Medical Aspects of Lightning
What Are the Medical Symptoms?
Immediate symptoms of Lightning Injury: Most victims experience only some of the symptoms below.
- Short-term memory
- Problems coding
new information and accessing old information
- Problems Multitasking
- Slower reaction time
- Personality change
- Intense headaches
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
and other post-concussion types of symptoms
- Difficulty sleeping, sometimes sleeping excessively
at first and then only two or three hours at a time
- Seizure-like activity
- Pain from back injury or headaches
- Personality Changes/Self-Isolation
- Irritability and embarrasment because they can't remember people, job responsibilities and key information
- Difficulty carrying on a conversation
Friends, family and co-workers who see
the same external person, may not understand why the survivor
is so different. Friends soon stop coming by or asking them
to participate in activities. Families who are not committed
to each other break up.
What Medical Tests Should Victims Get?
There are two kinds of medical tests:
- Anatomic tests take an x-ray, CT scan and MRIs
or blood count measurement. These tests often come back normal
- Functional tests show how something is
working and are more useful: PET scan, neuropsychological testing
Where Can Victims Get Help?
An organization of tremendous help to survivors,
families, physicians and other professionals is Lightning
Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, International (LSESSI),
a support group formed in 1989 by a lightning victim. LSESSI
has printed materials, offers tremendous support, networks
survivors with others in their area, and provides an annual
meeting where survivors come together for support and lectures
from professionals who work with lightning and electrical
survivors and their families. LSESSI can be reached at 910-346-4708,
or see their Website at http://www.lightning-strike.org/,
or at P.O. Box 1156, Jacksonville, NC 28541-1156.
What Are the Steps to Recovery?
The four most important factors in overcoming
disability from lightning injury, or from any illness or
major injury for that matter are:
- Having a supportive family/friends network.
- Becoming your own advocate and learning
as much as you can about this disability.
- Finding a physician willing to listen, read, learn
and work with the survivor and their family.
- Having a sense of humor.
Learn more at the MedScape victims lightning page
This factsheet courtesy Dr. Mary
Ann Cooper, Professor Emeritus, Departments
of Emergency Medicine and Bioengineering University of Illinois