Danger of epilepsy after being hit by a golf ball

January 24, 2000

[Golf ball epilepsy] 2000:68:251-52

A hazard of playing or watching golf is being hit by the occasional stray ball while on the course. But a brief report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Pyschiatry shows that golf balls travelling at speed can inflict more than just severe bruising.

The report cites the cases of four young people who were struck by golf balls, which can travel at speeds of up to 130 miles an hour. An eleven year old boy, hit on the right temple, did not lose consciousness until three hours after the incident when he suffered two seizures; a scan showed that he had developed a blood clot on the brain. A 16 year old boy, who was hit on the head by a ball that was travelling so fast it rebounded a considerable distance, sustained only a bit of painful bruising and swelling at the time. It was not until some four to five hours later that he started fitting. The blood clot on his scan even resembled the shape of the offending golf ball, say the authors. The other cases involved a five year old girl and a 12 year old boy, who continued to have seizures up to four years after the incident.

Golf balls "are able to transmit considerable mechanical energy at a small site of impact," say the authors. "The problem is one of which spectators on golf courses (and their doctors) should be aware."
Contact: Mr Paul Eldrige, The Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool.

BMJ Specialty Journals

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