Monday, November 14, 2011

Headbanging Risks

Forget cigarettes, fried food and holding your breath too long – there's another indulgence that some doctors wish to quash. Rockers should cease their headbanging, Australian scientists have advised, or wear a less-than-rocking neck brace.

"We identified a definite risk of mild traumatic brain injury from headbanging," Dr Andrew McIntosh, of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), told the Australian newspaper. "We would suggest a proper public health warning, as for smoking." The results of his research were published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal.

Head banging involves violent up-and-down, circular swinging, or side-to-side movements of the head and neck while dancing or listening to music, and the risk of injury increases as the music's tempo does, professor Andrew McIntosh and his research assistant Declan Patton report in the an online version of BMJ.

You can reduce your chance of injury by using protective equipment like neck braces, or simply moving your head to slower tempos, the researchers say.

So could someone render themselves unconscious while head banging? Unlikely, say the authors, unless they are banging their head on the stage or connect with someone else's head.

And what of two of the most famous head bangers, Beavis and Butt-head? When head banging at a tempo of 164 beats per minute to "I Wanna be Sedated" the range of motion of Beavis' head and neck is about 45º, say the authors, so he would be unlikely to sustain any injury. But the news for Butt-head may not be so rosy. Preferring to head bang at a range of motion of 75º, he may well experience symptoms of headaches and dizziness.

Luckily, there are a number of possible ways to protect against these injuries, write the authors. These include calling for bands such as AC/DC to play songs such as "Moon River" instead of "Highway to Hell", public awareness campaigns headed by musicians such as Cliff Richard and the labelling of music packaging with anti-head banging warnings.

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