Handicapped Diving - Objectives, Training & Planning
Objective, training and planning
On closer inspection, basically all humans are unfit to stay underwater for even an hour. We have no gills, no webbed feet and are encumbered by air-filled cavities. Our cardiovascular system is only minimally adapted and we lack sensory perception developed for the underwater world. Our swimming style does not stand comparison with even the clumsiest fish.
Only special equipment can compensate for "natural disabilities" underwater in healthy people who are capable of diving. As long as a condition that is limiting on land, can be compensated for underwater by equipment adjustments, mitigated dive profiles, or special care, it represents only a modified degree on the scale of "natural disabilities" underwater.
Diving for higher goals By integrating it into a rehabilitative or preventive process, diving loses its end in itself and becomes subservient to higher goals. There are now a wide variety of programs and organizations that combine diving with therapeutic objectives. Except in the field of physical disabilities, diving is used as therapy, for crime prevention, resocialization of chronically ill people, experiential education for the deaf and blind, to name just a few examples.
Promote different abilities with the joy of diving The objective in the area of physical disabilities varies depending on the underlying disease or handicap. By outsmarting gravity, motor and sensory skills are enhanced. Movement in an unfamiliar habitat increases awareness and trains cognitive skills that compensate for the disability. By providing a sense of achievement, self-confidence is created, which contributes to the acquisition of balanced social skills, resocialization and integration.
Increasing the readiness to perform By recognizing, processing and reproducing learning content, the willingness to perform increases. In addition, physical activity contributes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Ultimately, however, the focus should be on conveying pleasure and the subject should have an authentic desire to dive.
Diving fitness - "What can the test person do under water". The diving fitness examination of a physically handicapped person is, according to experience, more complex than that of a healthy diver. It should be performed by a trained diving physician due to the special medical and sport-specific issues involved. The necessary additional examinations and the interdisciplinary clarification require not only a significantly increased time effort, but also an increased commitment from all involved (e.g..: Physiotherapist, orthopedic technician, manufacturing companies of equipment for tailoring etc.). Long-term care is often desirable. Diving medical support requires a continuous dialogue between instructors and caregivers and sometimes even continues into the water, as the subject's motor skills often improve significantly under suspended gravity conditions. So the question is not only "what can the subject do on land?" but also "what can he do underwater?" and "is the cart measure sufficient for movements against water resistance?"
Special buddy system What degree of disability is actually still suitable for scuba diving? One extreme is the opinion that almost everyone can scuba dive to a certain degree, even if only in the shallow water area of the pool. The other extreme considers only those who can stay afloat even in the stormiest of seas to be fit for scuba diving. As always, the truth lies in the middle. Diving fitness testing is always a case-by-case decision. First of all, the underlying illness or disability and its necessary medication must be compatible with diving. If this is given, the same rules apply as for healthy persons.
Further aspects consist in the evaluation of the probability with which a disease could worsen under diving physiological conditions, the drowning risk, as well as possible changes in decompression behavior. Taking into account the safety aspect for the diver himself, but also for his buddy, it is necessary to determine the necessary care under water with classification in a special buddy system. [There are four levels from L for "As healthy recreational diver" and autonomous up to H-3 with diving depth limitation of 3m, in exceptional cases 5m and a necessary third assistant].