Lightning #3: Lightning-Related Injury
Injury can be caused by:
Direct effects of electricity on the nervous system.
Heat that is caused by the resistance of the current across or through the body.
Concussive effect of the shock wave of thunder.
Explosive force on other objects can hurl debris. Water – steam expands 1700x’s.
Confusion – Amnesia ( hours to days )
Temporary deafness – Temporary blindness – Temporary loss of consciousness
Cutaneous burns – Contusions – minor blunt trauma & injuries
Paresthesias – Muscular pain
Tympanic membrane rupture
Mild transient hypertension
Cognitive damage to learning, thinking, or memory
Moderate: Temporary – to – permanent
Eyes – cataracts
Disoriented – combative – comatose
Diminished or absent pulses – Hypotension
Fractures – Spinal shock – spinal fractures
Temporary cardiopulmonary standstill or Respiratory arrest – can lead to cardiac arrest
1st and 2nd degree thermal burns
Ruptured tympanic membrane – Hemotympanum – may indicate basilar skull fracture
Cardiac arrest – asystole, ventricular fibrillation
Direct brain damage
Hematologic disorders – DIC
Basilar skull fracture
For more detailed information about lightning and lightning-related injuries see the Wilderness Medicine Newsletter, Lightning – Beauty & the Beast, July/August 2003.
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