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Forum educates doctors on diver decompression sickness danger

Date Posted: 2010-02-11

A noted medical doctor who specializes in diver’s decompression sickness warned “if divers dive three times in one day, and continue two or three days in a row, divers will get sick with decompression sickness” during a forum at Ishigaki City’s Civil Hall.

Doctor Masato Uehara, who works with the Prefectural Hospital in the Yaeyama District, was keynote speaker at the forum on ocean leisure. He says many divers don’t recognize decompression sickness, pointing out that between 1997 and 2009 he treated nearly 100 patients with decompression sickness at the hospital. The frightening part, he pointed out, was that roughly 80% of the patients were experienced divers or diving instructors.

“Divers believe in their computers for diving too much, or the manuals,” he says. He called for more caution and common sense, noting a 56-year-old tourist form mainland Japan who dived three times in a single day. When she tried diving on the fourth day, after her first dive her legs and hands became numb and she couldn’t walk. A bit later, as she walked again, she dived again. By that night, her hands and legs were again numb, so she visited the hospital where he had to treat her for decompression sickness.

Dr. Uehara says decompression sickness can only be treated with high oxygen treatment machines. He called the treatment “drastic measures for the sick” and encouraged divers to be more careful.

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