The other week, I received a fantastic question from a gentleman named Bill. He wanted to know whether there was any neurological basis in (what is apparently) a common technique for recovering a martial arts practitioner from a knock out induced by a strike to pressure points.
Here's Bill's question in full:
As I've pretty much forgotten everything I ever knew about spinal nerves, I pulled a "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", and phoned (read: emailed) a friend. Well, three friends. One of whom contacted a neurology resident.
The common response was a deep skepticism for the premise of the "slaps".
First to respond was graduate student Jennifer Esch, who did some quick research into both pressure points and the “recovery slaps”. On the subject of the “recovery slaps”, she wrote:
However, since the question was of a medical bent, Jenn had the excellent suggestion that I contact a medical student. Luckily, I know 2 MD/PhD students who I thought were particularly bribable, so I emailed them:
MD/PhD No. 2 claimed to have no helpful knowledge, but forwarded on the question to a Neurology resident she knows. He wrote back:
So there we have it. None of us have ever heard of that particular technique; we are all rather skeptical that hitting on the back of the neck will be effective at reversing the TKO. And we are all unified in cautioning martial arts enthusiasts against providing additional trauma, that might exacerbate a potential spinal injury.