Speed bumps: more than just a speed-control method

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Speed bumps aren't just designed to slow drivers down, you know – they are used to diagnose acute appendicitis.

Not really, of course, but British scientists have found that if a motorist feels discomfort as they drive over speed bumps, it might suggest they are suffering from an inflammation of the appendix.

The team behind the remarkable discovery have been recognised in this year's Ig Nobel awards – a parody of the Nobel prizes – due to be announced next month.

In fact, the speed bump test picked up 97% of people with the condition, although the researchers acknowledged that it was not so helpful in avoiding "false positive" identification of those who were free of the complaint.

"Presence of pain while travelling over speed bumps was associated with an increased likelihood of acute appendicitis," the researchers wrote in the British Medical Journal.

Road Sign Bumps

"As a diagnostic variable, it compared favourably with other features commonly used in clinical assessment."

It's not clear whether or the speed bump test will become a recognised way of testing for acute appendicitis, but the concluding words from the team behind the research suggest it is a real possibility: "Speed bumps may have a useful alternative benefit in the diagnosis of acute appendicitis," the report read.

However, given that other Ig Nobel-winning studies included fitting chickens with prosthetic "dinosaur tails" and discovering the most painful bee sting points on the body, it's fair to say that the speed bump test might not see the light of day.

Road Bump

If you let out a yelp of pain the next time you travel over a speed bump, though, it might be worth booking an appointment with the doctor.

Does driving over #speedbumps cause you discomfort? It might be worth booking an appointment to see your doctor.

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