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11 Things You Didn't Know About Surviving A Headshot

Updated September 23, 2021 838k views11 items

In the United States, one of the major causes of traumatic brain injuries is gunshot wounds to the head. So, now, more than ever, people are asking themselves: “Can I survive getting shot in the head?”  

Yes, you can, but the statistics don't paint a rosy picture. Headshots are fatal 90% of the time, with many victims checking out before they even reach a hospital. For the ones who do make the trip, 50% of them don't get past the emergency room. 

What separates the fortunate few from the unlucky? If you guessed dumb luck, then you're on the right track. However, what constitutes dumb luck in this situation isn't as straightforward. For starters, you have to look at the type of bullet, its trajectory, and whether or not the doctors are willing to cut you a break.

Sure, a lot of this is out of your control -  okay, pretty much all of it is. But if you ever become Master of the Universe, you're going to have to know what makes the perfect storm. So, read on! Your headshot survival depends on it.

  • Brain Tissue Stretches And Overshoots Their Original Position

    A bullet travels faster than the rate at which your brain tissue rips. This means when a bullet tears through your brain, it is actually pushing tissues out of the way, stretching them wildly. The speed at which a bullet tears through your brain means the bullet will exit your skull before your tissues even have a chance to rip.

    This sounds like a good thing, right? Not always. When your brain tissue snaps back, it is over-stretched. There is now a long cavity created by the bullet, and your brain tissue snaps back to its original position but then overshoots their normal location due to said cavity. 

  • For Bullets, Shape And Size Does Matter

    You don't need the Internet to tell you that bulky, exploding shells don't spell success for headshot survival. But that doesn't mean that just any skinny-minny bullet will do. No, what you need is something that's narrow, maintains its shape, and moves at a high velocity.

    While speed can definitely kill, a high-velocity bullet (faster than 2,000 feet per second) is less likely to wobble around and cause secondary damage. Think of it like throwing a football with a tight spiral.

  • You Have To Pass A Test Before Surgery

    Before doctors can dive into surgery, they have to test the brain stem's functionality and measure the patient's level of consciousness. The Glasgow Coma Scale spans from 1-15; anyone who scores below a seven or an eight is thought to be in a coma. As for brain stem activity, it's a bad sign if your eyes can't stay fixed on a central point as your head turns.

    Despite making it to the hospital alive, bombing both of these tests could rule you as a poor candidate for surgery.

  • Your SPIN Score Can Determine Whether Or Not You Survive A Headshot

    A 2016 study on surviving brain injuries developed a state-of-the-art tool which helps predict whether or not a person will survive after any penetrative brain injury, including headshots. This tool is called the SPIN score, which stands for Surviving Penetrating Injury to the Brain. It can predict if people can survive a headshot with 96% accuracy

    The SPIN score was developed by looking at ten years of data from two level-one trauma centers of patients who suffered from penetrating brain injuries, most of which were caused by gunshots. The score ranges from four to 52; a higher score indicates a higher chance of survival. No patients with a SPIN score of 16 or less survived. More research needs to be done concerning the SPIN score, but it looks like a promising way to determine headshot survival rates.