Beauty Parlor stroke

Beauty Parlor stroke. Back in August 2010 one of the women who uses this web site  sent me an email about her experience at the beauty parlor. And when I did some research about what happened to her....well, I just think every woman needs to know about this. Here is her  letter:

Hi, Kate,

I so enjoy your newsletter! I had an experience this summer I would like to share with you, and anyone you care to share it with. I was at a beauty parlor getting my hair done.

When it was time to sit at the shampoo bowl I warned the operator that I had several surgeries on my neck and did not want to lean back until the water was the right temp.

She said, "Oh, I have a little pillow for your neck!" In putting the pillow behind my neck she accidentally bashed my head against the high rim of the bowl. I thought at the time that it was out of proportion painful, but the pillow did feel good.

The following week I was back again. No accident this time, but I noticed the pillow was not helpful on this occasion. In fact, I was downright uncomfortable. I had been feeling bad anyway, eyes acting oddly, blood pressure spiking, seeming a little dizzy. By night, I checked into the local ER feeling absolutely lousy. They did a CT scan and found I had bleeding into the brain. They ambulanced me over to the ICU of a big hospital. More tests confirmed that the blood pattern was consistent with a blow to the head just where I had been hit the week before. There was nothing they could actually do, the blood would reabsorb.

Further CT scans have shown it is getting better. It has been about 6 weeks now and I am starting to feel like my old self most days. One of the male nurses in the hospital smiled and said, "Well, I hope you liked your hair!" I feel sort of silly having all this expense and fuss because of a little vanity!


But when I began to research the topic of Seniors Beauty Parlor strokes I found that having your hair washed in a beauty salon is so often a cause of a stroke that neurologists and other health care providers have a category "Beauty Parlor Stroke".

News reports: Senior Beauty Parlor strokes

  1. As early as April 28, 1993 there was a report in the New YorkTimes:                                                                "The Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Michael Weintraub described five women between the ages of 54 and 84 who developed serious neurological symptoms requiring hospitalization after shampoos at beauty parlors. The patients suffered from a variety of complaints attributable to poor blood flow in arteries leading through the neck to the back of the brain, including severe dizziness, imbalance and facial numbness. Four out of five suffered strokes leading to permanent neurologic damage"  (You can read the full New York Times story at:  Seniors Beauty Parlor strokes
  2. In June of 2002, there was a report from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Researchers found that "More than 80 percent of the 25 subjects used in the study said they suffered neck pain after a simulated shampooing in the researcher's faux salon in the U.M.D.N.J. quarters in Newark.                                And 40 percent experienced dizziness or felt light-headed after the extending their necks into the shampoo sink; both effects are warning signs for a stroke (italics added).... The study showed that tilting the head into the salon sink reduces blood flow to the brain." Reference New York Times June 28. 2002.
  3. In 2006 San Diego Tribune published another story about this phenomenon - only this time it was not a senior citizen. Marilyn Noonan experienced a brain bleed after having her hair shampooed in a beauty parlor. "She spent eight days in the hospital on blood thinners for fear that pieces of the clot would break off and lodge in her brain, causing paralysis or worse. When she was allowed to go home, Noonan was told not to lift, yell, push or pull, or get stressed out for three months – a difficult order, she says, considering she has four lively sons." reference: San Diego Union-Tribune

Safety first in Beauty Parlor

To avoid Seniors Beauty Parlor strokes:

  • Never extend your neck over the rim of the wash basin. You can lean back a bit but ask that the wash be done in a way that will not cause you to extend your neck. Some women sit facing the basin and lean forward. But you need to be sure that the attendant does NOT exert pressure on your head so it is 'pushed down' - again extending your neck.
  • If your beauty parlor will not accommodate your needs, it might be better to wash your hair when you show at before you go to the beauty parlor
  • In any case do consider printing  this report and giving a copy to your beautician. Some professionals do not know that there is a real danger - especially for those over age 50 (whose carotid arteries are not as flexible or clear as those of younger persons).

NOTE: Although beauty parlors have been such a common cause of strokes that neurologists and brain surgeons have named the phenomenon 'Beauty parlor stroke' there are other situations when involve neck movements that can cause such strokes - especially in persons over age 50. You can read more by clicking: Stroke dangers

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