How a Lightning Bolt Cured a Blind Man

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being struck by lightning a shocking concept there are many cases where very unlucky people have been struck by lightning and lost their life but mostly people survived lightning strikes only about 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are victims leaving 90 percent with various degrees of disability the one case that stands out is a report on a blind man regaining his eyesight after being struck by lightning if comic books have taught me anything it's that being struck by lightning will either turn you to ash or give you superpowers so what happened here we're going to explore if lightning can be the next natural remedy craze but first we're looking into a mystery not telling you what might or might not cure you from any medical condition if you get struck by lightning or receive an electric shock chances are you will have injuries that may even be fatal this is meant to be an unbiased approach and exploration of a documented medical phenomenon with that out of the way let's get into it our story begins in fall mouth Maine in June 1980 where a 62 year old man edwin e robinson was outside his backyard clucking for his pet chicken tuck-tuck during his search for tuk-tuk a storm rolled in leading edwin takes shelter beneath a poplar tree moments later ed room was suddenly struck by a bolt of lightning knocking him to the ground leaving him unconscious for 20 minutes he describes the event as if sounded like someone snapped a whip I fell right on the ground face forward the next thing I knew I came to face down in the water at the foot of the tree weak and dehydrated he returned to his bedroom for a nap my legs were like rubber my whole body felt like it was trembling he said the lightning also broke his hearing aid and then he says he saw it was in the front room where he'd stopped on the couch before heading into the kitchen to eat a sandwich with his wife I was sitting there he says and I said to her do you know I can see that plaque on the wall it was one our grandchildren had made and not only that I told her I can read it so she said yeah yeah yeah and do you already know what it says so that doesn't mean a thing how about looking at the clock over there on the wall tell me what time it is and he looked at the clock and said it's six minutes after 5:00 his sight was 20/20 and he could now hear without his fried hearing aid so how did edwin miraculously regain his eyesight and restore his hearing first we need to explore what happens when a person is struck by lightning before I can talk about what lightning is let's first make sure we have a grasp on what electricity is yay science electricity happens when charge flows from one point to another charge is caused by having too much or too little of particles called electrons electrons always carry a negative charge so when you have too many electrons you'll have a negative charge and when you have too little you'll have a positive charge when two points have different charge electrons will flow from one point to the other to equalize their charges the amount of charge difference between the two points is called voltage and voltage is usually used to describe the strength of the electricity inside a cloud ice and water particles are constantly flying around and bumping into one another the friction that occurs when these particles bump into each other can cause a phenomenon known as frictional charging frictional charging is when objects exchange electrons by rubbing against each other the rubbing leaves one object with more electrons than the other and thus creates a negative charge on one and a positive charge on the other a simple example of this is when you rub your socked feet on a carpet through friction you develop a charge and can now find some unknowing victim lacking a charge and zap the poor fool with your equalizing exchange of electrons back inside the cloud particles are developing charges through frictional charging the negatively charged particles will settle to the bottom of the cloud because they are heavier than the positively charged particles which will rise to the top now we have an angry storm cloud with a very negatively charged bottom when the ground below has a positive charge then the angry cloud will shoot as many as a billion trillion electrons yup that's a real number folks down at the ground in the form of a lightning bolt in order to equalize their charges this type of lightning is especially dangerous to people who are outdoors during a thunderstorm because a lightning strike zone can carry thousands of volts of electricity per square foot lightning is also hotter than the surface of the Sun and can reach temperatures around 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit huh and so far the cons are really outweighing the pros for being struck by lightning but what are the odds of even being caught in this violent exchange of ions Mary Ann Cooper MD professor emerita of emergency medicine who spearheaded the lightning injury research program wrote that the US average is 73 reported lightning fatalities per year only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning don't survive leaving 90% with various degrees of disability the odds of being struck by lightning in a year is reportedly 1 in 700,000 while the odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000 that's a higher chance of being struck by a falling coconut one in fifty point seven million and a way lower chance than being born with 11 fingers or toes one in 500 though I found a fun way to decrease those chances even further I'll just never go outside ever again one in 3,000 sounds like a very high number but prevention is key staying indoors during a thunderstorm away from windows and doors and from conductive objects such as telephone wires or metal pipes is the most helpful thing you can do to avoid injury but in the case where someone is actually hit by lightning what happens to their body according to the National Weather Service typical lightning flash contains about 300 million volts of electricity or enough power to light a 100 watt compact fluorescent bulb for a year this amount of electricity coursing through the body damages a human being in a few different ways Joseph Zito MD associate director of intensive and critical care at Franklin Hospital in Long Island New York says lightning does a lot of damage to the tissues and causes burning it's an electrical burn in its simplest form it's a lot of voltage the bolt travels through the body and causes an entrance and exit wound like a gunshot this unfortunately doesn't really give you superpowers like the flash the main damage of lightning is on the heart as it can cause cardiac arrest which medically speaking is the opposite of having superpowers in fact most lightning fatalities are because of a heart attack when we're shocking someone whose heart is not functioning we're doing the same thing but at a smaller level says dr. Zito lightning usually travels down the nervous system through the tissue what ends up happening are issues with neurological activity in cardiac issues such as cardiac arrhythmias lightnings extremely high temperature causes burning and scarring which marks the victim with a lightning like scarred known as a Lichtenberg figure most victims are left with lifelong medical issues that can be debilitating including chronic pain and neurological problems such as issues with memory and cognition lightning can also cause nerve damage leading to symptoms such as chronic tingling numbness and pain in order to understand how lightning cured Edwin Robinson's eyesight and hearing we need to understand how he lost his eyesight in the first place nine years before he was hit by lightning Edwin became blind as a result of a car accident this is a crucial point as Edwin wasn't blind at birth rather he lost his eyesight due to a trauma our go-to lightning injury expert dr. Cooper was also quoted in the journal seminars in Neurology regarding Edwin's case an elderly gentleman who was cured of his blindness and deafness by a lightning strike those of us who were consulted on this knew that these were hysterical complaints suffered as a result of a truck accident many years before but forbade the press to quote us out of respect for the gentleman Edwin's blindness that manifested later in life as a result of an accident was something that ancient Egyptians had known about recorded historical documents describing blindness paralysis and other neurological symptoms date back at 1825 BCE research published in The Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists describes how ancient Egyptians tried to cure these diseases they thought that using a ritual such as placing the vitreous humor of a Hogs eye into the patient's ear and chanting a spell was supposed to exchange the blind eye of the patient for the healthy eye of an animal well nobody said the ancient Egyptians knew everything as they didn't quite know how the human brain worked they thought that hysteria was caused by the uterus roaming freely inside a woman's body and tried to find ways to fix it back to its natural position you know I'd be worried about that thought giving me nightmares thankfully I don't sleep this type of blindness or deafness that dubbed hysterical is now called conversion disorder and although we know it's psychological we still have a lot to learn about it according to the research published in the journal innovations in clinical neuroscience scientists have yet to figure out what part of the brain causes this type of psychological conflict between the mind and body but patients diagnosed with conversion disorder are not feigning the science and symptoms despite the lack of a definitive diagnosis to pinpoint the source the patient's distress is very realized they cannot control their physical symptoms such as blindness paralysis and seizures willingly and when he Robinson's blindness was caused by the traffic accident he was in in 1971 he was on an icy overpass on the highway in which his truck jackknifed and crashed through a guardrail he had been blind for nine years before he got his vision back dr. William F Taylor Edwin's family physician examined Edwin and confirmed he had regained both sight and hearing Taylor said the rubber soled shoes Edwin was wearing when struck by lightning may have saved his life wait just a second the National Weather Service says that rubber soled shoes do not protect you from being struck by lightning even the rubber has a low conductivity if the Lightning's voltage is strong enough to make it through the vast amount of air which has an even lower conductivity than rubber by the way then a small amount of rubber will have no hope of stopping it so if shoes can't protect you from being struck by lightning then what did dr. Taylor mean when he said that Edwin's rubber soled shoes may have saved his life well what if Edwin didn't get hit by lightning at all what if the shoes protected him from something known as step potential step potential is a phenomenon that occurs when lightning strikes a point and it's charges spread outward across the ground this charge decreases as it gets further away from the strike point therefore two points at different distances from the strike point would have different charges and what happens when two different charges are connected electricity happens so returning to our old boy Edwin here I hypothesized that the lightning struck the tree he was using as shelter the charge radiated across the ground when he was standing his feet were at two different charge points and a current would have traveled through Edwin's body from one foot to the other and electrocuted him if Edwyn had not been wearing rubber soled shoes none of the reports on edwin's case cite any injuries or symptoms that should be present with a lightning strike victim what we do know about edwin is that he heard loud noise was knocked unconscious woke up with regained eyesight using those facts I suspect that lightning struck the poplar tree and that Edwin was knocked out because he hit his head from falling face forward onto the ground not from the Lightning directly this of course would scare the bejesus out of anyone blind or not which leads us to the mysterious cure of Edwin sight Edwin's ophthalmologist dr. Albert Moulton of Portland attributed the event to trauma it was traumatic when he lost his sight so maybe his sight was restored by this trauma anything is possible so possibly edwin's hysterical blindness was cured by the trauma of experiencing a lightning strike feet away from him rather than the Lightning itself so I'd hold off on booking any lightning electroshock therapy sessions for the time being other doctors were also skeptical about the lightning cure a neuro-ophthalmologist with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital said there's something very very screwy about this case in my opinion from what I've read it's really not physiologically possible to be blind from a brain lesion and then all of a sudden after all those years to get your vision back the odds are that this is probably hysterical and that this guy for one reason or another decided he wanted to see again Malvin Krynn a Washington ophthalmologist an attending physician at George Washington University Medical Center said now a guy comes along in nine years later he has electroshock therapy so to speak well how do you explain it you have to assume that it was some sort of contusion or concussion to the optic nerve now to understand how the Electra chakra stimulated things to start functioning again I don't know several medical experts in the Boston area who had not examined Edwin but were questioned by the Boston Globe said his case appeared to be a classic picture of hysterical blindness and hysterical deafness in such cases the victims of hysterical reactions are not faking but there is no physical cause for their condition it's probably the most logical diagnosis agreed after Albert Moulton but he added Edwin was no less blind with that kind of blindness and while Edwin's case can be described as a lower possibility than one in a million other cases of being cured by lightning were reported about blindness deafness and different diseases according to Paul F Eve author of a collection of remarkable cases in surgery there was a case documented in Brewster's philosophical journal regarding a passenger on a ship called the New York a stroke of lightning struck the ship during a thunderstorm a passenger very old and overgrown with fat was so much palsied a fancy word which here means to be paralyzed that for three years he had never been able to walk above half a mile soon after the discharge of electric fluid which took place near to where the poor invalid was lying he was observed with astonishment parading the deck which he continued to do for some time as if he had never been ill another case documented in The Lancet journal in 1855 Rubin Stevenson a Plowman from Lang Toft England was in a field with his two horses when lightning struck them Stevenson visited the doctor for examination after the accident his doctor found he was suffering from a malignant cancer on his lip an arrangement was made for the removal of the cancer by operation just when this was on the point of being performed it was discovered that a healing process had been commenced in the lip and the man was completely cured and in July 1914 a miner called Isaac Barnes had his sight restored by lightening just twenty-five hours after another lightning strike had taken it since 1980 we've gotten updates about edwin's situation a few times in 1984 edwin was saying that his vision remains 20/20 plus his hearing was fine and he was still glad he went out into the yard during a storm in 1990 edwin was even featured in an advertisement posing for Timex featuring a new dress wash from the men's fashion collection and highlighting the water-resistant design in 2008 on the weekend America podcast Edwin Robinson's son Lee Robinson was heard in an interview retelling the story of what happened to his father I think if you talk to anybody else that was around when this incident happened they would say that it was actually I guess you could say there is a bit of luck in there yes otherwise he literally should have been killed by the lightning yes while Edwin's hysterical blindness may not have been cured directly with an electrical shock scientists have been trying to use electrical stimulation in order to restore vision in different studies a study published in the annual review of vision science in 2017 suggests that electrical stimulation of the cerebral cortex is a powerful tool for exploring cortical function stimulation of early visual cortical areas is easily detected by subjects and produces simple visual percepts known as phosphenes that are defined by a luminous image when the retina is stimulated similar to what you can see when you apply pressure onto your eyeball or over your eyelids when your eyes are closed the study goes on to say a device implanted in visual cortex that generates patterns of phosphenes could be used as a substitute for natural vision in blind patients another study produced favorable results by using tiny electrodes to trigger visual sensations using micro electrodes on rhesus monkeys trained to report electrical micro stimulation on their primary visual cortex researchers found that repeated electrical micro stimulation increased the threshold of sensory detection although these types of micro stimulation experiments to make a fully functional eye prosthetic hasn't been successful yet mentioning how legally blind people lose their vision here is also important the National Federation of the blind says that there are no generally accepted definitions for visually impaired low vision or vision loss the statutory definition of legally blind is that the central visual acuity must be 2200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction or that the visual field must be 20 degrees or less a lot of people who are legally blind lose their central vision first some advanced technology wearables have been developed to restore central vision by using high-speed cameras and maximize the users peripheral vision to help patch the central vision as much as possible a similar pair of smart glasses was developed by dr. Stephen Hicks at the University of Oxford aimed to make them most of the remaining sight the majority of blind people have left and was able to show depth using brightness making anything that's close to the wear brighter since most visually impaired people can distinguish light and dark this enabled them to discern people and obstacles the smart glasses also used a custom software to recognize signs seeing this type of development gives humanity quite a bit of hope for future vision prosthetic developments and make the world more accessible all that aside while Edwin's case was a combination of a lot of coincidences maybe you shouldn't be chasing your chicken named tuk-tuk in the middle of a thunderstorm
Channel: Brew
Views: 422,973
Rating: 4.9076543 out of 5
Keywords: solved mysteries, unsolved, unsolved mysteries, unsolved cases, mystery, unsolved mystery, investigation, investigate, theory, mysteries unsolved, mysteries solved, solved mystery, theories, brew, lightning cures blind man
Id: LP3opRR8J7c
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Length: 17min 50sec (1070 seconds)
Published: Thu Jun 20 2019
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