Thirteen-year-old Scottish teen Megan Stewart (not pictured above) can’t brush her hair while sitting up.
It’s not that she wouldn’t want to — rather, if she does, she runs the risk of her brain shutting down because of the static electricity.
Stewart has a rare condition called “hair brushing syndrome,” which is triggered from static electricity, the Scottish Daily Record reported. The condition is so rare that Stewart’s doctors had only ever heard of one other case of the condition.
As a result, Stewart can’t touch balloons, nor can she wear shiny clothing, because of the danger of static shock, the Mirror reported.
And now, Stewart brushes her hair upside down, with her hair hanging over the side of her bed, to avoid the risk of static electricity, the Daily Mail reported. She also has to keep it damp while brushing it.
It all started three years ago, when Stewart’s mom was brushing her hair on her first day of the sixth grade. As her hair was being brushed, Stewart “flopped over and her lips turned blue,” her mother, Sharon, told the Daily Record.
Stewart’s condition might be a result of birth complications, according to the Daily Mail. Stewart was born weighing 2 pounds and 5 ounces, and also was born with a hole in her diaphragm, causing her stomach to fall through and only one lung to grow because of the lack of room in her body.
It’s possible that Stewart’s condition might be a form of a reflex anoxic seizure, where people faint or show symptoms of epilepsy, in response to triggers like fear, loud noises or pain, the Daily Record reported.
Gizmodo pointed out that Stewart could actually have Hair-Combing Syncope. Syncope, also known as fainting, is defined as a loss of consciousness and posture caused by lack of blood flow to the brain. In a 2009 study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, University of Nevada School of Medicine researchers identified 111 patients whose syncope was triggered from hair-grooming.
The most common causes of syncope are dizziness, drowsiness, light-headedness and “blacking out,” feeling weak or unsteady and fainting, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It’s relatively common, with 3 percent of men and 3.5 percent of women experiencing an episode of syncope at one point in their lives. [source]