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As improbable as this headline sounds, strokes can be caused by riding a roller coaster. Although this phenomenon has been previously reported, the case of the four year-old who suffered a stroke after riding two roller coasters at an amusement park was recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Neurology.

According to articles about the case, one of the physicians treating the child determined that the gravitational forces of the roller coaster rides on the boy’s head and neck, coupled with the sudden movements of the rides, caused a tear in one of the child’s carotid arteries – the main arteries supplying oxygenated blood to the brain. Thereafter, a blood clot formed at the site of the tear, broke free and traveled to the boy’s brain, triggering the stroke.

The young boy, who was in good health prior to riding the two roller coasters, began vomiting the next day and the left side of his face suddenly began drooping – a common sign of stroke. He later exhibited weakness on his left side and was unable to walk. His parents took him to a hospital where he was diagnosed with stroke. After months of treatment and much improvement, the boy now walks with a limp and is continuing therapy in hopes of returning to his pre-stroke baseline.

Trauma to the neck and the rapid twisting of the head have long been known as a potential cause of stroke.  This is a similar mechanism that produced the on-field stroke suffered by former Jacksonville Jaguar linebacker Russell Alan during a violent tackle. We have seen such strokes caused by motor vehicle collisions, vigorous chiropractic manipulations of the neck, improper positioning of a patient during a lengthy surgery, and a karate chop to the neck.

Moreover, the symptoms of such a stroke are not always evident right after the harmful event.  In 2013 a south Florida jury returned a $1.8 million verdict in favor of a gentleman who suffered a stroke four weeks after one of his carotid arteries was injured in a car wreck.

The warning signs of stroke include the sudden onset of facial dropping, numbness or weakness on one side of the body, vision or speech problems, dizziness, trouble walking or loss of balance, or a severe headache. Should you see any of these warning signs, get to the closest designated stroke center immediately.  When it comes to stroke, “Time lost is brain lost.”

Stroke is the number one cause of long-term disability and the fifth cause of death in the United States.  Click here to find the closest Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Center to you.

Cases involving stroke are extremely complicated and require unique expertise and understanding of this complex medical condition. If you have any questions about a stroke that was caused by someone else’s fault or may not have been properly treated, feel free to call Terrell Hogan attorney Matt Sowell at (904) 722-2228 or email him at sowell@terrellhogan.com.