Researchers at Michigan State University’s (MSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine have found that riding on a roller coaster can remove a kidney stones. Professor David Wartinger’s findings suggested that rides such as the one at ‘Big Thunder Mountain’ at Disney World was more effective because of the amount of up, down and side to side movements.
His pilot study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association said, “Basically, I had patients telling me that after riding a particular roller coaster at Walt Disney World, they were able to pass their kidney stone. I even had one patient say he passed three different stones after riding multiple times.”
After his patients’ reports, tested out the theory using a validated, synthetic 3D model of a hollow kidney complete with three kidney stones no larger than 4 millimeters inserted into a replica. He took the model in a backpack on Big Thunder Mountain at the theme park 20 times. His initial results corroborated with his 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,” Wartinger said.
After his pilot was successfully conducted, the professor expanded his study and inducted Mark Mitchell (a former MSU resident) into his project. Together, they rode the same roller coaster with multiple kidney models attached to them. They both discovered even better results while sitting in the back of the roller-coaster, with a stone passage rate of nearly 70 per cent.
Both the pilot and the expanded study showed that a 100 per cent passage rate was possible if the stones were located in the upper chamber of the kidney said Wartinger.
“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,” Wartinger said. Adding: “Big Thunder Mountain was the only one that worked. We tried Space Mountain and Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and both failed.”
The professor further explained that rides which were too fast and too violent without the right amount of G-force would pin the stones into the kidney and without allowing it to pass. “The ideal coaster is rough and quick with some twists and turns, but no upside down or inverted movements,” he said.
Wartinger said that the roller-coaster ‘treatment’ was better than getting a lithotripsy – a medical procedure which breaks apart kidney stones that are too large to pass. “The problem though is lithotripsy can leave remnants in the kidney which can result in another stone,” he said. Adding: “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.”
The professor suggested that older people need to go on a roller-coaster ride once a year for maintenance purposes, which would lessen the chances of future issues while minimizing health care costs.
He advised: “You need to heed the warnings before going on a roller coaster. If you have a kidney stone, but are otherwise healthy and meet the requirements of the ride, patients should try it. It’s definitely a lower-cost alternative to health care.”
Wartinger’s discovery has been awarded an Ig Nobel prize – known as the anti-Nobels – which is a spoof award given to things that make people laugh but actually think. It is estimated that around 300,000 people per year go to an emergency room suffering from kidney stones and the cost for treatment could range anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000.