1. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Questions Regarding Physical Trauma (Disclaimer: Potentially Disturbing Content)

    Discussion in 'Research' started by KaTrian, Jun 7, 2014.

    Question 1: Gun shot wound that won't kill

    A character in my and @T.Trian's WIP is running from the bad guys who shoot to kill. This happens in the near future, but she's wearing armor which would be close to our type VI plate armor (ceramic/steel). An armor-piercing 7.62x51 round should hit her to a spot that would both
    1) be a believable spot so that it doesn't seem like the bad guys are terribly incompetent
    2) doesn't kill her or take her out of the fight or put her on sick leave (from the armed forces) for longer than, say, a month or a bit more.

    Is there a spot on the torso that could only result in a muscle wound? E.g. on the left side, below the ribs? Or possibly around the upper back? How about the butt if the bullet hits at a horizontally diagonal angle (only penetrating the buttock)? Obviously the butt is not protected by plate armor so there the round would pass clean through and wouldn't result in a large cavity either due to the short distance it would travel inside the flesh.

    Bullet specs:
    Weight and type of the projectile: 147 gr (10 g) Armor Piercing (e.g. steel core in a copper jacket)
    Velocity: 2,733 ft/s (833 m/s)
    Energy transferred to target: 2,437 ft·lbf (3,304 J)

    Wound specs:
    Entrance/exit wound: just a pin prick on the surface, about >1/4" under the skin
    Temporary wound cavity (at its widest, starting at 7" into the body): 8"
    Permanent wound cavity (at its widest, starting at 7" into the body): 1,6"
    The thickness of her torso: 6-10"

    Those wound specs do not take the ballistic armor into account, so it's highly probable that the specs are different after the bullet has first penetrated the ceramic/steel plate. At this point it's unclear if it would cause the bullet to start rotating sooner, meaning the wound cavity might get bigger earlier, or if the plate (which peels off at least the copper jacket if not a part of the steel as well) actually makes the wound smaller in the end.

    Damages caused by temporary wound cavities in these kinds of muscle wounds probably aren't all that significant because there's no shattering bone or anything that would cause the bullet to fragment unless the armor plate does that, but the videos of firing AP rounds at such plates appear to show (sometimes it's hard to tell) that the rounds tend to pass through the first plate in one piece or at least without significant fragmentation.

    It's probably difficult to give any accurate estimates, but if someone has a believable injury scenario in mind, that'd be very helpful.


    Question 2: Zapping the balls


    Another character won't obey the bad guys, so they decide to persuade him by tasing his testicles (two separate zaps). Apparently this is extremely excruciating and most likely will result in bruising and burns, but will it leave permanent damage?

    The stun gun used delivers roughly 1,200 volts, the average voltage is 0.76 volts in one second, the duration of the two shocks is a few seconds per shock. The peak power of the device is about 3-amps.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Have you looked at the anatomy?
    [​IMG]

    It would have to be the shoulder missing the lungs if you want this person to keep on fighting. It could also penetrate the intestine, it's life threatening if it isn't treated but it could take 24 hours for the sepsis to knock the person off their feet.
     
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  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know next to nothing about ballistics, but I've seen enough penetrating injuries. As long as the bullet doesn't explode once inside, or does other funny stuff (ie. just enters and lodges in the tissue) it is not at all uncommon to have a bullet miss a vital structure, such as a blood vessel, major nerve, spinal cord or an organ. So if she's shot in the buttock, make it miss the sciatic nerve (look up on google images anatomy pictures, basically, you want the bullet to hit laterally in the upper quadrant of the buttock, the same place where we give intramuscular injections). Likewise, it can hit below the clavicle and miss subclavian artery (look up the pictures , it's easier to get away with it if it hits the left rather than the right). The same goes for abdominal hits, probably left side is better, as the spleen is small in healthy people, but the bullet must miss the vasculature).

    Second part of the question I had to look up, this was interesting:

    The rest of the article is here
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    http://www.trauma.org/archive/abdo/penetrating.html

    Summarizes what I said, if you are talking torso:


    Mechanism of injury
    Overview
     
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  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks a bunch, @GingerCoffee and @jazzabel :) . It probably should be the shoulder or a buttock that gets penetrated (plus the character also gets one graze to the side). Major injuries should be avoided as much as we believably can but still so that the baddies don't look entirely hamhanded with their weapons.

    Back to the drawing board now to construct the scene! :write:
     
  6. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks a lot to both! We decided to go with the butt-shot. The bullet enters in a diagonal angle (diagonal horizontally and vertically), so it travels around 4-5 inches through the flesh, which means the bullet does have time to flip and produce a larger permanent wound cavity.

    We thought about three options where the bullet would hit her:

    1. Above the sciatic nerve, in that "empty" spot between the hip bone and the upper end of the femur.
    2. Underneath the sciatic nerve if her running steps have turned her in relation to the shooter.
    3. The bullet enters through the buttock straight from behind and exits through the front of her inner thigh, but misses the internal iliac artery and vein as well as the femur and ischium (the bullet would pass under the latter). Is there anything else in that area that could cause a more debilitating injury?

    How much would those kind of wounds affect her capacity to sprint, jump etc? We take it bloodloss won't be dangerous if she manages to treat the wound in a couple of minutes.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Number 3. might hit the ovary or fallopian tube in a female, if it goes through far enough. Also, ureter goes down and joins the bladder. Various nerves travel around there, main being the femoral nerve. Maybe, at a stretch, the descending colon might be nicked as well, especially if there's ricochet inside. But, I'd expect this level of detail in an oral exam in med school, you can easily just state that it missed all vital structures or that it embedded in a muscle, and it would be believable in a story.

    The movements involved in running are all quads, hamstrings, calves, feet, hip flexors and extensors and lower back muscles but also upper body, core muscles, even neck. But, as long as nerves aren't severed and muscles aren't ruptured and bones aren't badly broken, one might be able to run through pain due to adrenaline. on the other hand, she might drag one leg behind, feel like it's difficult to raise her leg sufficiently of the ground due to pain or weakness or stiffness in her buttock or hip. If she gets a large haematoma, that might compress things and cause more pain. Buttock shot that damages one of the nerves causes Trendelenburg gait (picture). But this might be more permanent then you'd like.

    Blood loss might not be so bad with the flesh wound. Areas like the scalp bleed profusely, also arteries or veins of sufficient diameter when severed. Even then, arteries tend to go into a spasm, which tamponades the bleeding temporarily. Venous bleeding can be more dangerous, even though the bleeding is slower, there's no spasm in the wall of these vessels, so they need to be either cauterised or tied off, or pressure applied. I would go for a flesh wound that doesn't bleed all that much. The bullet itself can sometimes be tamponading bigger blood loss, same as a stake would, which is why we never advise removal of these things on the scene.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Here's a perfect anatomy link of that area. Click on the image menu to dissect deeper tissues and use the slider on the lower bar to rotate the image.

    http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/female-pelvis
     
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  10. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Any AP round powerful enough to defeat armor is going to have one hell of a lot of velocity, and be moving in a nonlinear fashion due to impacting the armor -- it will still be going pretty fast, and tumbling. Soft tissue damage is going to be severe, the round's path wil not be straight-line, and even in non-vital areas, arterial bleeding can be devastating.
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Answers by committee, very helpful in this case. You always have to consider ballistics along with anatomy.

    Then the question is, will the reader notice?

    I have a scene in my novel where an important character is grabbed by the leg by a large predator and dragged out of his bed roll. The critique group had issues saying the bone would be shattered. But that won't work in the story because the injury has to be something that one could treat with wilderness medicine. There are no surgical options for him, at the time or later.

    So, I decided I don't care. If people don't find it credible, meh, hopefully it won't ruin the story for them. I don't know why an animal bite, even one where the predator drags the victim away, has to be devastating or not devastating. Seems to me the range of injury is wide.
     
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  12. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Ginger is right in the sense that too much effort to detailing an accurate injury can ruin the act of telling the story, which is, after all, the task at hand.
     
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  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you all!

    T and I want to know exactly what happened, but often the exact explanation is not in the story. We want to know everything to keep things cohesive, so that's why in our writing we tend to get a bit anal over some details... especially gun related :whistle:. A scene with a doctor explaing in detail to her what happened sounds tedious and even jarring, but we want to know what happened, how it affects her performance, and so on.

    So thanks so much for your input. :friend:
     
  14. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, everyone! We'll probably go with either option 1 or 2. She gets messed up enough as it is without turning this injury into something more severe as well.

    @Thumpalumpacus, I was guessing the armor would send the bullet tumbling, so that's what made me think about the ass; since it's not covered by armor, the soft tissue damage would probably be a tad less devastating if the bullet doesn't hit anything hard before entering the muscle and if it doesn't travel long enough inside the flesh to start turning properly.
    It's tricky to keep damage to a minimum when dealing with rifle rounds without turning the bad guys into incompetent idiots.
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Like all those movie scenes where the bad guys have machine guns and the good guys take them out with pistols? :rofl:
     
  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's why our good and bad guys have rifles 'cause both machine guns and pistols can turn out to be surprisingly ineffective. :D

    ... and then when both parties are annoyingly effective, T and I are scratching our heads, going "how the hell are we gonna keep our heroes alive?" o_O
     
  17. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, something like that: one of my pet peeves is, be it in books or film, when the bad guys are supposed to be some top level assassins, highly trained ex-commandos or whatever, and somehow they turn into fumbling dilettantes when they go against the hero(ine).

    And it's exactly because we do not want to do that that we have to plan our fight scenes so carefully, think through the choreographies until we've exhausted all possibilities to find the most credible one that still meshes with the story etc.
    This scene is a perfect example of that: we pretty much need to reconstruct the whole chase sequence because the old version made the bad guys look way too incompetent. Oh well, at least it's good exercise for the brains. :D
     

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