A patient claimed to have passed three kidney stones during a roller coaster ride at Disney World — and, instead of dismissing the idea, researchers at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine decided to test the theory.
Using a 3D printer, they made a silicone model of the patient’s kidney, filled it with urine and three kidney stones, and rode 60 times on the Big Thunder Mountain Railway — described as a ‘moderate-intensity’ ride.
Their study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, found the roller coaster did actually succeed in passing the kidney stones.
Sitting at the front of the ride dislodged the stones 17 per cent of the time, while at the back the success rate rose to 64 per cent.
Study author David Wartinger told Discover magazine that the correct combination of twists and turns may be different for each patient. ‘I suspect that there are roller coasters that are more advantageous for one person versus another,’ he said.
He also said anecdotal evidence suggested adventure sport activities such as bungee jumping and dirt biking might have the same benefit.
Kidney stones are jagged lumps of minerals. They must be passed through the urethra and, if too large, may require surgery or a visit to A&E.
One in 11 people will have a kidney stone at some point in their lives.
There has been much in the news recently about the potential risks of riding roller coasters, but this is one potential benefit that most people will never have considered.
Study limitations include using a small-scale model kidney rather than actual people and taking no account of different roller coaster characteristics.
It won’t alter medical views for a second but it is rather a fun study. If you have kidney stones and like roller coaster rides then you just might get a benefit that you would never have imagined.
Research score: 2/5