headbangers beware
July 5, 2014

Bang Away, Doctors Tell Headbangers, But Beware Of Bleeding On The Brain

Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

It's official: English heavy metal rock band Motorhead has been declared one of the most hardcore rock and roll acts on Earth according to neurosurgical researcher Dr. Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian of Germany's Hannover Medical School.

The connection between Dr. Islamian's expertise in hard rock and neurosurgical research might not at first be evident. But it was a fateful visit by a 50-year-old patient in January 2013 that began to tie the two worlds together.

The study centers on an unidentified German man who finally relented and visited the Medical Center at Hannover after a persistent, two week long headache that affected his entire head. A CT scan revealed a subdural hematoma, also known as 'bleeding on the brain.'

After completing a full history of the patient, who had no previous head injuries or substance abuse issues, the doctors finally determined the cause was directly related to his penchant for wildly and violently thrusting his head back and forth to music with a hard and driving beat. This act is more popularly known as headbanging. And as it turned out, this man had just attended a Motorhead concert with his son where, it was determined, he had engaged in quite a lot of headbanging.

As reported by the Huffington Post, doctors at Hannover had to drill a hole into the patient's skull in order to remove a clot before draining the brain over a period of six days. The patient was later released and has since made a full recovery. In a follow up scan, the doctors noted the presence of a benign cyst in the man's brain that likely increased his vulnerability to the traumatic brain injury. Despite the potential severity of this situation, doctors claim other fellow headbangers can go as wild as they like.

“There are probably other higher risk events going on at rock concerts than headbanging,” Dr. Colin Shieff, neurosurgeon and trustee of the British brain injury advocacy group Headway told the Associated Press. “Most people who go to music festivals and jump up and down while shaking their heads don't end up in the hands of a neurosurgeon.”

Echoing Dr. Shieff's sentiment, Dr. Islamian told the CBC, “We are not smartasses who advise against headbanging.” Continuing he said, “Our purpose was not only to entertain the readership with a quite comical case report on complications of headbanging that confirms the reputation of Motorhead as undoubtedly one of the hardest rock 'n' roll bands on Earth, but to sensitize the medical world for a certain subgroup of fans that may be endangered when indulging themselves in excessive headbanging.”

After having checked available medical literature, the study group claimed they had found only three cases of subdural hematoma attributed to headbanging. This fact underlies the rarity of the complication.

Dr. Islamian believes that even though subdural hematomae are relatively rare the incidence rate among headbangers may be higher, though they likely go unreported. This is because the symptoms are clinically silent or cause only mild, temporary headaches.

The study authors highlight the potential dangers surrounding headbanging in a Case Report published in The Lancet.


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