Roller Coasters Could Help Pass Kidney Stones (no, seriously)

roller coaster help pass kidney stones
PC: everydaydisneydotcom

Yeah, the headline is not a joke. It’s hardcore science!

A team of scientists from Michigan State University (MSU) undertook a unique experiment to find out if riding roller coasters could help pass kidney stones as suggested by anecdotes. And surprisingly enough, their preliminary studies on a silicone kidney model confirmed this remarkable theory!

How It All Started

After several of his patients claimed to pass their kidney stones while riding the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster at Orlando’s Disney themed park, Professor, and Urologist, David Wartinger was intrigued.

But what really got him to take this anecdotal evidence a bit more seriously was one especially bizarre case where one of his patients passed 3 stones in a row after taking this Disney roller coaster. 

roller coaster help pass kidney stones
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Roller Coaster PC: disneydotwikiadotcom

“He got off the ride immediately and passed a kidney stone. He got on the same coaster and passed another stone. He rode it a third time and passed three stones in a row. That was just too compelling to ignore,” explains Wartinger about this interesting case. 

So A Unique Experiment Was Conducted 

A team of researchers from MSU, led by Dr. David Wartinger set out to investigate the truth. For this study, Dr. Wartinger’s group used 3D printing to create a clear silicone model of a kidney. This kidney contained Dr. Wastinger’s urine along with three real human kidney stones.

Then Dr. Wartinger and his colleague Marc Mitchell placed this silicone kidney model in a backpack and took it on 60 roller coaster rides on the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. During these rides, the duo held the backpack “at kidney height” between them.

And the Results Were Whoa-some!

“What was amazing was within just a few rides it became obvious that there was a huge difference in passage rates whether you sat in the front or the rear of the coaster,” Wartinger tells The Atlantic. “There was a lot more whipping around in that rear car.”

The team found that while sitting at the back of the car, the kidney stones passed 63.89 percent of the time while for the front, the passage rate dropped by nearly 1/4th and stood at only 16.67 percent.

What’s interesting is that these findings have been produced just with 60 rides on a single roller coaster.

These studies have been published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, where Dr. Wartinger concludes, “Preliminary study findings support the anecdotal evidence that a ride on a moderate-intensity roller coaster could benefit some patients with small kidney stones.”

Impact of this Experiment

Kidney stones are aggregated masses of chemicals and salts in the urine which affects 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives. Though smaller kidney stones can be passed through urine without much hassle but passing the larger ones can be an extremely painful process comparable to childbirth. Getting the smaller kidney stones out in the early stages can reduce much of the pain and complications. And as shown by this experiment, riding a roller coaster may just be one of those economical and free-from-side-effects cures that may help get rid of small-sized kidney stones.

So now it all makes sense to give rollercoasters a shot for a better kidney health. What do you think? In any case, they are more fun than a hospital’s emergency room. 🙂

Do share this story with others who could benefit!




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Aparna Ghildiyal
I’m a true blue gypsy at heart. YES is my buzzword. Planning a travel adventure? You can always count me in. Treat me to good food, and you can be my friend forever. Fashion has been my guilty pleasure ever since I was a little girl who loved poring over the sparkling jewels and opulent gowns of Disney princesses. Keeping fit and showing love to my body is what keeps me feeling good. I LOVE those looooong discussions and stimulating experiences concerning spirituality, religion, and things beyond – the explorer in me is forever fascinated by these. A neuroscientist-turned-writer-turned-online marketer, my little 5-year-old career has seen me wearing multiple hats. In my world, there are no rules chiefly because I ain’t got no motivation to make or break ‘em.

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