Heavy metal fans beware. Heavy Metal headbanging could cause brain damage, according to a report in the British journal The Lancet that mentioned a unique incident about a Motorhead fan from Germany who experienced bleeding from the brain after attending the concert. The patient was 50 years old and had no previous history of head injuries or drug abuse and was complaining of severe headaches. He did, however, recently attend a Motorhead concert and confessed to rapid headbanging which caused a subdural hematoma or blood clot on the right side of his brain.
Hannover Medical School doctors from the department of neurosurgery discovered the blood clot after a CT scan and realized that the patient needed to have the hematoma removed. The patient had to have a hole drilled into his brain to drain the blood, and soon after his headaches disappeared. In a follow-up visit, doctors discovered that the patient had a benign cyst which could have contributed to his brain injury.
Heavy metal headbanging is extremely popular at rock, metal and punk concerts and although it is extremely rare, it could cause brain damage if the head is shaken too violently. The trendy music-induced practice became the rage in the 70s and involves violently jerking the head up and down to the beat of a fast-paced rock song.
The doctors reported that some concertgoers may be at risk for brain trauma from excessive headbanging, but encouraged heavy metal fans not to give up hope. Dr. Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian stated that they are not against headbanging because the threat of injury to the brain is extremely low. However, Islamian continued by saying that shaking the head too aggressively while headbanging can sometimes cause harm as the brain bumps against the skull.
Islamian recommends that those who enjoy headbanging do so with less fervor to avoid the possibility of damaging the brain. He mentioned, “We are not against headbanging. But if our patient had attended a classical concert this would not have happened.”
Islamian continued by saying that this particular case proves that Motorhead is one of the most hardcore rock and roll bands around because of the music’s addictive speed drive and the potentially hazardous risk for fans to suffer a brain injury.
There have also been many incidences of other injuries reported by professional musicians that were caused by headbanging. For example, Megadeth guitarist Dave Mustaine had surgery for stenosis, which is a painful condition in his neck that he stated was caused by many years of headbanging. Evanescence guitarist Terry Balsamo suffered a stroke from the practice in 2005, and Slayer vocalist and bassist Tom Araya underwent a fusion and cervical discectomy in 2009 which was the result of fierce headbanging.
Ian Christe, longtime metal expert and author of the book Sound of the Beast, The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, mentioned that he was glad that the doctors from Hannover Medical School noted that obtaining brain trauma from headbanging was uncommon. Heavy metal headbanging could cause brain damage, but the reported cases have been few and far between. Christe stated, “Living in a world without headbanging would make no sense.”
By Amy Nelson