News You Can’t Use – Killer Coconuts and Falling Squirrels

This squirrel could've saved a life!

This is the first in what we hope are many installments of BuckMD’s latest online offering – News You Can’t Use!  We will scour the medical literature to bring you the latest (or completely out of date) medical news that has very little relevance to your life but is interesting, funny, weird and hopefully all of the above.  Today’s topic – killer cocunuts!

In 1984, scientists discovered that falling coconuts in the Pacific Islands accounted for 2.5% of admissions to the hospital in Papua, New Guinea. Said coconuts can weigh up to 10 pounds unhusked and can fall from a perch of up to 115 feet. Four cases of head injury secondary to deadly falling coconuts were described in an article in the Journal of Trauma (1984 Nov;24(11):990-1) including two instant fatalities. Recall from your physics class that momentum is conserved. These researchers have confirmed one of life’s inexorable truths – it is very bad for the momentum of a flying nut to be conserved in your head. 

Thankfully, closer to home here at The Ohio State University falling coconuts aren’t much of a threat.  Falling squirrels, however, are a fairly common event.  We at Student Health Services have managed more than our share of “Rodentia Gravitas” cases, and thankfully they rarely involve anything more serious than a few scratches on the arms and face.  While the injured students often report that they “did not see the squirrel coming,” they quickly get into the habit of searching the skies for signs of falling rodents.

Victoria Rentel, MD (Ohio State Student Health Services)

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