Tamping explosivesFig. 8. The charge of powder is shown at C, the insulator at B and the tamping at A. (from the December 12, 1891, issue of Scientific American Supplement)
The AccidentSeptember 13, 1848 Cavendish, Vermont
the tamping iron struck a spark against the rock and the powder exploded. The tamping iron rocketed out of the hole and entered on the side of his face... passing back of the left eye, and out at the top of the head.
I first noticed the wound upon the head before I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinctMr. Gage, during the time I was examining this wound, was relating the manner in which he was injured to the bystandersMr. Gage persisted in saying that the bar went through his head[he] got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain, which fell upon the floor.
Harlow cleaned Gages wounds by removing small fragments of bone, and replaced some of the larger skull fragments that remained attached but had been displaced by the tamping iron. He then closed the larger wound at the top of Gages head with adhesive straps, and covered the opening with a wet compress.
Gages wounds were not treated surgically, but were instead left open to drain into the dressings.
The red area indicates the damaged sections of Gages frontal lobe.
The functions of the frontal lobes include the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress socially unacceptable behavior, and determine similarities and differences between things or events.
The equilibrium or balance, so to speak, between his intellectual faculties and animal propensities, seems to have been destroyed. He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom)In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was no longer Gage.
Unable to return to his railroad job, from 1849 to 1852 Gage worked at a livery stable in New Hampshire, making occasional public appearances with his tamping rod in the surrounding towns.
This is the bar that was shot through the head of MrPhinehas P. Gage at Cavendish, Vermont, Sept. 14 [sic], 1848. He fully recovered from the injury & deposited this bar in the Museum of the Medical College of Harvard University. Phinehas P. Gage Lebanon Grafton Cy N-H Jan 6 1850.Inscribed on Gages tamping iron:
In 1852, Gage was invited to Chile to work as a long-distance stagecoach driver hauling cargo.
Gage began to have epileptic seizures in 1859, he moved to San Francisco to be cared for by his mother and sisters.
Died May 21, 1860 at 36 12 years after the accident.
Gages body was exhumed in 1867 and the skull and tamping iron were removed they are now at the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard University School of Medicine.