Beauty Parlor Stroke: Could The Way You Sit In The Shampoo Chair Be Dangerous?

March 7, 2016  |  

Corbis

Corbis

If you like to pamper yourself and take a trip to the hair salon on a regular basis, then you’ve probably gone through the first step of reclining back in the shampoo chair while a stylist cleanses your scalp. Well, one California woman is claiming that 10 minutes in the shampoo chair led to her having a stroke just two weeks later.

According to ABC News, Elizabeth Smith, 48, is suing the Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar because she says that when she went to get her hair done in December 2013, her neck was “hyper-extended” while getting a shampoo. According to court papers, she claims that the hyper-extension “cut her vertebral artery.”

She allegedly felt weakness in her arms and legs soon after the appointment, and nearly two weeks after her trip to the salon, she had a massive full-on stroke. She couldn’t stand and could barely speak. After inquiring into activities she did leading up to the damage, her doctors pointed to what medical professionals call “beauty parlor stroke.”

According to Smith, her lawyer, and her doctors, when her neck was bent back, it hyperextended and the vertebrae sliced through her artery. A clot formed (a clot still present in her brain), and the stroke occurred. Her lawyer, Spencer Busby, is blaming the stylist.

“We believe the personnel involved didn’t adequately support her neck or adjust the chair properly to compensate for the small frame of our client.”

But Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar is blaming Smith. In response to her filing, they said she “failed to exercise any degree of care for her own safety and as a result proximately caused her own injuries.”

Whatever happened to Smith, neurologists do say that a “beauty parlor stroke” is occurring more often these days. In a piece in the New York Times based on a study done on the condition in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this form of stroke was defined.

“The position commonly used for shampooing at beauty salons, with the neck tipped far backward over the edge of a sink, can diminish the blood supply to the brain, sometimes precipitating strokes in older people.”

But neurologists, including Dr. Warren Selman, director of the Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, also note that hyperextension of the neck leading to a possible stroke can be caused by other things. That includes a bad fall, riding certain roller coasters, receiving anesthesia and dental work–all things that could lead to extreme neck positions, and in some cases, extreme neck positions held for an extended period of time.

But back to instances in which one’s neck is tipped back while getting hair shampooed. Those behind the survey in The Journal of the American Medical Association did follow five women who had neurological symptoms after their visits to beauty parlors. The women were between the ages of 54 and 84, and blamed their visits on maladies that followed, including “poor blood flow in arteries leading through the neck to the back of the brain, including severe dizziness, imbalance and facial numbness.”

While all this sounds scary, in some cases, it also sounds like it can be preventable. If you are sitting with your neck extended in a way that feels off, you should probably say something, as opposed to staying in a very uncomfortable, and possibly damaging position for long. This is especially necessary to make known if you’re older (FYI, the risk of a stroke doubles after the age of 55) and if “you get numbness or tingling and your speech slurs” when you tip your head back for a time during a visit, which Selman attributes to an injury.

 

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