A heads-up on headfirst dives

July 15, 2009

MADISON, Wis. – How low will you go? You'd better know the answer if you're diving headfirst into water. Not knowing the depth of the lake, river or even backyard pool can lead to disaster in an instant – the kind of disaster that changes lives forever.

Dr. Greg Rebella, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, saw this for himself several years before he started his medical career when a diving injury left his close friend a quadriplegic at age 19.

"The real tragedy is the personal loss of the ability to function independently," he said. "Spinal cord injuries from diving accidents can be devastating on many levels and nearly 100 percent avoidable by exercising good judgment."

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Database, most diving injuries involve males in their twenties. Other key statistics show:

• Most diving injuries occur in private residential pools.
• Three-fourths of the individuals said they were not familiar with the depth of the water before diving.
• Seventy percent of the injuries happened after a headfirst dive and 94 percent occurred when there was no lifeguard or supervision available.
Rebella said people should know the depth of the water first, and to be safe, jump in feet first.

"You are asking for trouble if you dive headfirst into any body of water where you don't know the depth," he said. "When you jump in feet first, you have the ability to decrease acceleration by landing on your legs. When you dive headfirst, everything is going down on the top of the head or flexing the neck."

Rebella said high schools have joined in the effort to reduce head injuries from dives by making it illegal for competitive swimmers to jump into water less than three and a half feet during all swimming and diving meets.

"This is pretty wide-reaching when you consider the number of high school kids involved in swimming," he says.

Lynne Sears, trauma program coordinator at the University of Wisconsin Hospital, said alcohol provides an added danger.

"Consumption of alcohol takes away your ability to think clearly," she says. "If you don't know the area well, you may hit your head on a big boulder, lose consciousness and drown."

Rebella said it's important for parents to educate young children about water safety, and see to it the area has adequate supervision.

"Parents can help prevent serious injuries by teaching their kids how to play safely in the water and do the right thing," he said. "It's also the parents' responsibility to know the depth of the pool, instruct their children not to dive headfirst, and find out if someone will be there to watch over their children. They have to reinforce the need for water safety."

Other injuries caused by ill-advised headfirst dives into shallow waters include serious lacerations, bruises and broken teeth.

Pay tribute to loved ones touched by breast cancer throughout October

July 15, 2009

‘Ride to Empower’ during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Are you ready for a challenge? Join Breast Cancer Network of Strength’s newest event, the Ride to Empower®, and test your endurance while you pay tribute to loved ones touched by breast cancer. The Ride is a destination bike ride in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, with fully-supported route lengths ranging from 100-miles to less than 32 miles.

Depending on the fundraising package you choose, travel, food, bike transport and lodging expenses for the event may be covered. Network of Strength will provide you with cycling guidance and fundraising support.

For more information or to register, visit www.networkofstrength.org/ride or call 877-963-7223 x2730.

Breast Cancer Network of Strength® provides immediate emotional relief to anyone affected by breast cancer through the YourShoes™ 24/7 breast cancer support center, which includes the country’s only toll-free breast cancer hotline staffed exclusively by breast cancer survivors.

Breast Cancer Network of Strength raises money to fund YourShoes, several outreach programs, breast health awareness workshops, wigs and prostheses banks for women with limited resources, and advocacy on breast cancer related policies.

Peer counselors can be contacted at 1-800-221-2141, with interpreters available in more than150 languages.