St Paul MN Chiropractic Treatments | Head, Neck, & Back Injuries
Here it is, the end of summer. Kids going back to school and the Minnesota State Fair. If you are considering a visit to the an amusement park over the long Labor Day weekend, and you plan to ride a roller coaster, be sure you are familiar with the health risks including the symptoms and risks associated with neck injuries and yes, even whiplash. Whiplash caused by roller coasters?
Headed to The Minnesota State Fair or Amusement Park?
Amusement parks are meant for exactly what the name implies — amusement. But when you’re visiting with kids, a fun-filled day of family entertainment can quickly morph into a bad experience.
Amusement parks are actually pretty safe. But accidents do happen, and many visitors have no idea how common these injuries are. Each year many people are injured on amusement park rides or as a result of other hazards found at these parks.
Amusement park rides can take the form of roller coasters, bumper cars, water rides, etc. These types of attractions are abundant and can be found in almost every theme park. Their speed, height, and uniqueness reel in visitors to give them a try.
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.
Just consider the way that your body is thrown around when you are on a fast ride. You are whipped in all directions and although your chest is often securely strapped in, your head and neck take the brunt of the impact and you are simulating whiplash motions.
Diffuse axonal injuries are particularly common; these occur when the head is jerked suddenly and violently in the wrong direction and has been linked with whiplash as well as shaken baby syndrome. Concussion may be a milder type of diffuse axonal injury.
The average speed of a roller coaster is currently around 70mph but they can reach as high as 100mph. Just think of the damage a car crashing at this speed could do!
G force is another issue with amusement rides and with some G forces reaching higher than those tolerated by astronauts at lift-off, it is clear that those who chose to thrill seek on roller coasters and the like are putting themselves at risk of serious personal injury.
Head, neck, and back injuries are reportedly the most commonly reported amusement park injuries. Amusement park goers can also suffer serious go-kart and bumper-car injuries involving crashes with other riders.
Roller coasters are, by far, the most commonly cited ride in both accident and injury reports for patrons over the age of six. Kiddie rides are cited most often for children 6 and under. Spinning rides are the second most frequently cited ride type.
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 strengthen 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.
Surviving a Family Trip to the Amusement Park
It is recommended with the more aggressive rides that patrons 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 St Paul MN 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 sports injury or car accident. Have fun–and be safe! Don’t let an injury spoil your day!
Here is some excellent information about safety and risk factors at amusement parks.
Wild rides => occasional injuries!