Woman Says Getting Shampoo at Stylist Led to 'Beauty Parlor Stroke'

A California woman said she had a stroke week's after haircut.

ByABC News
February 27, 2016, 5:03 PM

— -- A California woman is suing a hair salon, alleging that getting a shampoo led to her stroke two weeks later.

Elizabeth Smith filed a lawsuit, saying that she was getting her hair shampooed at the Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar in December 2013, when her neck was "hyper-extended" and lead to a stroke that has had lasting consequences.

Smith alleged that the hyper-extension lead to her vertebrate to "cut her vertebral artery," according to court papers filed by Smith's attorneys in December.

Through her lawyers, Smith alleged the chair and shampoo bowl were "defective" and lead to the hyper-extension.

Smith,48, told ABC News affiliate KGTV she wanted to raise awareness, especially since she still has a clot in her brain that could cause more damage.

"So I do live with that every night. I go to sleep wondering, will I wake up tomorrow?" said Smith.

Smith allegedly suffered a stroke on Jan. 5, 2014, nearly two weeks after getting her hair done.

According to a doctor's report sent to ABC News by Smith's attorneys, the stroke left her with lasting injuries. To be specific, doctors found signs in January that she had an artery dissection in her vertebrae, meaning the artery wall had broken slightly. The injury can lead a clot to form as the artery repairs itself, if the clot breaks and travels to the brain it can cause a stroke sometimes called a "beauty parlor stroke" by neurologists.

The report said, she has an "unsteady gait and loss of motor skills in her left hand" in addition to impairment in her left eye.

Requests for further comment from Smith through her attorneys were not immediately answered.

Emailed request for comment from the Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar was not immediately answered. In court paperwork filed earlier this month and sent to the Smith's attorneys, the salon denied any negligence and alleged that she "failed to exercise any degree of care for her own safety and as a result proximately caused her own injuries."

Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55, according to the internet stroke center, an independent web resource for information about stroke care and research.

Dr. Warren Selman, Director of the Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, was not involved in the case, but explained that when a person arrives with a stroke, a doctor will ask if they fell, went on a roller coaster or did anything else that could cause them to hyper-extend the neck.

When it comes to the term "beauty parlor stroke," Selman said, this is "definitely something that all neurologists know about."

"Actually calling it a 'beauty parlor stroke' is relatively common in the teaching, it's been reported quite a lot," he said.

"If you tip your head back and get numbness or tingling and your speech slurs," that could be a warning sign of an injury, Selman added.