Amusement park injuries and deaths

Ann Emerg Med. 2002 Jan;39(1):65-72. doi: 10.1067/mem.2002.120127.


Media coverage of amusement park injuries has increased over the past several years, raising concern that amusement rides may be dangerous. Amusement park fatalities and increases in reported injuries have prompted proposed legislation to regulate the industry. Since 1979, the medical literature has published reports of 4 subdural hematomas, 4 internal carotid artery dissections, 2 vertebral artery dissections, 2 subarachnoid hemorrhages, 1 intraparenchymal hemorrhage, and 1 carotid artery thrombosis with stroke, all related to roller coaster rides. In this article, we review reports of amusement park injuries in the medical literature and Consumer Product Safety Commission data on the overall risk of injury. We also discuss the physics and the physiologic effects of roller coasters that may influence the type and severity of injuries. Although the risk of injury is low, emergency physicians are advised to include participation on thrill rides as part of their history, particularly when evaluating patients presenting with neurologic symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Humans
  • Recreation*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology