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Jeffrey Thompson
"We have never had any problems
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 03:41 GMT
Rollercoasters cause brain bleeding

Heading for a drop: A rollercoaster

A doctor has warned about the hidden dangers of rollercoaster riding after a woman suffered blood clots on the brain.

The unnamed 24-year-old woman rode several of the fastest rides at a Japanese amusement park, including the Fujiyama, reputed to be one of the fastest and highest roller coasters in the world.

It is thought that the violent head movements endured during the rides could have burst veins on the surface of the brain.

The woman complained to doctors of severe headaches after leaving the park. Neurologists from the Chiba University School of Medicine in Japan examined her.

She was given an MRI scan which revealed two areas of blood clots on the brain.

In this case she was lucky - following surgery, her symptoms gradually eased and she recovered fully in eight weeks.

Blood clots on the brain, or subdural haematomas, can cause vomiting, difficulty walking or changes in mental abilities.

They are extremely rare in young women, occurring principally in older men with alcoholism, hypertension or diabetes.

But subdural haematomas can also be caused by blows to the head, falling into a sitting position, severe sneezing or coughing and strain from heavy lifting.

High and fast danger

Dr Toshio Fukutake, of Chiba University School of Medicine, said: "Although it is rare for people to develop subdural haematomas after riding rollercoasters, it can happen.

"Giant roller coasters which are higher and faster than typical roller coasters may be more dangerous.

"Managers at amusement parks and people who enjoy these rides need to be aware of the potential health risks.

"The woman's subdural haematomas and resulting headaches may have been caused by the up-and-down, back-and-forth motions of the roller coaster or the acceleration force may have been strong enough to rupture veins."

Roller coasters have been linked to rare cases other health problems in the past, such as glaucoma, retina detachment and even leakage of cerebral-spinal fluid.

Jeffrey Thompson, managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, said: "We have run rollercoasters for over 100 years, and I have never of anything like that ever happening.

"Obviously, blood clots can occur at any time in anyone's life and there is a chance it could happen on a rollercoaster, but it must be very remote - it certainly does not seem to be brought on by rollercoasters."

Mr Thompson said the pressures exerted on the human body by riding on a rollercoaster were actually relatively small.

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