Of the five ways in which lightning can strike individuals, a direct strike is the least common. In a direct strike, the lightning current moves directly through the body. This type of strike is the most deadly because part of the current moves over the skin, while other portions typically move through the cardiovascular system and nervous system. The heat generated by the lightning causes burns on the skin and the current can damage vital organs such as the heart and brain.
Cardiac arrest can occur as a lightning strike can cause the heart to stop. It may also cause arrhythmias and pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs).
• Lightning strikes may cause a number of neurological conditions and brain damage. A person may slip into a coma, experience pain and numbness or weakness in limbs, suffer from spinal cord injuries, or develop sleep and memory disorders.
• A lightning strike may cause damage to the ear and hearing loss. It may also cause vertigo, corneal damage, and blindness.