Medical Aspects of Diving

Course Description

Initial instruction on basic anatomy and physiology of the body related to diving, particularly the systems affected by hyperbaric or hydrostatic pressure. Learn to recognize, prevent, and provide care for the following diving maladies: decompression sickness, near drowning, squeezes and barotraumas, hypothermia, hyperthermia, hypoxia, anoxia, dyspnea, CO2 toxicity, CO poisoning, oxygen toxicity, nitrogen narcosis; and over inflation conditions of: pneumothorax, emphysema (subcutaneous and mediastinal), and arterial gas embolism.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe and explain the normal function of the following human systems affected by diving and hyperbaric exposures: Skin, Respiratory, Cardiovascular and Lymphatic, Nervous, Blood, and Sensory (Ears), and musculoskeletal.
  • Explain the physiological problems associated with breathing gases: asphyxia, hypoxia/anoxia, hypercapnia, hyperventilation, shallow-water blackout, carbon monoxide poisoning, nitrogen narcosis and oxygen toxicity (CNS and Pulmonary).
  • Explain the mechanical effects of pressure on the human body and the problems associated with barotrauma or squeeze: ears, sinuses, face, body, eyes, dental, and lung.
  • Describe the mechanism of injury, symptoms, treatment, and methods of prevention of the various pulmonary over-inflation syndromes (Arterial Gas Embolism, Pneumothorax, Mediastinal Emphysema, and Subcutaneous Emphysema).
  • Explain the bubble theory which explains how decompression sickness develops in relationship to ongassing, off gassing, saturation of tissues, and supersaturation.
  • Describe the mechanism of injury, symptoms, treatment, and methods of prevention of Decompression Sickness (DCS) (Type I and Type II).
  • Explain the concept of recompression to treat decompression sickness and how hyperbaric oxygen is a better treatment than recompression alone.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use a given set of Treatment Flow Tables used for selecting treatment tables and be able to select the proper treatment table based on a given scenario and select a USN standard treatment table.
  • Demonstrate the ability to complete a treatment chart on a hyperbaric recompression treatment involving decompression sickness, arterial gas embolism, or reoccurrences.
  • List the symptoms of CNS oxygen toxicity and describe the proper rules for resolving CNS oxygen toxicity symptoms during a hyperbaric recompression treatment or surface decompression procedure.
  • Explain how to use the air treatment tables 1A, 2A, 3, or 4 if oxygen is not available on a chamber.
  • Explain how to manage and handle a diver if decompression sickness occurs during ascent, at a water stop, during surface interval, or during surface decompression.
  • Explain how to properly transport a diver stricken with decompression illness to a chamber if a chamber is not on site.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct a quick neurological examination to determine if a diver has any serious symptoms of decompression illness.


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