Amusement Park Rides

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Amusement Rides May Be a “Pain in the Neck”

Ever think that a roller coaster ride could cause as much damage to the body as a car accident? The odds of injury from riding a thrill ride are very low for most people, but motion-related back/neck injuries and damage are the most frequently reported ride-related injuries. Riders’ bodies are not normally uniform in size, shape, or resistance to every ride. Injuries vary from person to person.According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), neck sprain is the most common type of ride-related injury treated in hospital emergency rooms. As thrill rides whip the human body around, the weight of the head exerts strong forces on the neck. Risk factors for neck injury include:

  • Previous injuries or pre-existing medical conditions affecting the neck.
  • Position of your body during abrupt acceleration and quick changing movements.
  • Seat and restraint design, including padding and neck support. Coasters with low-backed bench     seats may allow the rider’s neck to snap backward and hip only seat belt restraints cause bodily trauma.
  • Strength of rider’s neck. Full-sized rides are designed for a median adult male weighing 170 pounds.
  • Younger, older, and more slender riders do not have as much muscle strength in their necks to hold their heads upright. CPSC data from hospital emergency rooms indicates that women are twice as likely to suffer ride-related neck injuries as men.
  • Flexibility of rider’s neck. Older riders and people who suffer from conditions affecting flexibility and bone strength, such as arthritis, should avoid “High-G” rides that tend to whip the rider’s head around.

It is recommended with the more aggressive rides that patrons keep keep their heads upright and facing forward. It was found that ride-related neurological injuries happened when the rider turned his/her head, for instance to check on a child seated next to them, right before a change in direction or thrust of acceleration.

Newer rides are designed to support the body better and offer better protection from certain injuries especially to the head and neck. Seats and restraints are designed to discourage side-to-side movement. More “theme” related rides are designed with visual elements in a position to have the rider’s attention focused forward. Parents should teach their children the importance of riding with their eyes and head forward while they ride.

A related article entitled “Amusement Park Injuries and Death” published in the January issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, reported that amusement ride-related brain injury has risen substantially since 1990. It was reported that, “Carotid and vertebral artery dissections are often associated with indirect trauma or torsion of the neck.  The acceleration and abrupt changes in direction on a roller coaster may induce uncontrolled rotation of the head with stretching of the cervical vessels and aorta similar to that observed with acute deceleration in a motor vehicle crash.”

To avoid pain and discomfort from an amusement park ride, visit your chiropractor. Your chiropractor can check for and treat injuries to the head, neck and spine. After all, a visit to the amusement park could possibly cause as much damage as a vehicle collision. Have fun–and be safe!

Source: Saferparks,


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