Diving causes many accidents in the summer months. / fotolia

Spanish neurologists warn of risks of diving into water

Between 80 and 90 per cent of spinal injuries are in patients aged between 15 and 25, and four out of five are male, according to Spain's Centre of Advanced Neurology


Spain's Centre of Advanced Neurology (CNA) has warned that more than five per cent of spinal injuries are caused by reckless diving into water during the summer months and that the consequences can have very serious effects on health and families.

Neurosurgeon Andrés Muñoz said this week that diving into water which is too shallow is one of the most common causes. "Diving from a great height, miscalculating the depth of the water or simply ignoring a ban on diving, can have very serious consequences. In the sea, the proximity of rocks and shallow water at low tide make the risk especially high, but people still do it" he explained.

Most victims aged between 15 and 25

Dr Muñoz also said that between 80 and 90 per cent of spinal injuries caused by diving are in patients aged between 15 and 25, and four out of five are male.

“The injury from a diving accident is normally serious because it affects the cervical vertebrae at the highest part of the spine. The neurological damage is often a lack of strength or sensitivity in all four limbs but in the worst cases it can be tetraplegia with respiratory insufficiency," he said.

Given the irreversible character of this type of injury, prevention is extremely important. The CNA stresses that anyone thinking of diving into a pool, river or sea should check the depth beforehand, and if the water is not clear and there is not much visibility, also make sure there are no rocks, trees or other objects they could hit. They also say people should never dive head-first from a great height because the impact of simply hitting the water can be enough to cause injury.

Finally, in case of an accident, if the victim has to be handled, it is crucial to immobilise their neck to prevent movement of the spine which could make neurological injuries worse. Anyone with this type of injury should only be moved by trained professionals and should never be taken to hospital in a private vehicle as this could also cause more damage.