roller coaster rides

Ups and Downs of Theme Parks Rides

Summer is in full force and with it, trips to theme and amusement parks. I’m a huge lover of them, including the thrill rides, like roller coasters. In 2000-2002 there were many stories and studies in the news about the potential for brain bleeds, and these were about people without bleeding disorders. Last year came the first reported case of symptomatic bilateral subdural hematoma associated with riding a centrifugal motion simulator ride. 

What does this mean for our kids (and big kids–adults!) who love to ride roller coasters and simulator rides? Have you asked your hematologist for his or her opinion? I decided to rerun one of my favorite articles from PEN 2002 about risks for kids with hemophilia at theme parks, written by Dr. Richard Lipton.

Summer is here, and millions of families will seek adventure and thrills at theme parks like Six Flags, Disney World or Universal Studios. What a wonderful day a family can have at a theme park! Kids and parents love the rides, water slides, entertainment and general excitement. Are there any special safety concerns or precautions for families with a child with hemophilia? Yes!

Think of a theme park as a very big playground, but with an atmosphere favoring less parental control—a setting that can lead to impulsive behavior by children. Imagine yourself at a typical theme park. You’ll have general health concerns. Parks can be crowded, hot and sunny—so apply sunblock and drink plenty of water. Theme parks have paved surfaces, harder than public playgrounds, and filled with children running. Your child needs to wear appropriate footwear. Flip-flops or Texas might be suitable for water activities, but sneakers are safer for walking and running.

You’ll also have concerns specific to the theme park you visit. “Mind Eraser,” “Shockwave,” and “Nitro”—what about these special high-end rollercoaster rides? Riders are frequently subjected to changing speeds that result in “G-forces” similar to those experienced by trained, appropriately suited and restrained combat fighter pilots. Your child becomes “Top Gun” in shorts and a T-shirt! Parents should remember that any person can experience head trauma on these specialized rides.

How is the head affected by a ride like the Mind Eraser? Recall that your brain is surrounded by fluid; it is floating inside your skull. This arrangement cushions the brain, and reduces movement, protecting your brain from direct trauma and sudden shifts in skull position. It works quite well in our daily activities, and in automobiles (as long as we’re wearing a seatbeat). Now imagine speeding over the crest in a roller coaster. All of a sudden you’re weight- less, like an astronaut—this is called a Negative G- force. (You’ll have no trouble recognizing this moment, because every- body screams!) Then, after the coaster speeds down and resumes its climb, you feel your backside being pushed into the seat. It feels like the force of gravity has suddenly increased. This is a Positive G- force. Although your body is restrained, high G-forces could exceed the protective cushioning of fluid surrounding the brain, and could cause injury.

Interestingly, this year New Jersey became the first state to seek legal restrictions on the maximum allowable G-forces on amusement park rides. The regulations result from concerns raised by physicians about the association between neurologic damage and high G-forces on these rides. Certainly, such injuries occur very infrequently, but serve as a cautionary note to all riders of high-end roller coasters—with hemophilia, or without.

My advice? Take some precautions. Level the playing field by giving your child a prophylactic infusion of factor the morning of your visit to a theme park. Yesterday’s dose is not sufficient! Don’t wait until your child reports the symptoms of a bleed—it may be too late. Besides, your child is not going to report the flop he took running to the haunted house until you’re stuck in traffic on the long, long ride home.

Infuse first, then have a great time!

Dr. Richard Lipton was the physician in charge of the hemophilia treatment center at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. As a United States Air Force Physician (1966–1968), Dr. Lipton knew several fighter pilots, who took him on “joy rides” (with lots of G-forces) that more than fulfilled his childhood fantasies. He is now retired.

 

 

Head Case: Corkscrew, Hulk, Dueling Dragons…

I admit I am an adrenaline junkie. I have a need for speed, love a good rush and look for ways to release the adrenaline flowing through my veins: big water rafting, cycling, running, bungee jumping, skydiving.  When none of those are available, I hop on a roller coaster! 
Luckily I have a sweet amusement park 20 minutes from me, that features “The Corkscrew,” and the “Yankee Cannonball.” The Cannonball is an ancient roller coaster, you know, the wooden ones that shake, rattle and roll. Scary and thrilling. Last time I went on it, I could barely move my neck. So last night I tried the Corkscrew, a metal, smooth gliding, super fast coaster that goes upside down… all while it’s playing “Stayin’ Alive.” Really. 
But this one also gave me a supreme headache. I have a touch of arthritis in my neck, and am noticing it more and more as I get older. I need to take care of my head. 
So do our kids with hemophilia. As coasters get more rickety, or faster… we need to protect their heads. How safe are roller coasters anyway?
In one report, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in
Ohio stated that about 4,000 injuries happen annually from roller coaster rides.
This begs the question: are they safe for children with hemophilia, aside from
accidents?
First, take some common-sense precautions:
1. Obey the listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions. Your child grows each year grown since last year — is
he tall enough to make it? Don’t let him get on if he isn’t.
2. Watch
the ride first, so you know what to expect.
 See how riders are loaded and unloaded. Watch
how the safety belts are fastened first, so that when you get on the ride, you
know what to do.
3. Ask the park employee
questions what they think. 
Tell
them to double check your safety belt.
4. Keep you head, hands, arms legs and feet inside the ride at all
times.
 It’s important to
keep all body parts inside the vehicle while it’s moving. Put you hands in the air
for that first drop, but be sure to return them to your car
for the next part of the ride.
5. Keep your eyes looking forward and your head up to protect your
neck from injury.
Roller coasters are prone to sudden accelerations and abrupt changes in direction. Keep you
head up and looking forward to ensure the sudden jerks don’t hurt your neck. (I
cradled mine against the head rest to prevent the neck-snapping turns)
6. Wait until instructed
to remove your safety belt/lap bars/shoulder harnesses and exit the ride. 
7. Take frequent breaks between roller coaster rides.  Give your body time to rest and readjust before
jumping onto the next coaster. If you start to feel unwell, dizzy, nauseated, don’t
ride!
8. Don’t get on a ride that looks poorly maintained.  If your gut tells you that wooden coaster looks too
rickety, opt out. Especially on those road-side, temporary carnivals.
9. Never stand up while a ride is in motion.  If something happens and the ride stops mid-ride,
fight the urge, stay seated, and wait for an operator to give further
instructions.
10. Give your child a prophy dose before
going to the park.
Bring his supplies with you… just in case! And have him wear
his medical ID jewelry.


Book I Just Read

The Art of Racing in the Rain [Kindle] 2013

Garth Stein
Easy to read, sentimental, and
recommended by a friend, I was unfortunately one of the 97 out of over 4,000 on Amazon.com who just couldn’t get into this fictional book. A story told by Enzo, a dog, whose
owner wants to pursue his dream to be a world-class sports car racer, it’s also
a story about grief, loss, statuatory rape, separation… all heavy topics related
by a dog, which doesn’t act or sound like a dog. It’s a bit gimmicky; the writing
is not that good, and it’s just not a sophisticated book. A much better book
with the POV of a dog is A Dog’s Purpose, or even better The Story of Edger
Sawtelle
. My apologies to all those who loved this book. One out of five stars.

Theme Park Summer Fun

The story in the news about the woman who died at a theme park in Texas got me thinking of rerunning one of our articles about risks for kids with hemophilia at theme parks. Here is a great rerun from the August 2002 issue of PEN, written by Dr. Richard Lipton.
Summer is here, and millions of families will seek adventure and thrills at theme parks like Six Flags, Disney World or Universal Studios. What a wonderful day a family can have at a theme park! Kids and parents love the rides, water slides, entertainment and general excitement. Are there any special safety concerns or precautions for families with a child with hemophilia? Yes!
Think of a theme park as a very big playground, but with an atmosphere favoring less parental control—a setting that can lead to impulsive behavior by children.
Imagine yourself at a typical theme park. You’ll have general health concerns. Parks can be crowded, hot and sunny—so apply sunblock and drink plenty of water.
Theme parks have paved surfaces, harder than public playgrounds, and filled with children running. Your child needs to wear appropriate footwear. Flip-flops or “Tevas” might be suitable for water activities, but sneakers are safer for walking and running.
You’ll also have concerns specific to the theme park you visit. “Mind Eraser,” “Shockwave,” and “Nitro”—what about these special high-end rollercoaster rides? Riders are frequently subjected to changing speeds that result in “G-forces” similar to those experienced by trained, appropriately suited and restrained combat fighter pilots. Your child becomes “Top Gun” in shorts and a T-shirt! Parents should remember that any person can experience head trauma on these specialized rides.
How is the head affected by a ride like the Mind Eraser? Recall that your brain is surrounded by fluid; it is floating inside your skull. This arrangement cushions the brain, and reduces movement, protecting
your brain from direct trauma and sudden shifts in skull position. It works quite well in our daily activities, and in automobiles (as long as we’re wearing a seatbeat). Now imagine speeding over the crest in a roller coaster. All of a sudden you’re weight- less, like an astronaut—this is called a Negative G- force. (You’ll have no trouble recognizing this moment, because every- body screams!) Then, after the coaster speeds down and resumes its climb, you feel your backside being pushed into the seat. It feels like the force of gravity has suddenly increased. This is a Positive G- force. Although your body is restrained, high G-forces could exceed the protective cushioning of fluid surrounding the brain, and could cause injury.
Interestingly, this year New Jersey became the first state to seek legal restrictions on the maximum allowable G-forces on amusement park rides. The regulations result from concerns raised by physicians about the association between neurologic damage and high G-forces on these rides. Certainly, such injuries occur very infrequently, but serve as a cautionary note to all riders of high-end roller coasters—with hemophilia, or without.
My advice? Take some precautions. Level the playing field by giving your child a prophylactic infusion of factor the morning of your visit to a theme park. Yesterday’s dose is not sufficient! Don’t wait until your child reports the symptoms of a bleed—it may be too late. Besides, your child is not going to report the flop he took running to the haunted house until you’re stuck in traffic on the long, long ride home.
Infuse first, then have a great time!
Dr. Lipton is the Physician in Charge of the Hemophilia Treatment Center at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. As a United States Air Force Physician (1966–1968), Dr. Lipton knew several fighter pilots, who took him on “joy rides” (with lots of G-forces) that more than fulfilled his childhood fantasies.

Great Book I Just Read
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Kindle)
This could be America’s greatest ghost story novel. Two women are summoned by Dr. Montague, a paranormal investigator, to Hill House, a deserted Victorian mansion, once owned by Hugh Crane, whose wife died in a horse-drawn carriage accident coming up the long road to the house, on her first trip there; Hugh’s daughter was raised there in isolation, and eventually became an old woman, dependent on a caretaker, who abandoned her one night while having a romantic liaison–the elderly daughter died. The house is now “vile” in appearance and rumored to be haunted. The women are invited to stay for a week, to see if their presence may stir up any ghostly activity. Each women is believed to have some sort of experience with the supernatural. Theo is sharp, attractive, sophisticated and sure of her abilities; Eleanor is a plain spinster, shy and awkward, who spent the last 11 years caring for her sick and demanding mother. For Eleanor, this is the most exciting and significant thing she has ever done in her life. And so the story takes off, chilling and psychological. Is the ghost of the dead caretaker, whose life mimicked Eleanor’s, walking the hallways? Who is responsible for the pounding on the walls at night, the chilling laughter, the handwritten messages on the wall? Is Eleanor crazy, or is the house haunted? Skillfully written, a pager turner and a deep psychological profile, the book has justly earned its kudos. The 1961 black and white film “The Haunting” by the famed Robert Wise is truly one of the scariest movies I have ever seen… and yet “nothing” actually happens… or does it? Four/five stars.
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