TIME Research

Heavy Metal Headbanging Causes Brain Damage, Science Says

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Man thrashes head while playing guitar. Jim Arbogast—Getty Images

Mötorhead fan teaches science something you already knew

A 50-year-old man who went to the doctor with a persistent and worsening two-week old headache gave himself brain damage by headbanging at a heavy metal concert, according to new research.

In January 2013, the man stumped doctors at the Hannover Medical School after he presented an unremarkable medical record and denied substance abuse. “He had no history of head trauma, but reported headbanging at a Motörhead concert 4 weeks previously,” says the study, which appears in the latest issue of The Lancet.

The study authors describe headbanging as “a contemporary dance form consisting of abrupt flexion—extension movements of the head to the rhythm of rock music, most commonly seen in the heavy metal genre.

“Headbanging was introduced in the early 1970s,” the authors add. “The number of avid aficionados is unknown.”

A cranial CT scan found the patient had given himself a chronic subdural haematoma—a blood clot—on the right side of his brain. Surgeons removed the clot and the man was released with his headache resolved.

“While such shows are enjoyable and stimulating for the audience, some fans might be endangered by indulging in excessive headbanging,” the study says.

So, for those who are about to rock, headbang with care.

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