Woman Sues Salon for Causing a “Beauty Parlor Stroke”

Spending long hours at the hair salon is a beauty ritual that has obvious rewards, but one of the least appealing parts of it is the time spent reclined in the shampoo bowl. For a woman in California, getting a shampoo was much more than just uncomfortable. Elizabeth Smith alleges that having her hair shampooed at a salon in December of 2013 led to a massive stroke just two weeks later.

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Smith, a 48-year-old mother of two, is suing the Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar in San Diego where she claims a routine shampoo caused hyperextension of her neck, which led her vertebrate to cut her vertebral artery. Smith alleges that the chair and the shampoo bowl at the salon were defective, causing her to have what neurologists call a “beauty parlor stroke.”

According to a doctor’s report sent to ABC News by Smith’s attorneys, a break in her artery wall lead to a clot to form, which traveled to her brain and caused a stroke. The stroke left her with lasting damage, including an “unsteady gait and loss of motor skills in her left hand” as well as impairment in her left eye. Attorneys for the salon have denied any negligence and have alleged that she failed to “care for her own safety and caused her own injuries.”

While the term “beauty parlor stroke” may seem like a new phrase, it’s a syndrome that’s been around for more than twenty years. A 1993 report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association detailed five separate cases of strokes caused by the hyperextension of the neck while tipped backwards over the edge of a sink. The New York Times reported that although the incidents are rare, with only a handful of cases being reported each year, neurologists have linked the strokes directly to the syndrome.

Symptoms of a “beauty parlor stroke” include pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, numbing and tingling or facial asymmetry. It’s not necessary to forgo your usual trip to the salon to avoid the neck strain, prevention is as simple as ensuring you have the proper neck support and limiting your time reclined in the sink.

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