In January 2014, Elizabeth Smith, a mother of two, had a stroke caused by a visit to the hair salon.
A CT scan revealed that an artery in her neck had been damaged by this shampoo chair and sink at Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar in San Diego, according to court documents.
She filed suit against the salon in December 2015.
In the medical world, they actually have a term for this: beauty parlor stroke.
While someone’s hair is getting shampooed, the arteries in their neck can get cut or torn due to hyperextension or any whiplash-type motions that happen during a salon visit.
“When one of those cervical arteries is damaged in some sort of way, you can get what’s called a dissection, which is damage of the inside of the blood vessel, leading to abnormal flow and clotting, and then those clots can shoot north into the brain and cause a stroke,” said Steven R. Zeiler, M.D., Ph.D., head of stroke research at Johns Hopkins.
The exact cause of beauty parlor strokes is still not entirely known because it is so rare.
To prevent future beauty parlor strokes, look for a chair where the neck is adjustable and there’s adequate neck support, and if you’re ever concerned you’ve had a stroke, go straight to an emergency room.
“Common symptoms are loss of a use of a limb; all of a sudden you get weak on one side of the body; your face begins to droop; you begin to speak like you’re drunk; you might lose vision; the world is spinning around you horizontally or vertically; double vision,” said Zeiler.