Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diving Injuries Increasing

Lynne and Julian Lamoureux have been through a nightmare.

The parents of three from Dwight, Ont., spent the last month in Toronto by their son’s hospital bedside.

Bradon Lamoureux, 23, was swimming with friends on July 21 in the Lake-of-Bays area when he dove through a Hula Hoop headfirst into about a metre of shallow water. Bradon’s chin hit first and he severed his spinal cord and damaged his vertebrae from C3 to T1, leaving him a quadriplegic.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” Lynne, 53, said. “He has a little bit of shoulder movement. We’re hoping to strengthen his diaphragm muscles so he can breathe on his own.”

Bradon is one of seven young people in their 20s and 30s who have been treated at St. Michael’s Hospital for diving-related spinal cord injuries since May.

Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon and director of St. Mike’s Injury Prevention Research Centre, said during the past decade there was only one diving-related spinal cord injury per year.

“For the nine years before this year we only had nine patients and for three years we had none. Now this summer we’ve had seven catastrophic spinal cord injuries, which have rendered young, healthy people quadriplegics and changed their lives drastically,” Cusimano said.

“It’s very tragic and alarming and our staff as well, have to deal with patients trying to get their lives back together again. Young people think they are invincible and it’s not going to happen to them,” Cusimano said.

Cusimano said the increase in diving-related spinal cord injuries could be related to the warm weather we’ve been enjoying, and unwise choices.

“Unfortunately, the vast majority of diving accidents are preventable. People need to know the risks and we need to raise awareness that this problem is happening,” Cusimano said.

“There’s a large number of people who underestimate the depth of water or are unfamiliar with the depth of water. People should jump in feet first or walk in and see that there’s no rocks or sharp objects and that the water is twice the height of a diver with a minimum of nine feet,” Cusimano said, adding alcohol and swimming also do not mix.


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