Riding Rollercoasters With Epilepsy

When you're an adventurous child filled with imagination and delight, amusement parks can be some of your best childhood memories. For me, it always started with the excitement that came with the food, the crowds, and the entertainment. And even having the ability to win a memorable teddy bear or 2!

And then there are rollercoasters. With electromagnetic spirals launching the coaster into the air, adding to the thrill of the ride. But, from all the airborn excitement and thrill, there can also be risk.

For individuals living with epilepsy, going to an amusement park should also come with some planning.

Taking precautions at amusement parks

When visiting amusement parks and going on rides, it's important to remember that they can put your body in an unusual and unpredictable state, especially when it comes to balance and equilibrium. We may also need to be careful about the placement of our head – if too much motion or banging around might happen.

Additionally, extended exposure to heat during a hot day at an amusement park is also something to consider. With epilepsy, it's important for me to stay hydrated, eat all my meals, and take my necessary medication in order to a avoid seizures.

Seizure warnings

Also, it's important to pay attention to warning signs near ride entrances. Some rides may have safety warnings for individuals with medical conditions such as epilepsy. If you have photosensitive epilepsy, this could include warnings of flashing lights.  

I'm a big fan of having a good time, especially when summer rolls around and there are parades, trips, and get-togethers to enjoy. But as always, with epilepsy, we have to take our own individual precautions.

I always loved amusement parks

My childhood memories of Canada's Wonderland are unforgettable. Every moment I was there was filled with excitement, from the thrilling rides to the mouth-watering funnel cakes. Despite my fear of heights, going to Wonderland every summer was my favorite, and I always made sure to capture every moment with pictures.

It was a place where I felt comfortable and free to have fun without worrying about my hidden disorder.

Riding rollercoasters with epilepsy

My favorite ride was the "Bat," which takes you through corkscrews, spirals, and backward treks. However, as someone with epilepsy and a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt, the 1-minute and 48-second ride was intense, causing me light-headedness, ear ringing, and neck strain.

On the Bat, riders are drawn backward and projected through an unwavering corkscrew and a spectacular spiral. Riders fly by at nearly 75km/hour into a "cobra roll," which takes you straight into a rise upward. Then the ride treks backward through the slopes, curves, and coils. This was a lot for someone like me who has epilepsy and has a cerebral shunt. (My VP shunt is a a thin plastic tube that helps drain extra cerebrospinal fluid from the brain, to help alleviate pressure on my brain caused by fluid buildup.)

Having a seizure after riding the rollercoaster

Despite all my years of enjoying amusement rides, my recent experience felt entirely different. Even on my favorite ride, it became overwhelming, and I knew it was time to leave and stay home. I didn't feel right after riding the Bat.

I had a strange feeling that something was off. At first, I thought it was just exhaustion and wanting to nap, but it persisted. The next day, I had an epileptic episode, which unfortunately occurred even though I was in a safe space, my room. Yes, I rode a rollercoaster, but it had caused a seizure for the first time in years.

Staying safe with epilepsy

It's official now, I won't be able to ride rollercoasters anymore. Although my love for fun and excitement remains, I can't help but be cautious about it. Thank goodness for funnel cakes and ice cream!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The EpilepsyDisease.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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