Injury pattern of the Flash-Ball, a less-lethal weapon used for law enforcement: report of two cases and review of the literature

J Emerg Med. 2006 Oct;31(3):325-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2005.09.022.


Less-lethal weapons are used in law enforcement to neutralize combative individuals and to disperse riot crowds. Local police recently used such an impact weapon, the Flash-Ball, in two different situations. This gun fires large rubber bullets with kinetic energies around 200 J. Although it is designed to avoid skin penetration, impacts at such energies may still create major trauma with associated severe injuries to internal organs. This is a report of 2 patients shot with the Flash-Ball who required medical attention. One could be discharged quickly, but the other required hospitalization for heart and lung contusion. Both patients required advanced investigations including computed tomography (CT) scan. The medical literature on injuries induced by less-lethal impact weapons is reviewed. Impacts from the Flash-Ball can cause significant injury to internal organs, even without penetration. Investigations as for other high-energy blunt traumas are called for in these cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contusions / etiology*
  • Firearms*
  • Forensic Ballistics
  • Heart Injuries
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement / methods
  • Lung Injury
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Switzerland
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Gunshot / therapy
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / etiology*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy