Medicine: The Tumbler

Between fits of vomiting, 43-year-old Mrs. Grace E. Walker gasped out her story at Denver's Colorado General Hospital. She had been walking near a granite quarry where blasting was going on. Suddenly a stone came hurtling through the air and struck her on the head. Examining physicians discovered that besides paroxysms of vomiting, the patient had a fixed dilation of her left pupil. Furthermore, blood seemed to be seeping from her left ear, and she complained of double vision. Confronted with such classic symptoms, the doctors made a speedy diagnosis: head injury.

On the basis of the diagnosis, an insurance company paid...