Dr. Charles L. Rosen, Neurosurgeon of Morgantown, WV, explains pool-diving safety.
Playing in summertime, obviously, something that all of us enjoy or most of us enjoy is the pool and the thing that I’m super concerned about that I really focus on is the catastrophic spinal cord injuries we see–and this typically happens from one or two things. Either somebody is jumping headfirst into something like the lake and they strike a rock thinking that the water’s deeper than it is and there’s a rock or some other underwater obstruction, maybe a tree that fell into the water recently and lodged there that wasn’t there last month, and you strike your head and a tremendous amount of force gets applied to the cervical spine. The spine can fracture and this can result in spinal cord injury that can result in permanent weakness of the legs or even permanent weakness of the arms and legs, or even death under some circumstances.
The phrase “feet first, first time” is often used, meaning that before you jump in the water, go in with your feet first so that you know what you’re going into. That “feet first, first time” can be very helpful. However, there’s another circumstance that you need to be aware of, and this is in particular with stronger individuals, maybe big adolescent boys, which is the strength of their legs. In this scenario what happens is somebody jumping off a diving board, for instance, is able to jump with enough force that when they jump, instead of going down into the deep part of the pool, when they jump, they go into the upslope. If the deep part is here, instead of going like this, they go like this and so their head can hit the upslope of the pool even if the upslope is some distance away. Powerful athletes, a springy diving board, and you can get a body out quite a distance, so even in a pool that quote has a deep end could potentially again be dangerous to somebody diving in the pool, but “feet first, first time” and being aware of this problem of the upslope on a pool–two important things to remember to protect our necks.
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