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Brain Stroke due to Head Massage in a Salon in Bangalore triggers debate

Brain Stroke due to Head Massage in a Salon at Bangalore triggers debate amongst academicians and experts!

A death of a medical student at salon during hair transplant in Chennai, Nicking the ear during a simple hair cut at a reputed salon and now the horrible story of brain stroke due to head and neck massage at a salon.

Babu Reddy had never imagined that a simple head and neck massage at the salon can result into a brain stroke medically termed as acute vertebro-basilar stroke and tear in a major artery supplying blood to the hind brain. He is the lucky one to survive but it raises questions about the skills, training and practice followed by the service providers and massagers working in the salons.  Asking for a head & neck massage after routine service of hair cut is a common practice in the salons in India, no matter whether the service provider is trained and qualified to apply head & neck massage. In India almost every hair salon pleases its customers with head & neck massage at the end of hair cut irrespective of their competencies to do so.  

Unlike other countries, we don’t have licensed massage therapist here practicing in salons and it is common sight that massages in salons are performed by inexperienced and incompetent hands. As per the experts, although the arteries of neck are not that fragile but a poorly trained therapist might not judge the accuracy of force to be applied at certain points around the neck and it can result into a disaster. In fact a simple right-left rotation of head with excessive force by inexperienced hand during the massage can cause fatal injuries.

The recent fatal accidents of brain stroke, death on the chair of salons has triggered a debate over the competencies and skills posed by the services providers in the salon. The incidents are evident enough that salons are ignorant of quality, training, skills and required competencies to perform particular services. “Adequate training and qualification is pre-requisite for performing any procedure on the body. Whether it is a simple facial or head massage, the service provider should have in depth understanding of the science of body and skin functions in that area. If the person does not understand the functionalities of body parts and skin science, there is likelihood of mistreatment. In terms of qualification and training, there is a huge gap between the professionals working in the corner salons and branded salons. The branded and reputed salons follow strict guidelines for hiring the professionals and a proper license, training and qualification with international standard is must for working in these salons. The industry lacks in the standards of working professionals and India is way behind to match the standards and qualification practiced by salons internationally. We need to raise not only the quality of training but also the quantity of production of trained professionals to meet the rising demand in the Industry. If the demand-supply gap for trained professionals remain, these kinds of incidents are bound to occur due to unavailability of skilled force” said Vaishali Shah, Director, LTA School of Beauty. LTA School of Beauty is India’s largest school providing international certification and qualification for the professionals pursuing career in beauty industry.

The story of Babu Reddy who experienced brain stroke due to head massage is quite scary for the people who frequently undergo for massage at salons. It seems that seating on a salon chair under the hands of untrained professional who does not understand the connections and controls of arteries around the neck, head and brain. It is certainly a suicidal attempt.  One of the vascular structures in the anterior neck carotid sinus, containing carotid arteries, is the location of very important sensory cells called baroreceptors. The baroreceptors play important role in the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate. Improper pressure on the carotid sinus by a massage therapist could disturb baroreceptors which can adversely affect the blood pressure and heart rate. The main muscles closest to vascular structure in the anterior neck are longus colli and longus capitis. These are very prone to risk and if handled or massaged inappropriately it could cause serious injury such as stroke, drop in blood pressure due to the proximity of the vascular structure.  Explaining about the possible threats of inappropriate massage, the noted Neurosurgeon Dr. Jatinder Kumar said, “There are several reported hyperextension injuries where rotation of head leads to compression of vertebral arteries resulting into reduction in blood flow to the brain, vertigo, dizziness and disorientation. In addition to this, the massage can misbalance the function of carotid sinus. The carotid sinus works as a support system of the repository for arterial plaque buildup. The plaque collected on the inner walls of arteries is a well known threat. Inappropriate pressure around the carotid sinus can extricate this plaque which can migrate through the arteries and cause stroke”.

People visiting the salons go with the wisdom and skill of service providers and they hardly enquire about qualification and training of the worker to perform that procedure. Since these services are also offered as freebies at mostly salons, so customers hardly delve into the competencies of the worker. “In this industry, the relationship between the customer and salon is totally based on trust. Whether it is use of a product or additional service, customers strongly believe in the recommendations and choices made by salon. In our salon’s survey by BeauPal.com, it was found that 89% of salons were the primary decision maker for selecting the product and services for its customers. This shows that customers believe in the expertise and competencies of the salon’s professionals. As per the survey, over 90% of customers visiting the salon do not enquire about the qualification, certificate and training of the service provider at the salon. Customers just believe that salons’ workers are well-trained and they bow their head putting themselves at risk under the hand of inexperienced worker” commented Hariom Tyagi, Director, BeauPal.com.

The case of Babu Reddy in Bangalore and the case of medical student in Chennai indicates the need of strong regulation, monitoring and standardization of training & qualification in this industry. We should emphasize upon the training and skill development of people working in the salons. We should learn from the developed countries where professionals in the salons are provided working license only after they showcase required skills and qualification as per the standard set by the respective body. However the situation in India is totally contrasted, analogically it is just like a pharmacist working as a doctor in the hospital.

The customers visiting salons should be careful to choose the services and service providers, enquire whether he is competent and qualified enough to provide that service. See who packs your parachute.

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