Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Boy’s Brain Impaled By Deer Antler

In a response to a “What are You Thankful For” request by ABC4.com, a rare and interesting neurological case study was described: penetration of the brain by a deer antler. CNN.com also has a video describing the event and the injury. In a nutshell, 5-year-old Connor Schick found a deer antler during an outdoor vacation in July. He tripped while carrying it, he fell on it, and it penetrated his brain through his eyesocket. (OUCH) Below is the MRI of his injury, with his doctor holding up the offending antler for dramatic effect.

i-31838aabfabaf369b6b2e5b26302f45c-antler brain 2.bmp
Credit: CNN.com

Connor was quite lucky. Not only did he survive, but is making a full recovery after antibiotic therapy, with no permanent behavioral consequences. Despite being inserted three or four inches into the frontal lobes, the antler amazingly missed his eye, the ocular muscles, and any important vascular structures. As I’ve reported before, foreign objects introduced to the brain via the eye sockets can be deadly.

Comments

  1. #1 Bryce M
    November 27, 2007

    Hopefully “Deer antler kid” isn’t a nickname that will stick long. That would probably cause some behavioral consequences.

  2. #2 Kevin
    November 27, 2007

    There is a similar story in today’s edition of Britain’s Daily Mail, An Indian teen survived a 4ft metal pole rammed through his head. (includes an X-ray photo).

    Link

    It would be interesting to see follow up stories in a few years to see if they suffer any behavioral changes ala Phineas Gage

  3. #3 Warren
    November 28, 2007

    Jeez!

    And where were mom and/or dad, warning him not to run with that antler and to carry it point-downward?

  4. #4 oleblue
    November 28, 2007

    Wow…that had to be painful.

    Reminds me when training for the Combat Lifesaver course in the Army. I watched a video of a Doctor pulling a bullet out of someone’s brain through his eye.

  5. #5 Glendon Mellow
    November 28, 2007

    Umm, yeah, wow Shelley. You’ve posted similar stories before, but that one made my saliva evaporate and my mouth feel like sand.

    Freaky. Glad the kid’s okay. That’s a couple of kinds of amazing.

  6. #6 Caledonian
    November 28, 2007

    Fortunately, the kid is still young enough to have a lot of neural plasticity.

    Unfortunately, he’s not old enough for us to get a clear sense of what he would have been like if this injury had not occurred, which will make it difficult to judge whether he’s been permanently impaired.

    We could compare him to population norms, of course, but that tells us very little.

  7. #7 Barn Owl
    November 28, 2007

    Thank evolution for orbital fat!

  8. #8 Azkyroth
    November 29, 2007

    And where were mom and/or dad, warning him not to run with that antler and to carry it point-downward?

    I’m relieved to know I’m not the only appalled parent. Poor kid…I’m glad he made it. x.x

  9. #9 Alan Kellogg
    November 29, 2007

    Folks, five year olds aint got the sense God gave a cucumber. Any admonition you give them goes in one ear and right out the other. As cute and personable as they are, you just can’t rely on them to do what you tell them. It’s not that they don’t listen, they just don’t remember.

  10. #10 MBL
    November 29, 2007

    I’m not completely convinced that the first four words of the last sentence are really necessary. :-)

  11. #11 Shelley Batts
    November 29, 2007

    MBL: Acutally it takes a pretty unusual and severe accident (or a lot of dedication, in the case of the pen) to die from that type of injury. Mainly because there is a plate of bone behind the orbital which prevents objects from entering the brain from the eye socket. So and object would have to be shoved with quite a lto of force to break through the bone, rather than just cause soft tissue injury to the eye/fascia.

  12. #12 Azkyroth
    November 29, 2007

    Folks, five year olds aint got the sense God gave a cucumber. Any admonition you give them goes in one ear and right out the other. As cute and personable as they are, you just can’t rely on them to do what you tell them. It’s not that they don’t listen, they just don’t remember.

    I don’t know; about things like scissors I generally listened.

  13. #13 brook
    December 1, 2007

    As the mother of active and inquisitive children I count my blessings that the worst injuries I’ve had to deal with are a broken leg, assorted stitches and a knocked out permananent 3 miles from the nearest road and 20 miles or so from the nearest hospital.

    Accidents happen. The parents were probably within five feet telling him to be careful, yet willing to accept that sometimes all the words in the world mean less than one antler through the eyesocket.

    Still, as a mom, this one ranks right up there on the ewwwww scale.

  14. #14 Shelley Batts
    December 1, 2007

    It seems unfair to blame the parents for a freak accident. Most people could attest that 5 year olds aren’t the best listeners (or just forget), and that kids get cut and scrapes and broken bones despite the best efforts and supervision of parents. This just happened to be a more drastic example.

    The important thing is that they received immediate medical help for him and excellent care, resulting in no permanent injury. Watch the video I linked to, obviously he has caring parents.

  15. #15 Melissa Schick
    December 9, 2007

    I just read all of the above comments…I am the mom of this very energetic 5 year old boy. He found the antler just moments before he tripped, as soon as he picked it up I told him “please be careful with that because if you fall it will really hurt you”. I think back to that very second every day…I wish I would have just took it out of his hand and threw it over in the trees. Just a few minutes after that he was walking back to camp with our small dog, the dog darted in front of him & he fell, because of the curve of the antler it penetrated the orbital lobe. This was a very frightening experience for everyone envolved. He is an adorable child and anyone with children should understand that no matter what the situation if they are faced with losing that child would beat themselves up worse than anyone on any blog or comment area would with the “should have” or “why didn’t I”. I honestly hate camping I went simply because it is what my children love to do. I appreciate everyone who has positive things to say and for those who do not…I hope nothing like this ever happens in your family.

  16. #16 filim
    November 17, 2008

    Umm, yeah, wow Shelley. You’ve posted similar stories before, but that one made my saliva evaporate and my mouth feel like sand.

    Freaky. Glad the kid’s okay. That’s a couple of kinds of amazing.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.