Traumatic Brain Injuries — The Case of Asterix & Obelix

I was obsessed with Asterix & Obelix as a kid, so mixing it with neurology puts over the moon, in geekish terms. As you might imagine, I love pretty much everything about the following new paper.

Asterixcover asterix the gaul

First, a few highlights:

  • The authors determine there were over 700 head injuries in the Asterix comics. Wonder if they count every instance with those poor pirates getting sunk.
  • The majority of persons involved were adult and male.
  • No cases of death or permanent impairment were found.
  • The largest group among the injured was Romans, with Gauls the main cause. Well, yes!
  • A helmet had been worn by most victims, but its loss was a primary cause of injury.
  • Ingestion of magic potion was highly correlated with injury.

Lots more:

Traumatic brain injuries in illustrated literature: experience from a series of over 700 head injuries in the Asterix comic books

Background

The goal of the present study was to analyze the epidemiology and specific risk factors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the Asterix illustrated comic books. Among the illustrated literature, TBI is a predominating injury pattern.

Methods

A retrospective analysis of TBI in all 34 Asterix comic books was performed by examining the initial neurological status and signs of TBI. Clinical data were correlated to information regarding the trauma mechanism, the sociocultural background of victims and offenders, and the circumstances of the traumata, to identify specific risk factors.

Results

Seven hundred and four TBIs were identified. The majority of persons involved were adult and male. The major cause of trauma was assault (98.8%). Traumata were classified to be severe in over 50% (GCS 3–8). Different neurological deficits and signs of basal skull fractures were identified. Although over half of head-injury victims had a severe initial impairment of consciousness, no case of death or permanent neurological deficit was found. The largest group of head-injured characters was constituted by Romans (63.9%), while Gauls caused nearly 90% of the TBIs. A helmet had been worn by 70.5% of victims but had been lost in the vast majority of cases (87.7%). In 83% of cases, TBIs were caused under the influence of a doping agent called “the magic potion”.

Conclusions

Although over half of patients had an initially severe impairment of consciousness after TBI, no permanent deficit could be found. Roman nationality, hypoglossal paresis, lost helmet, and ingestion of the magic potion were significantly correlated with severe initial impairment of consciousness (p ≤ 0.05).

 

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Comments

  1. Neel says:

    I loved this comic still today. Another high correlation to getting slammed was when Caconofix would begin to sing. Or Unhygenix would talk about fish.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Davis X. Machina says:

    The 2004 Canadian Medical Association Journal article on the link between Tintin’s failure to experience puberty and his repeated head injuries led the way in this important field.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534570/

  3. ERISAnation says:

    Batman doesn't wear a helmet. Captain America sometimes does, sometimes doesn't, depending upon iteration. Haven't seen any hero end up like Mohammed Ali.