Scuba Diving Study for Veterans with Paralysis

May 23, 2011
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There’s a new research study on scuba diving and people with disabilities. The pilot study will take place in the Cayman Islands; and will conduct trials on 10 veterans with paralysis. The goal is to measure the neurological, psychological and pulmonary effects of scuba diving. The research process will include testing, evaluation, and data gathering to scientifically measure the efficacy of scuba diving as an activity-based therapy that benefits people with disabilities.

The scuba pilot study for disabled veterans was started by medical professionals from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Various research professionals, such as brain mappers, neuro-psychiatrists and other specialists are taking part in the study.

“The researchers are looking at the psychological and neurological effects of scuba. I don’t know what the outcomes will be, but as far as the psychological [aspects are concerned], I know it is going to be successful. Any kind of sport, scuba or recreational thing is always going to have good effects — says former Navy SEAL Al Kovak, vice president of Paralysed Veterans of America.

The scuba diving study was inspired by Cody Unser. Cody became paralyzed at age 12 from the chest down due to a rare illness, called Transverse Myelitis. It is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level, or segment, of the spinal cord. Cody and her family started, Cody’s Great Scuba Adventures in 2002. Cody has also created a not-for-profit corporation aimed at raising research funds to fight paralysis and to build awareness of Transverse Myelitis.

The Department of Tourism, in association with the Cody Unser foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Red Sail Sports and St. Matthew’s University are involved in helping the team of spinal cord injury researchers, veterans, paralympic athletes and Cody Unser herself to learn more about the benefits of scuba diving.

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Author: Jenny Carlton