Diving is the number one cause of paralysis from recreational activities. Over 800 new cases are reported in the United States every year. Diving head first into a shallow pool of water can cause neck fracture and spinal cord damage. Twenty percent of all spinal cord injuries are diving related. More than 90 percent result in paralysis from the neck down.
The real trend is the use of alcohol by our young adults today. There's a direct link between alcohol use and the increase in diving accidents nationwide. It is estimated that alcohol is involved in almost half of all diving-related spinal cord injuries.
The typical patient is a young, athletic male less than 25 years old. Reckless behavior and misjudging the depth of water are common factors in many cases. Doctors are calling for greater education and awareness of this devastating but potentially preventable injury.