From the "You can't make this stuff up" desk:
Using "observational study, focus groups and biochemical analysis" as part of his investigation, School of Risk and Safety Sciences professor Andrew McIntosh has come to the conclusion that hard rock fans who indulge in the decades-old practice of headbanging along with their favorite music may well be opening up their craniums to all sorts of dangers ranging from mild headaches all the way up to strokes. McIntosh says that the biggest risk factors involve two key elements: the pace of the song being played, and the range of motion of the noggin responding to said song.
To conduct his study, the professor and a researcher attended concerts by Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Skid Row, and others, where they documented "the different styles of headbanging such as the up-down, the circular swing, the full body, or the side-to-side." (For the record, the most common was up-and-down.) They then built a headbanging model, used a group if local musicians to put together a list of favorite hard rock songs, and began assessing results based on the relationship of tempos and movements. What they discovered was that the average pace of a headbanging appropriate song was 146 beats per minute, and that once the head and neck started bobbing away at an angle greater than 75 degrees, some sort of injury was likely.
The report, which is viewable in full at the Journal's website (www.bmj.com), contains a veritable treasure trove of important scientific information, including estimates of potential damage incurred by "two of the greatest headbangers, Beavis and Butt-head, when headbanging at a tempo of 164 beats per minute to [the Ramones'] "I Wanna Be Sedated," as well as that other "legendary" duo, Wayne and Garth, headbanging to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
While noting that "it is well understood that cartoon [and fictional] characters are able to tolerate greater than normal impacts without injury," McIntosh nonetheless concludes that the dangers are quite real. The best deterrents? He suggests formal education, neck braces, and "replacing heavy metal with adult oriented and easy listening music, including Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, and Enya."
Like I said, you can't make this stuff up.
- University of New South Wales