hammer hijinks

Which is worse: to have your head resting against a concrete floor and then be struck by a hammer (A), or to be standing upright and have your free head be struck by a hammer (B)?

Perhaps these diagrams will help you decide.

head on the ground (a) standing head (b)

If you supposed that situation B was worse, you are correct. In fact, the brain is much more susceptible to injury of motion than it is to the application of forces while in a stationary position. Despite the fact that your head is basically being drilled into the concrete in situation A, the brain is more likely to be protected by the skull and less likely to impact the inside of the cranium. In situation B, the freely-moving head will stop more suddenly than will the brain, and the resulting impact of the brain upon the skull is likely to cause cerebral edema.

Ergo, vis-a-vis, concordantly, the next time someone attacks you with a blunt object, lie down. And pray.

2 thoughts on “hammer hijinks

  1. I refuse to believe that by limiting the mobility of your head by an entire dimension that you are somehow making yourself less susceptible to injury, even of motion. What if the hammer is swung in such a manner to strike you parallel to the concrete?

    Furthermore, the skull is strong, but it’s not hammer + concrete strong. He skull isn’t even foot + concrete strong!

  2. I kid you not. The situation was described by a pathology teacher (former physician) just as above, in which a woman was on the ground and her husband attacked her with a hammer, striking her numerous times in the head. She got up and walked away from the incident, never having lost consciousness.

    Clearly if the blow completely fractures the skull, you’re into a lot of trouble. It’s just for “average” blows, your brain would be better off with the head kept stationary. And different parts of the skull would be stronger than other parts.

    As far as the vector of the force being directed parallel to the concrete, that sounds like a situation where the only inhibition of movement would be the friction between your head and the concrete. It’d be pretty ugly no matter what the outcome.

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