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How does thermoregulation relate to adaptive diving?

Extremes in ambient temperature can trigger thermal regulation disorders in adaptive divers who have spinal cord injuries, whereas divers who have sustained a stroke or traumatic brain injuriy (TBI) may experience the disorder spontaneously or triggered by noxious stimuli. 

Some individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), brain stem strokes and spinal cord injuries (above the sixth thoracic vertebra, or T6, level) experience problems regulating their body’s temperature. This can result in hypothermia or hyperthermia.

It is important to remind such divers to stay hydrated and keep out of direct sunlight when the environment is hot. Conversely, adequate insulation and staying warm and dry is important when diving in cooler weather or waters.

Additionally you should assist the adaptive diver in monitoring signs of hypothermia while diving in cold water or for prolonged periods of time. Individuals with thermoregulation issues should know to advise their team so appropriate precautions including sun protection apparel, coolants and wetsuits can be planned.

 Also, be mindful that divers with mobility impairments, such as paraplegics and amputees, will often have problems regulating their body temperature due to a variety of factors. Their diminished musculature and circulation will most likely affect the capacity to maintain normal temperatures. Know your diver and plan accordingly.

Learn more in the book Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Instructor and Dive Buddy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.