If your idea of summer fun includes a few rides on that big, record-breaking roller coaster at your local amusement park, you may be getting more out of it than you thought.
Dr. David Wartinger, urological surgeon and professor emeritus at Michigan State University, was frequently regaled with intriguing anecdotes from his patients who claimed to have passed kidney stones after a vigorous ride on a roller coaster. The ride most often mentioned was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. When one of his patients claimed to have released not one, but three separate stones during successive rides on this coaster, his interest was piqued.
He decided to conduct an experiment, requiring a clear, silicone kidney made from a 3-D printer, a container of real urine, a trip to Disney World in Florida, and no less than 200 rides on Big Thunder Mountain. The results of his experiment will be of great interest to anyone currently suffering from the pain of kidney stones. Dr. Wartinger found that by riding the roller coaster with his special silicone kidney, kidney stones could indeed be passed naturally after a ride on Big Thunder Mountain. In fact, Big Thunder Mountain was not the only roller coaster ride which provided these benefits; any moderate-intensity roller coaster accomplished the same trick.
For maximum results, the back seat works better than the front seat. Kidney stones were passed 63.89% of the time when the silicone kidney was placed in the rear seat of the roller coaster, compared with only 16.67% when it was placed at the front. It’s also important for the kidney stones to be small. Stones too large to fit through the ureter, the duct which connects your kidneys to your bladder, won’t be able to move out with this method. Still, it’s intriguing news for people who suffer from kidney stones and would prefer to avoid the excruciating pain, and the potential danger of an emergency room visit.
Now that Dr. Wartinger has compiled these preliminary results, the next step is for real humans with real kidney stones to get involved. Patients included in the study will need to have before and after ultrasounds taken to confirm their results. But if the new study is successful, there will be a new reason to include an annual roller coaster ride on your list of summer activities. Not only is it fun and invigorating, but it may improve the health of your kidneys too!