The Mayfield Clinic and Spine Institute urges parents, camp counselors and coaches to remind young people that diving into shallow water can result in devastating and irreversible injuries to the spinal cord.
A life-changing injury can be sustained when the spinal cord, a bundle of nerves that runs down the back from the base of the brain to the waist, is damaged or severed by trauma. This can occur during a dive into shallow water if the diver’s head strikes the bottom, causing the vertebrae that encircle the spinal cord to collapse. If the spinal cord is damaged and it is unable to transmit nerve impulses to and from the brain, paralysis occurs. Safe means 10- to 12-feet deep
Water that is safe for diving is deeper than most people realize. Please remember these safety guidelines:
- Dive only into water that is 10- to 12-feet deep.
- Always enter the water feet first to determine depth.
- Never dive into an above-ground swimming pool.
- Remember that water levels in lakes and rivers can change over time. Water levels also can be impacted by unseen debris along the bottom.
A basic knowledge of physics helps us realize that safe water levels will vary among individuals. What might appear safe for an 80-pound child might be completely unsafe for an 180-pound teenager. And what might be safe for a highly trained competitive swimmer might be completely unsafe for an average swimmer.
The Mayfield Clinic is recognized as one of the nation’s leading physician organizations for clinical care, education, and research of the spine and brain. Supported by 20 neurosurgeons, three neurointensivists, an interventional radiologist, and a pain specialist, the Clinic treats 20,000 patients from 35 states and 13 countries in a typical year. Mayfield’s physicians have pioneered surgical procedures and instrumentation that have revolutionized the medical art of neurosurgery for brain tumors and neurovascular diseases and disorders.