Over the many years as an Emergency Physician working with trauma and teaching, many patients have presented by ambulance and private car with water diving injuries.
This summer there have been injuries related to diving into the lakes and rivers.
Years ago, not sure if it still is going, was a program I believe by the Neurosurgeons College called “Feet First.” This program tried to educate parents and kids on the value of not diving into water in the lakes and rivers.
A few years ago, going up the Spokane River, I heard a boat literally rip its outdrive off by a “deadhead.” Imagine if that boat would have let the occupants dive in that area “to cool off” only hitting the submerged log.
When a person dives into the water, all the force is decelerated, into the skull onto the brain. But more importantly, the cervical spine “the neck” gets flexed or extended quite rapidly and dramatically. Then as the flexion or extension is exaggerated, the force (weight) of the body from the height of the dive is literally driven into the spinal vertebrae. This force is so great it can fracture (break) the neck, rupture the ligaments that hold them in place, and dramatically injure – even push bone fragments into the spinal cord itself. Thus, paraplegia or quadriplegia ensues….never to walk or move again!
Facial injuries of jaw fractures, nasal fractures, lost teeth, eye injures and even skull fractures, as well as lacerations of all of the above-do occur. Head injury is commom.
Risk of drowning is high when these injuries occur. Risk of additional injury is high as “helpers” try to get the victim out of the water…in a “layperson” way…without EMS techniques or even lifeguard techniques.
These are just plain sad cases. So preventable. So life options limiting. So challenging for the victim, their family, their friends, and their doctors. Can you imagine how hard it is to hear, “Your child is paralyzed.”
So castMD says:
NO DIVING IN RIVERS OR LAKES
FEET FIRST IS THE RULE!