Diving headfirst into shallow water is tantamount to causing paralysis. Statistics show that every year such jumps end in disability for one in every 400 people. Roughly half of diving injuries to the spine end in damage to the spinal cord. Injuries to the spinal cord occur most often in people between 15 and 35 years of age, despite numerous educational campaigns.
The consequences of a spinal cord injury depend on the site of the injury. It is influenced by the height from which the jump is made, body weight, and the depth of the reservoir. The closer the injury is to the head, the worse it can get. Conversely, if there is an injury below the chest, only the legs may be paralyzed. With any luck, during an unfortunate jump, only the core will shake, which results in paralysis lasting several seconds.
Jumping into the water can also injure the spine without damaging the spinal cord. The spine consists of a column of bones called vertebrae. The spinal cord is a long, fragile structure contained in the spinal canal that runs through the center of the spine, and is protected by the vertebrae. The aftermath of spine damage is slightly milder than spinal injuries, although still very severe. The patient experiences uncomfortable sensations but maintains the ability to move their limbs. Well-provided first aid is extremely important in this case, otherwise a broken spine may eventually damage the spinal cord. The most serious spinal cord injuries are to the upper parts of the neck. If the phrenic nerve is paralyzed, it causes the patient to suffocate. Their survival depends on a quick rescue operation with intubation.
Other unfortunate effects of a jump-gone-wrong can be paraplegia and tetraplegia.
- Paraplegia causes paresis of the lower limbs, while maintaining the efficiency of the upper limbs. Disturbance in urination is a common characteristic. The patient must work hard to regain fitness, although it rarely returns to the level before the accident.
- Tetraplegia occurs when the spine is damaged at high levels of the cervical spine. The patient cannot eat on his own and has problems with swallowing.
Returning to normal life after an accident is difficult and sometimes impossible. A broken spine causes significant pain in the area around it. To relieve the discomfort, patients must wear a supportive corset for several months to a year. It is often necessary to stiffen the spine surgically, and even insert an implant. Rehabilitation comes after, the aim of which is to minimize the effects of an injury and to prevent degenerative changes. Nevertheless, such a condition is prone to welcome further injuries due to the imbalance of the spine and the distribution of overload of other shafts and discs.