We hope that you come to this blog to learn about new ways that you and your family can avoid spinal cord injuries. With summer here, there is a danger that is often overlooked: spinal cord injuries caused by diving into shallow water.
The University of Michigan is warning swimmers and divers to beware of the paralyzing hazards associated with diving into an unfamiliar body of water. Diving can be fun fitness in the warmer months, but only when it is done safely.
Spinal cord injuries caused by diving accidents happen each summer.
Every year there are close to 6,000 Americans under the age of 14 who must receive spinal cord injury treatments because of a diving injury. Severe spinal cord injuries and paralysis are the result of 20 percent of these accidents, according to Business Week.
Experts recommend that when you are diving into unfamiliar water, jump feet first. If the water is much more shallow than expected, you could hit your head or neck. Many people become paraplegic or quadriplegic from these types of accidents, and several others have died as a result of their injuries.
“Our neurosurgery team here at [University of Michigan] knows how heartbreaking spinal cord injuries can be,” said the chair of the department of neurosurgery and chief of pediatric neurosurgery. “We can provide these patients with top-notch, state-of-the-art care, but we’d much rather they are not hurt to begin with. We can’t put the spinal cord back together. So the best thing we can do is prevent these injuries.”
The team who released the study also highlights the fact that you don’t need to hit the bottom of a pool of water to suffer a spinal cord injury. The surface tension on top of the water is enough to act as a solid plane, causing similar injuries.
Ensuring their message gets out to the public, the neurosurgery department has a campaign of public service announcements and clips that will play in Michigan movie theaters throughout the summer. One video features a 32-year-old man, who lives with paralysis due to a previous diving accident.
“Just think if you could never get out of a seat, think if you woke up in the morning and couldn’t get yourself out of bed,” the man says on tape. “You really need to think about your actions because your life can change in a split-second. It kind of opens up your eyes and you understand that life is fragile. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you. It could happen to anyone.”
We couldn’t agree more. Make sure that you know what type of water — natural or artificial — that you and your kids are jumping into for the next few months. Show them that if it is too shallow or the depth is unclear, always go in slowly, feet first, to avoid damage to their spinal cords.
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