View Full Version : Forearm GSW: Shock, Recovery, Treatment

11-08-2016, 05:21 AM
Hey, all!

Got another gunshot wound question for you doctors, medics, and experts. The character is a roughly 150lb female, in decent shape. Not an Olympic marathon runner, but... solid. Shot in the forearm by 5.56 at 200 or so yards. The way I'm imagining it is that the bullet passes between the ulna and radius. The question: would that high speed bullet still produce a shockwave to shatter/powderize bone?

Second question: could a wound like that incite shock in the span of roughly 10 minutes or so?

Final question: from what I've read, the recovery and PT after something like that would be intense, since a lot of the muscle in the forearm would be ripped out. What's an accurate time scale as far as getting back to 100%?

Thanks for your help!

11-08-2016, 07:32 AM
What result do you need? That's a narrow spot to pass through, but a normal condition shot in 5.56 at that distance would pass through with minimal damage to tissue it did not hit. It would likely damage or sever tendons and potentially an artery, but normal conditions would no result in any shock and the wound is easily survivable. Recovery varies on the person and the specific damage. 2-4 weeks would be very quick, never recovering to 100% is possible.

So, don't start with the wound. Start with the result you need and develop the wound and other circumstances to fit.


11-08-2016, 07:45 AM
Gotcha- the wound definitely needs to be survivable, and (relatively) easily treatable with modern medicine. I'd prefer not to have any major permanent damage (i.e. walking with a cane for the rest of her life). However, I want there to be some sort of recovery time that will put her out of action for about two months.

This is also in a wartime scenario, so... ricochets, shrapnel, etc. are all viable options. I was thinking that the scenario I had above would result in a about a two month recovery time if it hits muscle/tendon, and be reasonably treatable even if it did get at an artery. She will get to surgery within the "golden hour" too, btw.

11-08-2016, 08:16 AM
So the thing about shock is...it's both physiological and psychological. So... on shock, what do you NEED to have happen?

I'm with @WeaselFire - at that distance, there's not likely to be a lot of bone injury if the bullet hits only soft tissue.

I CAN tell you that severed tendons will put someone out of action easily a couple of months, if not more - as there will be surgeries and therapy, and possibly not experiencing full recovery. I can also tell that a severely shattered bone will take a lot more than two months to heal. (sadly, I know the bone one from personal experience - I turned a section of my radius into what my orthopedic surgeon called "pulverized oatmeal").

You might go for a bicep shot rather than lower arm - easier to say the bullet hit nothing but soft tissue and caused a lot of pain, discomfort, surgery to stop bleeding, repair damage, etc, but the recovery is reasonably short.

And yeah, start with the result you need, and work backward from there.

11-08-2016, 04:23 PM
5.56 is still a high velocity round. There will be shock wave damage. The ulna will possibly break, the Radius possibly might not. About the only place along the radius and ulna that something could pass between them is in the distal third of the forearm. Ultimately anything is possible. I've seen bullets do amazing and mind boggling things. The average patient, goodbye median nerve, possibly the lower half of the arm, maybe eventually heal with a claw hand. If you want them to eventually heal fully, just have the doctors comment how lucky they are.

11-08-2016, 06:25 PM
Got it. I think I know just about where I stand. Thanks everyone!

11-10-2016, 04:43 PM
For your scenario, a shot to the lower left abdomen works. Painful, damage to intestines, potential septic shock, recovery time could be about two months to duty level. Easily handled with current battlefield medicine and, in current battle gear, a shot just below or just at the edge of a body armor plate will do this. From 200 yards, the bullet will likely pass through the abdomen with a minor exit wound.