Heavy Metal Headbanger’s Brain Bleeds

heavy metal
A Motorhead fan was recently treated due to a brain bleed caused by headbanging to heavy metal music. Although the brain injury was directly correlated to headbanging, doctors say that fans do not need to give up rocking to their favorite music, as it is very rare that this kind of trauma happens. The doctors at Germany’s Hannover Medical School saw a 50-year-old man who was complaining of constant headaches that were getting increasingly worse as time went on. The patient had no history of substance abuse problems or previous head injuries. However, he did mention that he had been regularly headbanging for years, most recently at a Motorhead concert.

After scanning the patient, the doctors discovered that the man had a brain bleed, medically entitled as chronic subdural hematoma, on the right side of his brain which needed to be drained. Soon after the surgery, the patient’s headaches disappeared. In a follow-up scan however, the doctors found a benign cyst on the man’s brain, which could have made the heavy metal fan more vulnerable to this type of injury. Although banging his head back and forth briskly led to the rupture of bridging veins which in turn caused hemorrhage and was a major factor in the man’s brain bleed, doctors are convinced that the risk of injury from headbanging is still very low.

The violent shaking of the head can sometimes be enough to create damage in the brain as it bumps up against the skull. There have been other previous, similar injuries in a handful of heavy metal fans, but it is still extremely rare. The band Motorhead is known for helping to create the genre “speed metal” which encourages remarkably fast headbanging.

There have been at least three other similar situations of brain hemorrhage due to headbanging, including one case which ended up leading to the patient’s sudden death. Even Tom Araya, frontman for the heavy metal band Slayer announced that he would be giving up on his signature headbanging moves after doctors inserted a steel plate into his spine in order to deal with the physical damage that had occurred after 30 years of headbanging in the same position.

The University of New South Whales offered a recommendation to heavy metal headbangers in an effort to prevent brain bleeds. They warned that thrashing their head in a range greater than 75 degrees to songs with a tempo of around 146 bpms can increase the risk for headaches and possibly strokes. The researchers suggested that fans might be able to avoid the risk by changing their style to headbanging only to every second beat, listening to softer rock, or wearing a neck brace. Those proposals were not very appealing to heavy metal fans, however.

Generally, headbanging to heavy metal causes nothing more than whiplash, but depending on the severity of the thrashing and how often it is executed, brain bleeds and other implications can occur. Regardless of the rhythmic and sometimes violent movement during heavy metal concerts, doctors and researchers have assured fans that they are safe to “rock on.”

By Addi Simmons

Star Tribune
The Daily Beast
The Independent

2 Responses to "Heavy Metal Headbanger’s Brain Bleeds"

  1. BReed   July 22, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Well, thanks for the recommendations from the University of New South Whales. Because if Whales can’t help us headbang responsibly…. no, sorry, I got nothing.

  2. Jim   July 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    The type of head movement involved can also cause a carotid dissection, a condition where the interior wall of an artery separates or collapses blocking blood flow, in some people that might have a predisposition for such injury. When this happens to a carotid artery things can go terribly wrong. If the blockage is severe the headaches that ensue shouldn’t rightly be called headaches, the pain being so severe. Hearing loss, not from the music but from the tear can happen as well as loss of sensation in the face and balance problems. This happened to me in the service and I didn’t recognize it until a number of follow up episodes that became progressively worse until one day after straining my neck the pain got so bad that I wanted to die. When my wife noticed that my pupils were different sizes she took me to the emergency room. A month later they finally diagnosed the carotid dissection, less than 2 percent blood flow through my left carotid. If this was diagnosed earlier (I had gone to sick bay with headaches and I had gone to civilian doctors with complaints of numbness, headaches and mild vertigo to no effect) I could have saved myself a lot of pain and depression by avoiding unnecessarily straining my neck. Sorry for the long post but maybe someone will recognize the symptoms and avoid the same. Rock on.

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