If you are a diver, what you learned about topics such as decompression sickness and narcosis in your scuba diving classes is unlikely to have been as complete as you thought. Most of it will have been over-simplified and some of it will just have been plain wrong, as diver training agency texts have not kept pace with the science.
Despite 170 years of research, the fundamental nature of decompression sickness, decompression stress and narcosis remains unknown. Great advances have been made to make diving safer, but there are still glaring gaps in our knowledge.
Scuba Physiological provides us with a good summary of what we know, a glimpse of where current science is taking us and some good tips to make us all safer divers now.
1. Pre-dive hydration, exposure to heat, whole body vibration and oxygen breathing may reduce your risk of DCS.
2. Post-dive, our bodies have most bubbles running around them 30 to 40 minutes AFTER we have surfaced.
3. The effects of nitrogen narcosis continue for a period of time AFTER a dive.
4. All dive computers have a known DCS risk rate.
5. Exercise during the period up to 120 minutes after surfacing may increase your risk of DCS.
6. Never use a weightlifter's breath-hold and release technique when pulling yourself into the boat post-dive.
7. A little dark chocolate before a dive may be a good thing for you.
The chapters in Scuba Physiological were originally written by scientists in the field of decompression research as part of a three-year project called PHYPODE (Physiology of Decompression). Simon Pridmore is not an expert on diving medicine but, when he came across the material, he knew that many people in scuba diving beyond the scientific community would be interested in it. So, he contacted the original authors and proposed an abridged, edited, simplified and re-formatted e-book, which would make the information more accessible to the general diving population. They thought it was a great idea and Scuba Physiological is the result.
"This book makes it easy to understand the latest discoveries in diving research and our current understanding of what happens to our bodies when we dive." JP Imbert: Decompression designer and technical diving pioneer
"There are some lovely thought-provoking ideas and questioning of current dogma. This book is well worth the read. Some of the early chapters on decompression models and the blood vessels got my brain working hard." Dr Ian Sibley-Calder, HSE Approved Medical Examiner of Divers, Occupational Health Physician
"If you ask a lay person on the street what causes DCS they will likely tell you, "I don't know, I think it has something to do with bubbles". If you ask a dive instructor they might discuss things like shaking a soda bottle. And, if you ask a physician, you may get an account referring to things like leukocyte adhesion, the coagulation of components inside a vein and the endothelium lining. Finally, you find one of the top people in the world who do hyperbaric research on divers, ask them the same question and they will say, "I don't know, I think it has something to do with bubbles. The bottom line is that we don't necessarily know what causes DCS. This book is an excellent discussion of the issues. It is an enjoyable, simplified read of a complex subject and easy for a non-scientist to comprehend. I would consider this an essential text for every diver's shelf." Joseph Dituri PhD (c), CDR, US Navy Saturation Diving Officer (ret)