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Undersea Hyperb Med. 2002 Summer;29(2):74-85.

Diving methods and decompression sickness incidence of Miskito Indian underwater harvesters.

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  • 1Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Diving conditions, dive profiles, and symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS) in a group of Miskito Indian underwater seafood harvesters are described. Dive profiles for 5 divers were recorded with dive computers, and DCS symptoms were assessed by neurological examination and interview. Divers averaged 10 dives a day over a 7-day period with a mean depth of 67 +/- 7 FSW (306 +/- 123 kPa) and average in-water time of 20.6 +/- 6.3 minutes. Limb pain was reported on 10 occasions during 35 man-days of diving. Symptoms were typically managed with analgesic medication rather than recompression. Indices of the decompression stress were estimated from the recorded profiles using a probabilistic model. We conclude that the dives were outside the limits of standard air decompression tables and that DCS symptoms were common. The high frequency of limb pain suggests the potential for dysbaric bone necrosis for these divers.

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