The effects of Scuba Diving On The Human Body (Video)
With the increased popularity of recreational scuba diving it is incumbent among EMS providers to become aware of scuba related injuries.
The most common causes of scuba related injuries are those related to physiological factors or conditions that result from operating in pressurized environments, ie the underwater environment.
Other factors affecting divers is the effect of the conductive properties of water that affect a divers body temperature. Water is about 20 times more conductive than air. Divers compensate for this by wearing wetsuits which provide a layer of insulation.
The effects of pressure and depth on air volume is pretty dramatic and can not be overlooked when considering physiological affects on divers. For example at just 33 feet the volume of a given amount of air is cut in half.
Read on for more specific details about the impact of scuba diving on the human body.
Ambient pressure decreases with altitude and increases with depth. While the falling pressures associated with altitude aren’t usually noticed until ascending many thousands of feet, the rise in pressure with immersion is dramatic. By convention, sea-level pressure is noted as one atmosphere absolute (ATA). The properties of gasses under pressure change with increasing depth. Of principal importance to the diver descending into the water is the reduced volume of gas, increased partial pressure, and increased solubility with rising ambient pressure. The pressure increases one full ATA with every 33 feet of depth in sea water (fsw) or approximately 10 meters of sea water (msw). (See Figure 1.) If a diver takes a 500 mL breath at the surface and then descends to 33 fsw, the same 500 mL tidal volume contains twice as many molecules of air because of the doubled pressure (2 ATA). If the diver held his breath while ascending back to the surface, the air in his lungs would double in volume as the pressure returns to 1 ATA and traumatic injury would occur.
Go to next page for a very informative video by Dr. Lance Davis about Triage for scuba diving related issues.
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