Diving accidents can cause lifelong injuries

Published: July 5, 2006  |  Source: timesunion.com
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Diving accidents can cause lifelong injuries

Members of our organization know all too well the dangers of diving into backyard pools or shallow water. Diving accidents can lead to permanent paralysis from the neck down. These injuries usually happen to individuals younger than 45.

The National Institutes of Health describes spinal cord injury paralysis as one of the most devastating injuries known to humans.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that 800 Americans are permanently paralyzed annually as a result of diving accidents. Half of these spinal cord injuries result in Quadriplegia. Diving is the single largest cause of sports-related spinal cord injuries.

University of Alabama researchers report that the majority of swimming pool injuries occur in shallow water, no more than 4 feet deep. Diving in shallow water is riskier than most people think.

They tend to underestimate the velocity and distance the human body travels through water. They also mistakenly think that their arms, extended out in front of them, will protect their head.

However, their arms often slide apart on the slippery bottom and their head crashes unprotected into the bottom. Even an experienced diver can be seriously injured by diving improperly.

There is also the occasional spinal cord injury resulting from a “run and plunge,” i.e., running from the beach into open water and plunging in head first.

At present there is no cure for spinal cord injury paralysis. The goal of the Spinal Cord Society will continue to be the funding of cure-oriented research projects.

We encourage parents to teach their children and young friends not to dive into backyard pools, and the resulting dangers of such activity. Adults should project positive examples by also not diving.

Water slides should be used feet first into the water. Have fun, enjoy your pool, but please, no diving.

GARRY WOOD
Chapter President
Spinal Cord Society
Albany