When Diving Turns Deadly: New Research Findings

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 6 2008 9:05 AM

Diving could be a lot more dangerous than you have ever imagined. Though it gives you a real good adrenaline rush, a new study has established that it also causes the maximum injury to the head, neck and face. Diving injures not only the untrained, the best of athletes aren’t spared either!

Conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, the study revealed that almost 111,000 diving-related injuries to persons under the age of 19 were treated in emergency departments from 1990 through 2006.

Constituting 58 percent of all injuries, lacerations and soft tissue injuries turned out to be the most common diagnoses.

The leading cause of the injury was collision with the diving board or platform, which happened when a diver attempted a flip, handstand or backward dive.

"There is a need for increased prevention efforts to lower the risks of diving-related injuries among children and adolescents. The recent growth of the sport of diving, coupled with the increasing complexity and difficulty of dives, has resulted in a greater potential for both competitive and recreational diving-related injuries," explained study co-author Dr. Lara McKenzie, principal investigator in CIRP at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"Based on our findings, the largest age group of injured divers was 10- to 14 year-olds. Although this group made up the largest number of injured divers, 10- to 19-years-olds were more at risk for an injury to the extremities. Boys were two times more likely to experience a head or neck injury or a fracture," said study co-author Gary Smith.

The researchers also recommended strategies for preventing diving-related injuries, which include educating divers about jumping into shallow water from the pool edge, placing visible depth indicators around the pool.

They also suggested that soft bottom pools be constructed to prevent such injuries.

The researchers said that obstacles from lakes, rivers, and oceans should also be removed.

Also, the presence of a lifeguard or trainer, as well as teaching proper diving techniques could reduce the overall number of diving-related injuries.

"Parents, pediatricians, coaches, lifeguards and trainers need to be aware of the types of injuries seen during recreational and competitive diving, as well as the risk factors," said McKenzie, also an assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

The study is published in the latest issue of Pediatrics.