Neurosurgeons analyze incidents of brain trauma in Asterix comics

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Here's the cheekiest medical study we've seen recently. Neurosurgeons at Düsseldorf's Heinrich-Heine-University have catalogued occurrences of brain trauma in Asterix comics. Y'know, those comics about rambunctious Gauls who're always pounding the hell outta Roman legionnaires (and each other).

Witness this absolutely pressing study's wondrous abstract:

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).


Growing up in a household of Francophonic parentage, I was familiar with Asterix comics at a young age*, so it pleases me immensely that the medical community is taking these many incidents of bande dessinée head trauma seriously. I would love to see similar studies analyzing those characters injured in menhir-related accidents and or the pharmacological effects of druidic magic tincture.


*I will admit that the comic strip did absolutely nothing for my sense of historical context. The comic taught me the Gauls inadvertently defaced the Sphinx (during their encounter with Cleopatra, no less) and gave me a skewed view of Roman bureaucracy. I was also chagrined that my folks never took me to Parc Astérix, even though it was an ocean in the opposite direction and all those costumed Gauls would've terrified my moppet self anyway.

[Via Mind Hacks]