Taser was used to incapacitate and subdue the victim.
No immediate medical examination was subsequently performed in the patient after the wires were propelled and he was allowed to return home. However, because he complained of a headache, he decided to go to the nearest hospital a few hours later.
Upon presentation at the Emergency Department the patient was conscious. The examination revealed a harpoon-like barbed electrode dart implanted in the right frontal part of the skull and a right peri-orbital bruise…
The brain CT scan revealed an encephalic injury in the right area of the frontal lobe. In fact, the probe was implanted in the frontal area of the skull and then in the right frontal cortex with a penetration depth of a few millimeters.
There’s a moral in this story somewhere but damned if I can find it.
One moral might be: Here’s one more piece of evidence that tasers aren’t quite as safe as we’re told. It certainly seems obvious they shouldn’t be directed at the head. The journal article has a short review of overlooked hazards and deaths in its penultimate section; they include pharyngeal performation, daarts in the eyes, and some deaths.