Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome: Mom says salon hair treatment caused life-threatening brain injury, sues for $1 million: Report

“I’ve been isolated from my own body”

A mother of two is suing a hairdresser for over $1 million after she says a hair treatment she received in 2016  let to a massive stroke.

According to a report in the Scottish Daily Record, Adele Burns, 47, of Glasgow, Scotland, alleges that her hair was washed six times at Rainbow Room International salon after failing to get the color right— and the resulting contact of the sink, which she said had no padding, against her neck caused her to collapse the very next day.

Burns was visiting the salon as a gift from her husband. Following the five-hour appointment, she reportedly suffered from a headache, but brushed it aside, believing it was a result of not having eaten that day.

The next day her condition quickly deteriorated, as she began feeling dizzy before reportedly losing her sight while cleaning the bathroom. Burns said she was able to crawl to a phone in order to call her husband, Campbell, for help—but she passed out mid-conversation. Upon arriving home, Campbell found his wife unable to move or speak, and said the right side of her face was drooping, according to the report.

Burns was rushed to a nearby hospital, where medical personnel reportedly concluded that she indeed suffered a stroke, and backed up her claims against the salon. They said the motion of her head being repeatedly pulled backwards into the basin caused a clot to form, resulting in blocking blood flow to her brain.

While the condition known as “Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome” is rare, this is not the first time an affected customer has sued a salon because of it. According to a BuzzFeed report, Jennifer Smith sued a San Diego salon after an appointment in 2014 allegedly led to a stroke. A CT scan reportedly showed that at artery in her neck had been damaged  —  and the damage is believed to have been caused from her time at the shampoo sink, similar to Adele Burns’s case.

“When one of those cervical arteries is damaged in some sort of way, you can get what’s called a dissection, which is damage of the inside of the blood vessel, leading to abnormal flow and clotting, and then those clots can shoot north into the brain and cause a stroke,” said Steven R. Zeiler, M.D., Ph.D., head of stroke research at Johns Hopkins, told BuzzFeed. 

“With backing from my doctors, there is no doubt in my mind the salon caused the stroke,” Burns told the Scottish Daily Record, adding that her “life has been turned upside down from what was meant to be a rare day out.”

Following the stroke, Burns says she is unable to drive, leaving her unable to work. The family was forced to sell their home and to this day she still struggles with reading, writing and speaking.

“This hasn’t just left me isolated from society, I’ve been isolated from my own body …I’ve completely lost my independence and sometimes feel like my life is no longer my own.”

Court records state that the stroke could’ve been prevented by a simple “strand test” before Burns’ appointment, which involves testing a small amount of hair and aids in processing times while helping to determine the resulting color.

Burns’ attorney, Jennifer Watson, said the simple test would’ve prevented the need to wash and re-color her hair multiple times.

 “Thousands of people will seek beauty treatment like this every year and Adele is incredibly brave in speaking out as a way of alerting others to the risks.”

Watson said strokes like the one Burns suffered “are not unheard of,” citing “a handful of similar cases across the globe,” though this is the first thought to be in a Scottish court.

Rainbow Room declined to speak with Scottish Daily Record.