Diving Accidents are a Neurological Emergency
Summertime pool parties and days at the beach are great venues for a good time, but the threat of injury looms specifically diving accidents that cause head or spine injuries. Noticing the depth of the pool or body of water and keeping safety in mind can help ensure a good time, but knowing what to do if an injury occurs also is vitally important.
Head injuries or fractures of the cervical spinethe part of the spine closest to the skull, including spinal cord injuriesare the most commonly seen after a diving accident, says John Sarzier, M.D., neurosurgeon. Dr. Sarzier says signs and symptoms to be aware of include:
- Immediate onset of pain in the neck
- Loss of function or sensation in the arms, legs or isolated in the hands
- Electrical shocks in the extremities when person is at rest or when he or she moves his or her neck
It is important that the injured person is seen ASAP by medical professionals to decrease the risk of further damage, Dr. Sarzier says. Call 911 and do not move the injured personkeep him or her still and stabilize the head and neck until emergency personnel arrives.
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Treatment options can range from steroid therapy and observation to physical therapy or immediate surgery to decompress the spinal cord or stabilize the fracture, Dr. Sarzier says. Every situation and injury is different for treatment and with prognosiswhich depends on the presence of bony spine instability, accompanying disk disease and the remaining function when the patient arrives to the health care facility.
Dr. Sarzier says prompt treatment is crucial. The sooner the patient is seen and treated, the better the outcome.
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John Sarzier, M.D.
Southwest Florida Neurosurgical Associates
632 Del Prado Boulevard North
Cape Coral, FL 33909