A head-first trip down a water slide might sound exciting but it can cause serious spinal cord injuries, Turkish researchers warn.
In a report in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Doga Gurkanlar, of Baskent University in Ankara, and his team described neck injuries suffered by four men who were injured on water slides.
Each man had taken a head-first dive down the slide, which in a normal water park consists of a long trough or tube with flowing water that ends in a relatively shallow splashdown pool.
They were hurt when their necks were suddenly bent forward on impact with the pool. Injuries included broken Vertebrae and slipped discs in the neck and damage to surrounding nerves.
“It would be wise,” Gurkanlar said, “for parks to make the risk of paralyzing injury clear to patrons.”
One man treated by the researchers was unable to move his arms after the injury, while another lost movement in all of his limbs. All the men suffered some loss of sensation and movement in the upper limbs, and all required surgery.
Diving into too-shallow water is the most common cause of spinal cord injury reported in medical literature, according to the researchers.
But, they added, spinal injuries of the neck are the most common injuries seen at water parks and most of the injuries are irreversible. More 90 per cent result in Quadriplegia, Gurkanlar’s team said.
They suggested water parks put up more signs warning about the dangers of diving head first on water slides.