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The Chances of Recovering from Brain Trauma: Past Cases Show Why Millimeters Matter [Slide Show]

As doctors continue to monitor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's condition, previous cases of brain injury resulting from bullets and other assaults can help explain what happens to the nervous system during major injuries--and how those rare recoveries are possible

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Bob Woodruff

Perhaps the vast majority of brain injuries happen not from penetration, such as a gunshot wound, but are so-called closed-head injuries that occur when the brain is assaulted by outside force—whether that is from a car crash or a nearby explosion.....[ More ]

Columbine Survivor

If a bullet does not pass all the way through the head at the time of the shooting, doctors will often try to remove it surgically to reduce the risk of infection. But if the projectile is lodged too deeply or in too sensitive a brain area, occasionally, it will be left in.....[ More ]

George Wallace

Bullets do not have to enter the brain to do lasting neurological damage. In 1972 presidential hopeful and Alabama Governor George Wallace was shot several times with a .38-caliber gun at a distance of slightly less than half a meter.....[ More ]

Phineas Gage

In one of the most famous examples of penetrating brain injury, an explosion sent a metal rod through railroad-worker Phineas Gage's head. The rod, protruding from his left cheekbone and the top of his skull, passed through the brain's frontal lobes, which are responsible for personality among other advanced functions.....[ More ]

James Brady

A minority of people who suffer a gunshot wound to the head survive. A bullet that traveled through both brain hemispheres left President Ronald Reagan's press secretary James Brady partially disabled after a 1981 assassination attempt that also injured the president .....[ More ]

Robert F. Kennedy

When presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D–N.Y.) was shot with a .22-caliber revolver in 1968, one of the bullets tore through his torso, another traveled from his armpit through the back of his neck, and a third entered his head behind his right ear.....[ More ]

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