This summer, you’re probably planning on having fun at the pool, lake or local watering hole. But doctors who work with spinal cord injuries are bracing themselves for an increase in patients who have been hurt while diving.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistic Center, diving accidents are the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injuries in men. And they’re mostly preventable.
Teenagers are at risk
Teenage boys tend to engage in risky behavior — that’s a known fact. Every year, there are reports of teenagers being injured or hurt by diving in shallow water or hitting the side of a pool or rock face.
But many teens don’t see their behavior as risky. That was the case with Andy Wu, a Sacramento teenager who injured his spinal cord after misjudging the depth of a local lake. Though he’s been able to return to school for his senior year and enjoy prom and other activities, he’s having to adjust to a whole new life.
Alcohol and drugs also increase the risk of injury while diving. Dr. Charles Tater, a Toronto neurosurgeon, says that they’re the biggest reason for diving-related injuries. Just as alcohol and drugs can affect your judgement when you’re driving, they can cause you to make bad decisions at the pool too. You’re less likely to think before diving or pushing a friend into the pool.
How to dive safely
With the right information, diving accidents can be prevented. Fortunately, there are lots of resources out there, from videos to printable guides, that show how to dive safely.
The Shepherd Center in Atlanta is one of the most highly regarded rehabilitation hospitals in the country. Their resources on spinal cord injury prevention include videos from patients and their loved ones, as well as tips on how to prevent diving accidents.
Parachute, an organization aimed at preventing spinal cord injuries, has put together videos and guides that teach kids about the perils of dangerous diving. They combine real-life stories and expert advice to show why diving can be so dangerous and the impact that carelessness can have on your spinal cord.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has some additional tips, particularly about diving in the ocean and lakes. One important note that they make is that you shouldn’t dive into the ocean, as waves can cause the sandbar to shift.
Would you like to share some tips on how to prevent diving injuries with AHM Exposed readers? Please drop them in the comments below!
AHM Exposed is the blog for At Home Medical, which specializes in selling continence care and other medical supplies for those with disabilities.