March 17, 2009

Study: Stun guns can spark seizures

Electronic stun gun shots to or near the head can trigger seizures, Canadian researchers said in a peer-reviewed medical journal published Tuesday.

Dr. Richard Wennberg of the Krembil Neuroscience Center at Toronto Western Hospital led the study that focused on an unidentified police officer who was accidentally hit with a shot fired by a colleague while chasing a suspect in an undisclosed part of Canada, The Globe and Mail reported.

Wennberg's article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said the officer, who was in his 30s, fell to the ground and began foaming at the mouth with his eyes rolling back in his head. The medical article said his movements and behavior were consistent with a generalized seizure.

After a year, the officer still reported headaches, dizziness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and anxiety, the article said.

Our report shows that a Taser shot to the head may result in brain-specific complications, Wennberg's article said.

Peter Holran, vice president for public relations and government affairs at Taser International, told the Globe that police are trained to aim for areas of the body with large muscle masses and avoid the head and groin. He said his company would review the research but noted it involved only one case.