Are Roller Coasters plain Fun or Is there an Inherent Risk?

Children aged 10-14 yrs. are the ones who most often sustain injuries on roller coasters. As per US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Thousands of children get hurt each year and some of them even end up in the emergency room.

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Fun can be dangerous, In 2016, US registered number of serious medical cases caused by roller coaster rides. (Illustration by Sagrika Saraf, New Delhi)

– By Dr Bharti Raizada

In the United States of America, millions of people, young children, youth, adult, are fond of Rollercoaster rides. They want to have fun and feel the thrill with family and friends by trying out some new and fast roller coaster rides.

Latest roller coasters can drop you from 500 feet height and can accelerate from zero to 120 miles/hr within four seconds.

Is Roller Coaster Ride Safe?

The roller coaster rides are usually fun and safe. When compared with driving on roads, people are safer on the roller coasters. They are usually maintained in good shape and checked frequently. There are computer systems to ensure smooth rides and eliminate the chances of accidents and operator errors, however, accidents do happen.

Children aged 10-14 yrs. are the ones who most often sustain injuries on roller coasters. As per US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Thousands of children get hurt each year and some of them even end up in the emergency room. Spinal cord injuries and fractures are the possibilities of cases.

Injury rate increased 60 percent from 1996 to 2000 in which 10,580 injuries needed emergency treatment.

In the year 2016, around 30,900 emergency room visits were documented for injuries. During the years 1990 and 2004 at least 52 deaths were reported and 22 deaths since 2010 to present.

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People on roller coaster ride. (image source: flick, available for reuse)

The major effects caused on the body by the twisting, turning, dropping, rising, and catapulting of the roller coasters are:

  • Blood flow rapidly changes in different parts of body
  • Blood pressure and heart rate increase
  • Brain fluid moves rapidly and pressure changes occur
  • Dizziness, spinning sensation feeling
  • Subdural hematoma or bleeding in brain can occur
  • Barotrauma to ears can occur because of ear fluid movement and pressure changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stress disorder/PTSD

A person with pre-existing diseases and older aged people have higher risks, so they should avoid the roller coaster rides.

People who should avoid Roller coaster ride?

  • People with uncontrolled blood pressure
  • People with history of arrhythmia
  • People with spinal injuries
  • History of aneurysms
  • Stroke
  • Patients on anticoagulants/sedatives
  • Pregnant females
  • Every ride has Height and weight specifications.

People falling in the above categories should strictly avoid the roller coaster rides. A normal person can feel Dizziness, Excessive and abnormal sleepiness, confusion, headache, sinking feeling, lightheadedness and blackout soon after the roller coaster rides. These can occur even a few days after the ride.

So next time when you go for a roller coaster ride, keep these associated dangers in mind. If you do not feel comfortable do not go for this thrill. Do not get pressurized by your children. Roller coasters can have medical consequences. Be vigilant all the time and follow your instinct. Stay safe!