Diving & The Risk of Spinal Cord Injury
What is more enjoyable than diving into a cold swimming pool on a hot summer day? What seems like a simple and fun activity can actually lead to a traumatic injury. According to ABC News approximately 6,500 children a year are admitted to an emergency room for diving related injuries.
Lara McKenzie, an assistant professor at Ohio State University Medical School, was interviewed by ABC News and said, "More than 80 percent of the dive injuries occurred from a dive height of less than or equal to one meter [approximately 3 feet]. So, that is not the highest dive, this is usually from the lowest order or the edge of the pool."
In a study published in the August 2008 issue of Pediatrics, McKenzie's team used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a part of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly 70 percent of the injuries studied were from headfirst dives while only 30 percent were from jumps, flips, or handstands.
The hazard in diving comes from diving into shallow water. Almost 90% of diving-related accidents occur in water that is less than six feet deep. Most people underestimate the depth and entering the water headfirst can be catastrophic upon impact. Even with water deep enough to prevent divers from hitting the bottom, the surface tension of the water can cause spinal injury if the diver hits the water improperly.
We recommend the following to prevent diving accidents:
- Place your hands in front of you when diving so that if you do hit bottom, your hands and arms take the brunt of the contact.
- Always check the depth of the water before diving and look for obstacles. Do not dive in water that is less than 12 feet deep.
- If you are unsure of the water depth, enter slowly, feet first.
- Never dive into murky water
- Don’t forget that lakes and ponds tend to have submerged obstacles such as rocks, sandbanks, and tree branches that are not visible from above the surface
- Don’t drink and dive! If you’re drinking alcohol, it’s best not to dive into the water.
- If you believe you have been seriously injured while diving, please call 911 immediately. If you experience pain or soreness, but don’t feel you need emergency help, please call our office and make an appointment to see Dr. Fayaz.