The Effects of Chronic Recurrent Spinal Trauma in High-Diving: A Study of Acapulco's Divers


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Abstract

The high divers at Acapulco provide a unique opportunity to study the effects of chronic recurrent cervical-spine trauma.The histories and neurological findings of these six divers were normal, thereby excluding lesions referable to the cervical spinal canal. Roentgenograms of the cervical spine showed some chronic bone changes in the spines of four of the divers; there was minimum bone encroachment on the cervical spinal canal by spurs or ridges posteriorly in only one of these. The three cervical spines which showed the greatest bone changes were in those divers who had slightly longer, less heavily muscled necks and who struck the water with their hands outstretched, absorbing the shock of impact directly upon their heads. A control group of ten persons of similar age but from other walks of Mexican life had normal cervical spines and neurological examinations.The data suggest that cervical spondylosis may not be caused by recurrent trauma but by degenerative disease.This is a preliminary study. An investigation of high-platform divers in the United States is contemplated for the future. Although results as dramatic as those presented here are not to be expected because of the decreased frequency and lesser height of the dives, there may be sufficient evidence to indicate need for standardization of diving techniques.

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