60-Second Health

Heavy Metal Headbanging Rare Risk Revealed

Headbanging can cause pain or even whiplash. But a 50-year-old Motörhead fan developed a more serious condition, bleeding in the brain that required surgical repair, after headbanging at a concert. Dina Fine Maron reports


Heavy metal music can be hazardous to your health—at least, in what appear to be rare circumstances. A 50-year-old fan who recently rocked out at a Motörhead concert developed bleeding in the brain that required surgical repair. He had celebrated the band’s signature fast tempo music by headbanging—that is, violently pitching his noggin to and fro in time to the music.  
A month after the concert, the man experienced an intense headache. Doctors found on the right side of his brain a chronic subdural hematoma: an injury where blood collects under the brain’s outer protective membrane. Surgeons fixed him up. The case study is in the journal The Lancet. [Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian, Manolis Polemikos and Joachim K. Krauss, Chronic subdural haematoma secondary to headbanging]
Headbanging is usually considered relatively harmless, though it can cause whiplash or shorter-term head or neck pain. A follow-up scan of the Motörhead fan revealed that a benign cyst may have made him more vulnerable to brain injury than your standard heavy metal enthusiast.
The study authors say devotees may maintain their headbanging habit, as such bleeds are so uncommon. Even more uncommon are brain injuries sustained at concerts featuring the music of Mozart, Mahler or even Rachmaninoff.
—Dina Fine Maron
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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