Roller Coasters and Brain Injury:Fact or Fiction

Saturday, September 24, 2005 9:34 AM
Pounding a head on table could result in brain injury. I do not know how many brain injuries are suffered due to that activity, but I am sure there are quite a few. Even more importantly is the dynamics of the head smacking a table, and how that is something that could cause a concussion or worse.

The sudden impact forces with such action, and the stiffness of the table are something to be concerned with. The tables youngs modulus is many times greater than say a pillow, so it will be a sudden and hard impact. Also considering impulse and momentum, the sudden impact time is very short, creating a drastic change in momentum and sudden impulse. These type of forces could be damaging to the brain and I am sure most doctors would agree.

However with roller coasters, the trains are padded and this type of injury of someone hitting their head does not take place. Roller coasters restraints are engineered such that the acceleration of the passenger relative to the train is kept to a minimum. So the restraint does not allow much movement, and prevents such type of injuries of being thrown from side to side, or forward and back violently. Also with the ride being designed around passengers heartline, and banking the curves such that lateral g's are minimized on modern steel coasters, the side to side movement is very minimal. The wooden coasters for the most part are not designed for minimal lateral g's, but have less than 1.5g's and the restraints and seat dividers limit the movement.

The other type of injury that could be associated with the dynamics of the ride would be g induced loss of consciouness (GLOC). They looked at GLOC but the accelerations in g's on roller coasters in the normal, lateral, and forward/aft direction are not even close to causing it. Also the ASTM g force limits are set at 6 for positive (well it drops down to 4 after like more than 5 seconds, but coasters have this type of g's for less than 1 sec), and 3 g's for lateral. So every coaster in the Six Flags chain was less than these, even the ones before the standards were set. I can not think of a roller coaster that pulls more than 6 postive g's or 3 lateral. Even still the g's too have GLOC are closer to 10 and this is why I agree with the panel, that GLOC would not happen on a roller coaster. Even still GLOC is not something people are sure if it causes brain injury, but roller coasters don't even get close to subjecting their passengers to GLOC.

Saturday, September 24, 2005 10:02 AM
You are far too serious. Lighten up a bit. Have some fun. I and RGB were being sarcastic.
All I have to say anymore is, "Wow".
Saturday, September 24, 2005 11:39 PM
'This is the thread that will not end. It just goes on and on my friends...'

Sing it with me now.

Sunday, September 25, 2005 7:10 AM

RatherGoodBear said:
New idea for a topic: Pounding head on tables and Brain Injury-- negligible or no risk.

P.S. Has anyone heard what GADv is going to name that rocket coaster they're going to be getting in 2005?

I am not sure, Bear. I think it has something to do with tigers.....Kitty Krap: The Ride? I forget. ;-)

They are suppossed to make an announcement soon. (I just love making fun of my own favorite coasters!)

Banging your head on a table could cause brain injury, but what about headbanging to metal? ;-)


Sunday, September 25, 2005 2:53 PM
Roller coasters involve some tiny risk of brain injury, so do sneezes.

A statistical correlation is another thing. This requires that the injuries be common enough to stand out against the background noise of other causes of brain injuries. It also requires that the injuries be independant of other causes such as a pre-existing condition. I think that brain injuries due to roller coasters won't make either of these requirements.

For example, if you have a vessel in you brain that if weak and ready to go, it is going to go at some point whether it is due to roller coaster riding or sneezing or whatever. The injury is really caused by the defect, not the coaster riding and is not an independent event. Assuming that this type of defect is not more or less common in people who ride coasters than in the general population, then there will be the same incidence amoung coaster riders as the general population. It will just pop when riding a coaster rather than sneezing, etc. and there will be not greater incidence.

As for any independent brain injuries that come for coasters or other amusement rides, they are so rare that they aren't statisticly significant when measured against the background of other brain injuries.

Sunday, September 25, 2005 3:02 PM

Banging your head on a table could cause brain injury, but what about headbanging to metal? ;-)

My mom always thought that it was giving me brain damage, but there were only 9 cases in 3 billion, so, who really knows? ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2005 11:40 PM
Yeah, and since there were only 9 in 3 billion, that is insignifigant enough that it really didn't happen, right?
Monday, September 26, 2005 1:20 PM
OK, here's my summary of what people have been trying to say for the previous 100 some posts.

Riding coasters carries an insignificant risk, due to the number of safety considerations taken into account in the design of the coasters, the track, the trains, the restraints, etc. Because of this, the risk associated with riding coasters is comparable to, if not lower than, many other activities including common activities in which the average person engages everyday. While coaster riding is not totally risk-free, it is not as inherently dangerous as some would have us believe.

Beast Fan, as a future engineer, you need to learn that being wordy is not our friend. We engineers don't get paid by the word-- leave that to the lawyers and politicians. Part of our job is to take technical information that the GP may not understand and explain it in terms they will.

Everybody else, no need to pick on Mr. Fan so much. If you don't like him or his opinions, you can always just skip over them and not feel compelled to respond. Likewise, if you don't like me or my opinion, feel free to do the same. I'll just leave a burning bag of dog poop on your front porch. :)

Monday, September 26, 2005 1:26 PM
Well stated, RGB.
Monday, September 26, 2005 5:57 PM
I don't feel that anyone was picking on him. I think that they were attempts to clarify the point they were trying to make. At least, that is what I was trying to do.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 10:32 AM
It is hard not to be put off by extreme verbosity not to mention fight picking.

Mr. Fan, boil it down! Take a look at Mr. Fisher's post. Well thought out and to the point.


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