NO KIDDING: Roller coaster rides can help you pass kidney stones and are an 'effective alternative to health care'
A roller coaster ride can be an effective lower-cost alternative to health care for kidney stone patients, according to a professor from Michigan State University
It is hard to imagine how a person who has kidney stones feels. The pain is unbearable and makes you want to look for any solution that could make the situation less excrutiating. As it turns out, the answer to passing kidney stone had been in front of us all along.
A professor from Michigan State University is now claiming that a certain roller coaster, Big Thunder Mountain, featured at Florida’s Disney World can help people pass a kidney stone. In fact, he is so confident that he believes this trick has a 70 percent success rate. David Wartinger, professor emeritus at the Department of Osteopathic Surgical Specialties, decided to research the phenomenon after hearing many of his patients describe their experience.
“Basically, I had patients telling me that, after riding a particular roller coaster at Disney World, they were able to pass their kidney stone,” he told MSU TODAY. "I even had one patient say he passed three different stones after riding multiple times.”
This led to David taking matters in his own hands and verify if these claims were really true. In order to test the results, he used a validated, synthetic 3D model of a hollow kidney complete with three kidney stones no larger than 4 millimeters inserted into the replica.
He took the model in his backpack and then headed to enjoy a ride on Big Thunder Mountain at the theme park 20 times. His initial results verified patient reports. “In the pilot study, sitting in the last car of the roller coaster showed about a 64 percent passage rate, while sitting in the first few cars only had a 16 percent success rate,” he said.
In an expanded study, conducted by Mark Mitchell, the researcher was asked to ride the roller coaster with multiple kidney models attached. To their surprise, they discovered even better results. They discovered that, while sitting at the back of the roller coaster, they had a passage rate of nearly 70 percent. They also found that both studies showed a 100 percent passage rate if the stones were located in the upper chamber of the kidney.
"In all, we used 174 kidney stones of varying shapes, sizes and weights to see if each model worked on the same ride and on two other roller coasters,” David said. “Big Thunder Mountain was the only one that worked. We tried Space Mountain and Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and both failed.”
The same results weren't obtained on other rides because they are not too fast. "The ideal coaster is rough and quick with some twists and turns, but no upside down or inverted movements,” he said. It’s estimated that around 300,000 people per year go to an emergency room suffering from kidney stones and having a stone removed can be a long and expensive process.
Lithotripsy is a treatment which is often used to break down stones that are too large. "The problem though is lithotripsy can leave remnants in the kidney which can result in another stone,” he said. “The best way to potentially eliminate this from happening is to try going on a roller coaster after a treatment when the remnants are still small.”
He added that patients could even try going on a coaster once a year as maintenance. "You need to heed the warnings before going on a roller coaster,” he advised. “If you have a kidney stone, and are otherwise healthy and meet the requirements of the ride, patients should try it. It’s definitely a lower-cost alternative to health care.”