Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science
Phineas Gage's accident changed him and brain science forever.
After the Accident
Phineas Gage was a foreman for a railroad company in Vermont. He would blast huge rocks apart. He would drill holes in rocks and put gunpowder and a fuse in it. He did a lot of muscle work and worker with touchy explosives.Then sand would be put in the hole and he would tamp the hole with a three foot tamping rod. He was twenty-six years old when he had an accident at the railroad site. He was unmarried with no children and had and iron frame. After his accident he would never be the same.
Phineas Gage had an accident where they were building a railroad. When he was tamping a rock sand was not put into the hole. When he tamped the rock the explosion sent his tamping rod flew through his head and about eighty feet away. The rod went in through his left cheek, behind his left eye, and out his forehead. It went through the frontal cortex of his brain.
After the accident, he was rushed into a wagon and brought into town. He acted completely fine and sat up in the wagon. He had an open brain injury. He should have died right away but surprisingly, he survived. At first Doctor Williams took care of him at first, and then Doctor Harlow did. Phineas' brain was visible and he was bleeding a lot. There was a hole in the roof of his mouth and his hands and forearms were burnt. He lost several teacups of brain.
Phineas was saved by good luck and good care from Doctor Harlow. He developed an abscess fourteen days after the accident and Doctor Harlow drained it. Ten weeks after his accident, Phineas was declared healed. He could walk a little bit, speak clearly, eat, sing, and dress himself. He would roam around and act rude. His character completely changed. The decision making part of his brain was completely compromised. He never gained emotional and intellectual self control and balance. He survived physically.
Phineas Gage went on to work at the Barnum stage circus as a freak. Then, he moved to Chile and worked as a stage coach driver because he didn't have to interact with people. He died eleven years after the accident because of an epilepsy. He became a textbook case for brain science. It has been more than 150 years since his accident and we are still learning more about Phineas Gage.