Between a rock and a hard bass

The British Medical Journal has just published one of the greatest and funniest research articles ever to grace the pages of the medical literature with a paper on the potential neurological consequences of headbanging to heavy metal.

As someone who once caused himself concussion and several hours of puking from head banging to Metallica at the age of 14, I feel this is important and invaluable research.

The researchers, Australian rockers Declan Patton and Andrew McIntosh, attended a number of heavy metal concerts to observe the most common forms of headbanging (the ‘up-down style’ apparently), and then did a biomechanical analysis to estimate the forces operating on the head and brain.

They also convened a focus group of local rockers to list their favourite headbanging classics, and modelled the physical stresses based on the tempo of the tracks.

They discovered that headbanging to songs with a tempo above 146 beats per minute when the head motion was more than 75 degrees was the point at which brain injury was likely to occur.

It’s traditional that the Christmas edition of the BMJ has a more light-hearted article. This study is a little different in that the science is completely bona fide, but the scientific paper is a very funny read.

Their public health recommendations are a particular gem:

Though exposure to head banging is enormous, opportunities are present to control this risk‚Äîfor example, encouraging bands such as AC/DC to play songs like “Moon River” as a substitute for “Highway to Hell”; public awareness campaigns with influential and youth focused musicians, such as Sir Cliff Richard; labelling of music packaging with anti-head banging warnings, like the strategies used with cigarettes; training; and personal protective equipment.

Great article, fantastic title, and completely open access.

Rock on!

Link to ‘Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal’.

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