The doctor yelling "All clear!" as he tries to revive a patient who has flatlined by shocking him with a defibrillator. An expectant father rushing around in a panic after his wife's water breaks. Someone getting knocked out cold in a fight. These are all moments that have appeared in countless films and television shows. And it shouldn't come as a big surprise that such scenes are often milked for dramatic or comedic effect.
Which is great. Who doesn't love a big dramatic or funny moment, right? However, these scenes often convey misinformation about a person's body or how to deal with a medical situation. And since research has found that people's beliefs can be heavily influenced by what they see in films and on television, this can leave viewers believing some very dumb - and sometimes dangerous - things when it comes to their bodies.
Below are some examples of the most common misconceptions portrayed in movies and TV shows. Vote up the body cliches you've seen far too often on screen.
People In Comas Just Lie There Peacefully, And When They Wake Up, They Are Immediately Alert And Totally HealedPhoto: Kill Bill: Vol .1 / Miramax Films
The Trope: The patient never moves while in a coma, and when they come out of it, they're immediately alert, with little to no mental or physical damage.
The Reality: Coma patients sometimes have the ability to move and even respond to their external environment. They may be able to open their eyes, smile, and even attempt to speak. Once someone comes out of a coma, they generally will have physical and/or mental issues that can require months, if not years, of therapy. These issues include getting infections from feeding tubes or catheters, deformed muscles, and damage to the central nervous system.
Notable Offenders: 28 Days Later, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Face/Off, or pretty much any TV soap operaCommon cliche?
Drowning People Yell And Thrash AroundPhoto: Baywatch / NBC
The Trope: When someone thinks they're drowning, they will yell for help and thrash around in a panic.
The Reality: While people may start to call for help, once they actually start to drown, it is a mostly silent process: In the need for air, the person's focus will be on trying to keep their nose and mouth above water. Their arms, meanwhile, will likely be stretched out in an attempt to keep afloat, rather than thrashing wildly about or waving for help. The person's body will be straight up and down, with no kicking motion. This silent, unnaturally calm behavior is called the instinctive drowning response. A person can only maintain this position for 20 to 60 seconds before sinking under the water; once that happens, the chances of survival are very slim.
Notable Offenders: Fatal Attraction, Casino Royale, Baywatch, or pretty much any other TV show featuring lifeguardsCommon cliche?
Severed Body Parts Should Be Placed On IcePhoto: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / Warner Bros.
The Trope: If you put a severed body part on ice, that will preserve it and make reattaching it easier.
The Reality: Direct contact with ice can actually result in the blood vessels in the body part developing freezer burn, which would make reattachment more difficult. Instead, the first thing to do when a limb becomes detached is to try and control the bleeding by placing direct pressure on the wound and elevating it higher than the heart. Then, rinse off the severed part - but do not scrub it (as scrubbing could cause more damage) - to try and lessen the amount of bacteria. Finally, wrap the severed body part in a clean piece of cloth or gauze that has been dampened by cold water, put the wrapped appendage in a plastic bag, and then put the bag in some cold water.
Notable Offenders: The Simpsons, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Hangover Part IICommon cliche?
Amnesia Makes You Forget EverythingPhoto: The Muppets Take Manhattan / Tri-Star Pictures
The Trope: Amnesia results in the complete loss of identity. If the onset of amnesia is caused by a blow to the head, another blow to the head will restore the person's memories and identity.
The Reality: It is very rare for someone suffering from amnesia to lose their entire past, including their identity. More common is retrograde amnesia, in which the person suffers a partial loss of their past memories. And even more common is anterograde amnesia, in which the victim retains their memories of things that happened prior to the event that caused the brain injury, but have difficulty forming new memories of things that occur after the event. In addition, many amnesia victims can learn new skills that don't require the ability to recall what they did in the past.
And no, a second blow to the head does not restore someone's memory; in fact, a second blow to the head could leave the brain more vulnerable, increasing the odds of this second injury resulting in death.
Notable Offenders: I Love You Again, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Bourne Identity, 50 First Dates, Regarding Henry, several Laurel and Hardy filmsCommon cliche?