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Electronic devices worsen lightning injuries
The electric current left red burn lines running from where the IPod had been strapped to his chest up the sides of his neck. It ruptured both ear drums, dislocated tiny ear bones that transmit sound waves and broke the man’s jaw in four places, said Dr. Eric Heffernan, an imaging specialist at Vancouver General Hospital.
The injury happened two summers ago and despite treatment, the man still has less than 50 percent of normal hearing on each side, must wear hearing aids and can’t hear high-pitched sounds.
“He’s a part-time musician, so that’s kind of messed up his hobby as well,” Dr. Heffernan said.
Like the Colorado teen, the Canadian patient, who declined to be interviewed or identified, has no memory of the lightning strike.
In another case a few years ago, electrical current from a lightning strike ran through a man’s pager, burning both him and his girlfriend who was leaning against him, said Dr. Vince Mosesso, an emergency doctor at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Eardrum ruptures are considered the most common ear injury of lightning-strike victims, occurring in 5 percent to 50 percent of patients, according to various estimates — whether or not an electronic device is involved. A broken jaw is rare, doctors say.
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