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Scuba’s Therapeutic Potential

(NewsUSA) – When scuba diving instructor Jim Elliott first started teaching individuals with physical disabilities in 1997, he intuitively realized that diving also had therapeutic benefits for individuals with autism, down syndrome and other cognitive and learning impairments.

Twenty-six years later, team members of Diveheart, the non-profit founded by Elliott in 2001, were invited to address physicians from the Mayo Clinic on the subject of adaptive scuba and scuba therapy. At a conference in Cozumel, Mexico, Elliott and Diveheart Executive Director Tinamarie Hernandez spoke to physicians from a range of medical specialties including hyperbaric medicine, neurology, and sports medicine. The Mayo group was so impressed with the Diveheart presentation that they invited Elliott and Hernandez to return for a 2024 conference.  

Even better, physicians from the Mayo Clinic proposed a collaboration between their researchers and the Diveheart team on scuba therapy research using enriched air and one hundred percent oxygen at safe depths while measuring the benefits different gas mixtures and hyperbaric pressure.

In the Mayo presentation, the Diveheart team also suggested measuring the benefits of various medication levels in tandem with different levels of oxygen underwater in a zero-gravity environment.

“If we know what a certain medication does at the surface or one atmosphere of pressure, researchers can begin looking into what the same medication will do under the influence of increased pressure and various percentages of oxygen enriched air,” Elliott explains.

Looking ahead, Diveheart hopes to facilitate similar research projects at a unique deep warm water therapy pool and aquatic facility that they seek to build in the greater Chicago area. Diveheart has secured two patents on pool’s design.

Diveheart aims to leverage decades of scuba therapy research with the practical adaptive scuba experiences it has helped develop since 2001 and partner with university medical centers to create a facility that will draw researchers, scientists, therapists, physicians, and others from around the world. Visit diveheart.org for more information and to follow their progress.

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