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Can a haircut cause brain damage?

Dag Stenberg dag.stenberg at nospam.helsinki.fi.invalid
Thu Oct 23 02:16:42 EST 2003

In bionet.neuroscience neepy <dsutherland7 at hotmail.com> wrote:
> "Dag Stenberg" <dag.stenberg at nospam.helsinki.fi.invalid> wrote in message news:<bn5f3c$cpe$1 at oravannahka.helsinki.fi>...
>> In bionet.neuroscience NMF <neil.fournier at sympatico.ca> wrote:
>> > Some epileptics will have seizures triggered during the actual manipulation
>> > and "cutting" of the hair.  That has been reported a few times in the
>> > literature.
>> Could you give one literature reference? Just one to start with. One
>> only. If possible.
> Sorry to barge in... never heard of a search engine Dag?  Took me 10
> seconds to find this:
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1220931.stm

Well, I was looking for serious evidence, so I was looking in Medline -
and nothing came up. The problem with the BBC article of 21 March, 2001
is that is does mention "Research in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery
and Psychiatry" but not the issue or authors.

Knowing this, however, it was possible to find the reference in the
April issue of JNNP 2001; 70: 541 - 543. The authors are  K Kanemoto, Y
Watanabe, T Tsuji, M Fukami, and J Kawasaki, from the Kansai Regional
Epilepsy Center, Utano National Hospital, Kyoto, Japan, and the National
Epilepsy Center, Shizuoka Higashi Hospital, Shizuoka, Japan, c Shinjo
Hospital, Wakayama, Japan. The paper is titled "Rub epilepsy:
a somatosensory evoked reflex epilepsy induced by prolonged cutaneous
  The authors mention that "As long ago as 1863, John Hughlings
Jackson described a case in which touching the thumb would bring on a
fit. Later, in 1910, Woodcock and Edin described a boy who went into
epileptic fits repeatedly when his sister removed the stocking from his
right leg." However, previously somatosensory-evoked epilepsy with a
surprise element was not discriminated from such with no surprise, which
these authors rename "rub epilepsy".
  Four own cases of rub epilepsy are described: one 35-y-old woman with
seizures triggered by rubbing the left shoulder, a 21-y-old woman with a
tickling sensation diagnozed on the basis of the EEG as epileptiform,
and induced by rubbing the left leg, and a 44-y-old man, suffering
from paroxysmal sensations of scratchiness in the chest and motor seizures
since 18-y. This last patient "at the age of 31, the patient noted,
incidentally  while receiving a haircut, that the throbbing sensation in the
left vertex could be provoked by the rubbing of a well circumscribed area in
the head...Seizures occurred every day, but the patient noticed that
after a self induced seizure, the trigger zone was no longer effective
in producing further seizures for several hours, which permitted him to
continue his activities and to tolerate hair cutting." After 34 years age,
"the seizures occurred spontaneously, without any provoking stimuli, every 10 to 15
minutes... "

Compare this to the BBC news:
> In one, a 31-year-old man found that having a haircut seemed to lead
> to a seizure.
> He later realised that if a particular part of his head was rubbed for
> 10 seconds or more, this caused the problem.
> He tended to have seizures every day - but by inducing one prior to
> having his hair cut, he could go to the barbers without fear of it
> happening again.

The fourth patient was a 45-y-old woman whose "Daytime attacks
were provoked by brushing teeth or eating solid foods, and could be
induced by brushing the upper or lower teeth on either side of her

The point of the article is that touch can induce attacks is some
epileptics even without the startle effect. 

The article, as found at
was quite interesting. Tactile-ecoked epilepsy has repeatedly been described in
the literature.The cutting of the hair was, of course, not the main

Dag Stenberg

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