Roller coasters

Our son had his decompression surgery in August, 2010 and is doing well now. His neurosurgeon and neurologist both have told us that roller coaster rides/amusement park rides are ok for him, but I've read many other places online that these are no-no's, even after surgery, for those with Chiari I. Our son is wanting to ride the coasters, but I am torn as to whether this is advisable or might cause him some problems. Any advice or feedback appreciated!


I am surprised that both docs gave the OK for roller coaster rides....My NS told me that he highly advised against such rides and anything that would jerk my head and neck around.

Being the person I am...I went against this input...For me, it was a bad thing..for I suffered for weeks after going on Super Man with my daughter..What I do for love!!!!

I am giving my personal experience...I am not a doctor...However, it was not a good experience for me and I should have listened to what my NS had told me.

Sorry to give you negative input on this...I know, as a mom, myself, that we want our kids to have fun, be a kid...ect/ but , in my opinion,,,the pain is not worth the ride.

Take Care,,,

I wouldn't risk it. Roller coasters are basically the only thing my NS restricted me from post-surgery. He said they were a definite no-no. In addition I know of a girl who disregarded the advice of her NS and ended up having symptoms reoccur so that further scares me off. I know there are people who ride things post-op and do fine with it but I can't take that chance. I'm finally able to lead a nearly normal life and as fun as roller coasters are it's just not worth it.

My granddaughter's NS also told us that after her post-op MRI (if everything is ok and the tiny syrinx she had is gone) there would be absolutely NO restrictions. She said even contact sports, such as football, are ok. She said that most of these kids have been doing these things before surgery when it was far more dangerous than after decompression and she sees no problems with them now.

I just emailed the NS as my 16 year old wants to celebrate a year post op at Six Flags. His response was although he didn’t understand why anyone would want to ride a coaster, it’s fine. She has absolutely NO restrictions. He actually said the most concerning thing was being in an auto accident BEFORE surgery. Anyway we are going to let her ride and see how she does. (The stinker recently admitted to me that she rode a mild coaster during vacation last summer at the shore when she was only 3 months post op and she was fine.) I told her she is the reason I drink so many margaritas lol!

I was told specifically no Roller Coaster or Amusement Park Rides or SCUBA Diving and to NEVER rotate my neck in circles.

I have just dove into the pool from the side and it felt like I was hitting concrete & had a headache for days. Most NL , NS & Osteopaths will tell a healthy person the dangers of amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. I have also had multiple closed concussions from falling post surgical and they are horrible. Then I got Post Concussion Syndrome which was terrifying. Lately High School contact sports has been all over the news with student concussion data. I played every sport and am a Mother, it's tough, but I would never allow my child to get hurt just to have a few minutes of fun. I am not judging anyone else. I have just been there and never want to experience those feelings again or even think about my daughter going through what I have. Again....not judging just sharing my experiences and data.

Please read the following links:

Roller Coaster Risks for Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Healthy Child and Adult:

Sports related Concussions in healthy non Chiarians: 19% per Season. A new study has suggested that sports-related concussions in children may lead to some measurable emotional and behavioral functioning problems in the months that follow the injury.

I’m 6 weeks post-surgery and my NS told me, in no uncertain terms, that I can never ride a roller coaster again, and that I should be sure to always ride in a vehicle with a head rest. I wouldn’t chance it for the world!

Ok here goes, I’m a bad bad momma! My son’s first NS told us no restrictions post op. his second told us no contact sports, no rides that would put a lot of force on his neck and a whole host of other things that he needed to do and not do. Ben was six years post op when we took a little trip to an amusement park, his dad and I rode the rides firs t to see if we thought they’d be ok then let Ben ride what we didn’t think would hurt him. He did fine! We spent three days T the park followed up with a water park and it was the happiest the kid had been in a long time! The coasters weren’t too crazy but wilder than the tea cups! Granted Ben was symptomatic post op so I couldn’t tell you for absolute truth that the rides had no impact but Ben didn’t complain and we saw no increase in symptoms.

To me , its not worth it

I met a Chiarian at our walk in September & she said if u are going to ride a roller coaster or any ride bring a good collar with u & put it on right before the rife starts.

Having whiplash myself I stopped going on rides years ago & I told my daughter that she may have to give up certain things. The NL told her she can do certain activities but she may have a headache or neck pain. Hoping this summer she tries other activities instead of the ones that will give her pain.

My n/s said no roller coasters after I was diagnosed & post -op. As a matter of fact it was a roller coaster type ride (Shuttle Experience @ Kennedy Space center) that brought on my symptoms in the first place. It means I can’t ride roller coasters with my sons like I did with my daughters. N/s told me post op it could bring my symptoms back. Hope this helps!

Carrie :slight_smile:

I have not had my surgery yet so it is hard to say. However, I love roller coasters as well and understand your sons feelings. There are big differences in roller coasters theses days. If you decide to let him, I would tell him to stick with the newer metal ones. The are usually smoother and don’t jerk you as much as wooden ones. We go to Kings Island in Cincinnati. The Beast has always been one of my favorites but I will never ride it again. However, if my doc okays it, I will consider Firehawk. It is very smooth.

I would not take the chance with my granddaughter. She had her chiari surgery almost 4 years ago, but I can tell at times , the duro patch still bothers her. If the patch ever comes loose it could be big trouble.


I was reading your post about roller coasters, and I have been told that roller coasters are dangerous for those of us with Chiari Malformations, too. Even after surgery, the jarring on the neck, on roller coasters, is too much, and too hard. I was told they are too questionable, (meaning, you never know which ones could be too dangerous), so better to be safe than sorry and not ride them. That came from 2 different neurosurgeons, plus....all that I've read online about chiari and roller coasters, I have determined that it is not worth the risk to ride them.

I know for kids, it is much more difficult to accept that, than for me - an adult. As an adult I can better understand and accept it. I would just try, the best you can, to explain to him "why" it can be too dangerous and keeping him safe is your first priority.

However, even as an adult, you can feel left out and defeated about what you can no longer do. I feel for him because there's lots (outside of rollercoasters) that I miss, living with a Chiari (no surgery yet). But I also have a large brain cyst and lots of neurological issues, and going to the theme parks is a bummer for me anymore (though I can deal and handle it better than a child). I can't do anything at theme parks, it seems, with my boys. I remember the last one I went to a few years back. While my now (ex-husband) would do everything with our boys...all the rides, and all the shows with laser lights (which I can't handle either), I would have to sit outside the ride or show and wait for them, feeling a bit left out etc. And I'm an adult, so I can imagine for a child, they really feel left out.

Good luck and God Bless!


I’m more concerned about the g force than the shaking. I think a shaky ride could cause muscle strain and pain but the g force could pull the tonsils back down. A kid died at Disney on a ride that didn’t even move…just exerted g force, he had an undiagnosed issue and the force was too much.

I would not let him its a chance you are taking my neurologists gave me a big list of things I can not do anymore. no jumping boat rides motorcycle rides just really basically every thing I like to do. I would not dare get on a roller coaster but I just had my surgery January of 2012..

I would like to add to this post, years before I was diagnosed with Chiarimalformation with syrengemelia, I rode roller coasters all the time, however, every single time afterwards or during the ride I became very dizzy, sick, nauseas, etc and would have to immediately go home and lie down. Usually the dizziness lasted several hours. After being diagnosed (at the age of 46), and having decompression surgery one week later, one of the first questions I asked was the "roller coaster" question, I was told that one in my condition and severity of chiari could easily get permanent damage in my brain should I ever ride a roller coaster again, it would be like "baby shaking syndrom" which is horrible enough as it gets. That's just what I was told, never to attempt them again, and I never should have. I lived through them, and rode nearly every roller coaster in US and Canada in my years, but I remember always paying the price afterwards not even knowing through the years it was because I had Chiarimalformation. I hope you get good answers and replys on this, I would hate for your son to miss out on of the greatest thrills in life as a roller coaster gives. God bless and lovingly, Antoinette

I was told by my neurologist, neurosurgeon, orthapedic doc that did my cervical disk fusion, to NOT ride roller coasters - ever - before or after surgery.

Out of compare to things "my" doctor has told me about things I shouldn't do....what are some of the other things everyone else's doctors have told them they "shouldn't" do with a Chiari. It would be good for others to see a list and be able to compare to their own list. Some of the things my doctor told me not to do are:

- No boat riding or jet ski riding

- No roller coasters, bumper cars, bumper boats, etc.

- No contact sports

- No heavy lifting, such as with weights or other objects. Only light weights.

- No hanging upside down; such as for kids....on monkey bars, and adults, on park rides, etc.

- No cervical traction treatments

- No intense massages at a massage parlor - only light touch massages.

There are other things; I'm sure. I got a pretty long list when I was in the hospital a few years back, but these are the ones that stuck out in my mind and stuck with me.

For my story of what I went through with my large brain cyst, then developing a Chiari Malformation and brain sagging due to doctors not listening and even refusing to treat me - you can read it in my memoir, "It's all in Your Head," available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Tate Publishing, and available wherever books are sold.