There’s comic book “science” and then there’s real-life, really cool science involving roller coasters.
A new study by Michigan State University’s college of Osteopathic Medicine discovered that Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad could really, truly be the happiest place on earth for men in desperate need to pass a kidney stone.
The study’s author David Wartinger and his co-author Marc Mitchell decided to investigate the less expensive alternative to costly medical procedures after patients told him they found relief riding roller coasters. However,
“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,” Wartinger said. “I even had one patient say he passed three different stones after riding multiple times.”
What did their tests find?
“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.
The expanded study, conducted with Mark Mitchell, an MSU resident at the time, included riding the same roller coaster with multiple kidney models attached to the researchers. They discovered even better results while sitting in the back of the coaster, with 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,” Wartinger 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 ideal coaster is rough and quick with some twists and turns, but no upside down or inverted movements,”
How much could this save patients in need of relief?
It’s 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.
It just goes to show some very unexpected dreams do come true at Disney.
Photo Credit: NBC