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From Oslo, Norway:

We are travelling to California in the fall to visit several amusement parks, and my brother uses an insulin pump. Is it safe to wear his insulin pump on extreme roller coasters? Does he need to disconnect it because of the rapid drops, inversions and great g-forces? Can he wear the pump on the airplane?


Yes, he can wear the insulin pump on the airplane. Do not let him disconnect when he goes through security. If the security person requests to look at it, ask them to do a visual inspection while it is on. It is his right to wear it.

Regarding amusement parks and roller coasters: Many of the new roller coasters do involve electromagnetic forces that may, indeed, have an effect on the internal calibration of the insulin pump. You would not be able to see a difference in the numbers on the pump, (i.e., an internal calibration problem might manifest itself as a unit of insulin no longer equaling a unit), so when you think you are giving a certain amount of insulin, you actually are giving more or less.

The roller coasters most suspect are those that have a very rapid start, (i.e., you go uphill very quickly) versus the old-style roller coasters where you inch uphill with that suspense-building clicking sound and generally don't have electromagnetic forces. Also, those tall-tower rides, in which you go straight up a couple hundred feet and then straight down, might be suspect as well.

When in doubt, have him take the pump off and give it to one of your party to hold. The person staffing the ride will not hold the pump (nor should you ask them to hold this $5, 000 medical device). However, most coaster rides offer a 'switching off' option, which means that your brother can go on (with a friend or another parent) while someone stands and holds the pump, and then that person can go on with your brother (he gets to go twice!) while the friend or parent gets off and holds the pump.

You also can call ahead, tell them of your concerns, and ask to speak with the head engineer of the park. That person will know specifically, so don't trust the responses from others. When in doubt, be safe and just take off the pump.


Original posting 6 Jun 2003
Posted to Other and Traveling


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:46
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