Scuba Diving may aid spinal cord recovery

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As someone who has enjoyed scuba diving in the past and truly loved the feeling of weightlessness, I was interested to read that researchers in Baltimore are investigating how scuba diving affects a person's mental and physical health.

The doctors -- Dr. Adam Kaplin, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology and chief psychiatric consultant at the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis Centers and Dr. Daniel Becker, a board-certified neurologist and the head of paediatric restoration therapy at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute -- recently went underwater in the Grand Caymans with 10 paraplegic veterans and 10 control subjects to study what effect, if any, scuba diving could have on the mind and body of those with spinal cord injuries.
 
For the study, the doctors had to learn how to dive. They went the maximum depth of 60 feet with the veterans on multiple dives a day. The doctors said the depth of the dive is the key.  "When you go down there, many of the gases within your blood start changing. So, you get an increase of oxygen into your tissues," Becker said. 
 
"That's happening in a weightless environment. You're buoyant down there underwater in an environment where you're sort of mastering something that you thought you'd never have a chance to master," Kaplin said.

The ultimate question is whether it can actually stimulate regeneration of tissue.  Kaplin and Becker plan to reveal their findings at a conference in September. They will continue to investigate whether scuba diving could be used to treat a variety of neurological illnesses.


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