Look Before You Leap

by Dr. John Roberts V, MD 15. June 2014 13:00

It’s that season again. Pools are open, ponds and lakes are warming up; it’s time for a swim. But the age worn adage is more important than ever. Never, and I mean never dive into murky water. You must know how deep it is and what lurks below the surface. Neck injuries make up 2% of spine injuries in children, and the real tragedy is that the majority of these are avoidable. Children are particularly vulnerable to neck injuries following impacts to the head because their heads are proportionately larger than the rest of their bodies and their relatively undeveloped neck musculature cannot protect their spinal cord from a sudden bending force. Also, children have such ligamentous laxity in their necks that spinal cord injuries often occur without any apparent boney trauma to the neck. So when it says “NO DIVING’ in the shallow end of a pool, respect it. It is not written to make the lifeguard’s job easier; it is there so a life is not tragically altered. Also, that rope swing may seem inviting, but check it out first. It is a frequent refrain from the devastated quadriplegic, lying in spinal traction, ‘I didn’t know the water was only six inches deep’, or ‘I can’t believe there was a tree trunk just under the surface.’ Do yourself a favor, look before you leap!

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