History: How this man and a wayward crowbar changed the face of neuroscience forever

The curious case of Phineas Gage, who took an iron rod to the brain and lived to tell the tale

This bizarre story from the annals of medical history has 'occupational health and safety lawsuit' written all over it.

Phineas Gage

A foreman for the American railroad in 1848, Phineas Gage’s bad workday would see him become a worldwide clinical curiosity and one of neuroscience’s most famous patients.

Gage was compacting explosive powder into a hole with a tamping iron when it inadvertently ignited, and the 25-year-old took the metre-long, 6kg crowbar right in the face.

It rocketed up into his left cheek, tore through his brain and exited the back of his