In the mid-1980's, the Department of Electrical Engi1eering at the University of Queensland, where the research reported in this thesis was o:onducted, found itself being approached regularly by individuals claiming to have received electric shocks delivered to them via their telephone apparatus. It was claimed that the shocks were in consequence of nearby lightning strikes. Advice was constantly asked regarding current knowledge of the injury, its causation, its nature, and its prognosis. Seemingly serious consequences were presented to the Department, and the only possible answer to the enquiries at that time was that little was known about the injury, and that it had been little investigated. The project reported here was commenced with the aim of elucidating the nature of the injury, its presentation, consequences, and treatment.
This work progressed, but as it was examined it was realised that this injury was just one facet of lightning injuries as a wider entity. These too were hidden in a certain mystery, and knowledge in this area needed extension in its own right, and also as a means of understanding telephone mediated lightning injury better.
Thus the research reported in this thesis represents a series of investigations concerning aspects of the phenomenon of lightning injury. While the investigations form several discrete examinations in themselves, they unify under the general topic of extension of knowledge of the nature of the lightning injury as a whole, in order to understand and to be able to treat more effectively each separate facet.
The aim of the research therefore has been to investigate several aspects of the science, epidemiology, and therapy, of lightning injury in order to consolidate what the literature reports, define more rigorously those aspects only superficially treated in the past, and to refine and extend knowledge in the broader area. In doing this, two major areas are examined. It was a first priority to seek to understand the injuries suffered by the 80 persons per year in Australia subject to shocks delivered in this manner. This was then shown to be related to general "in-the-field" lightning injury, and studies are reported to advance from the former case to the latter.