Construction Worker Impaled Through The Brain Is A Modern-Day Phineas Gauge

If you've ever taken a psychology course, you'll have heard of Phineas Gage, the man who survived having a railroad tie driven through his skull. It sounds like a one-of-a-kind thing, but a Brazilian construction worker just survived a similar injury.

Eduardo Leite, the 24-year-old construction worker with a hell of a lot of luck, fell off the fifth floor of a building under construction and landed on a 1.8m iron bar that pierced both his hard hat and the back of his skull, popping out right between his eyes. Even after getting the new hole in his head, Leite remained conscious and lucid, eventually telling doctors what had happened to him.

The bar was carefully removed in a gruelling five-hour surgery. Luiz Alexandre Essinger, chief of staff at the hospital where Leite was treated, told the AP:

He was taken to the operating room, his skull was opened, they examined the brain and the surgeon decided to pull the metal bar out from the front in the same direction it entered the brain ... Today, he continues well, with few complaints for a five-hour-long surgery. He says he feels little pain.

The specific function of the damaged part of Leite's brain isn't known, but it seemingly isn't required stay alive. Leite is likely to remain at the hospital for up to two weeks following the surgery, and exactly what has happened to his brain probably won't be clear until he starts getting back to "normal" life. Whatever the damage may be, he's damn lucky to be alive. [The Guardian]



    No doubt this story will have a sad ending. poor guy.

    Depression and personality changes are sure to follow :(

      What do you base this on? I've been studying psychology for a year now, it's been quite interesting studying head trauma. This isn't the case in a lot of situations. Quite a few people go quite the opposite route and tend to embrace life. It can depend on the areas of the brain affected, if he's received counselling after, if he has support from family etc. Don't count someone out if you don't know their circumstances.

        Agreed. Phineas Gage was a long time ago and psychological treatment on severe brain trauma sufferers has made incredible advances, especially over the last 20 years.

        Jono might be referring to the fact that Leite has suffered a traumatic frontal lobe +/- prefrontal cortex injury (evident by the location of the spike). Commonly result in personality change, disinhibition and not uncommonly depression.

          This is possible, they're the textbook situations but again, the treatment is also where its at with these situations. No doubt depression would set in with the idea of getting a giant spike through your head at some point. With possible medication application, psychological assessment and rehabilitation, his mental health will hopefully be ok. Hopefully.

            I think Jono is trying quite hard to see only the worst outcome.
            "NO DOUBT the story will have a sad ending"?
            "Depression and personality changes are SURE to follow"?
            Hardly sounds like the reasonably qualified assessment of a trained professional. He may well recover with few ill affects - I hope to hear more on this story!

              There is no medication or counselling that changes the organic damage of a destroyed frontal lobe. Hope and wishful thinking don't change that.

                But they can be used to adjust chemicals inside the brain in an attempt to counter any changes caused by the damage.

        Pathology concerned

        Meta-analysis of individuals and overall rate of change in personality - results show overall significant alterations in personality to be asynchronous to negative behaviours (degenerative impacts are asynchronous to traums and lesioning whereby regional function loss is established)

    Its certainly possible, for anyone interested (since im not far off being a fully qualified psych) I would say a good reason why it didn't kill him was because (from the looks) it only pierced one of the hemispheres of his frontal lobes. If the rod had penitential through the center (vital brain function parts) or the back (vital life function parts eg, heart, temp) he would have been a total goner. This man is likely down the line to have major personality changes, old memory loss and frequent seizures. Still amazingly lucky to be alive.

    I can see his front tooth is chipped what a shame :(

      I lol'd

        I wonder if when he was describing what had happened to him to the doctors if he said "Yeah I fell and chipped my tooth, and somehow I ended up feeling a bit like Mr Swiggle, but doc please fix my chipped tooth!" I hope he gets better, and I hope he has asked someone to buy a lottery ticket for him. He deserves it!

    I just find it amazing that ppl with a giant freaking railroad tie through their heads miraculously survive. o__o

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