[abstract] PREVALENCE OF DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS AMONG SOUTHEAST ALASKA HARVEST DIVERS

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[abstract] PREVALENCE OF DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS AMONG SOUTHEAST ALASKA HARVEST DIVERS

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Title: [abstract] PREVALENCE OF DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS AMONG SOUTHEAST ALASKA HARVEST DIVERS
Author: Long, RJ; Haddock, N; Leask, PA; Dear, GdeL; Moon, RE
Abstract: INTRODUCTION: The prevalence of decompression sickness (DCS) among native dive harvesters in Alaska is unknown. A survey was designed to evaluate the career prevalence of DCS in the dive community of Metlakatla in SE Alaska. MATERIALS AND METHODS: After first receiving tribal council approval, a list of 71 dive harvesters from the 1999 dive season was obtained from the local fisheries department. Divers were contacted by phone and asked for their voluntary cooperation in the survey. Interviews were done in person. RESULTS: Of the 71 listed divers; we were able to make contact with 48 and 37 agreed to take the survey. Data on diver age, training, years of diving, perceptions of diving as a profession were asked of each individual. Questions about equipment and dive profiles were elicited with the following results: use of Hookah 100percent, use of scuba 24percent, use dive computer 97percent, O2 available on dive boat 68percent, mean number of weeks/ year diving 19, mean days dived per week 4, mean dives per day 4, mean depth of dives 90'. They were then asked whether they had ever any of a list of symptoms during or immediately after diving (Table 1). Of the 20 divers reporting joint pain only 10 recognized the symptoms as consistent with DCS and only 3 actually sought medical treatment. Four opted to self-treat with O2 on the boat but did not seek medical attention in spite of readily accessible and free medical services for all tribal members. Overall there was a career prevalence of 81percent of those surveyed with symptoms consistent with DCS. Table 1 with positive response percent Totals, Limb/ Joint pain 20 54, Headache 19 51, Extreme Fatigue 18 48, Inner ear Symptoms13 35, Itching Rash 6 16, Extremity Tingling 6 16, Balance Difficulties4 11, Confusion 4 11, Difficulty Breathing3 8, Chest Pain 2 5, Speech/Vision Difficulties2 5, Paralysis 1 2. CONCLUSIONS: Dive harvesting in South East Alaska is an inherently dangerous occupation. Our survey suggests a high rate of DCS among harvest divers. The long-term consequences for these divers are unknown. Decompression Sickness, Alaska Harvest Divers
Description: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. (http://www.uhms.org )
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/1196
Date: 2002

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  • UHMS Meeting Abstracts
    This is a collection of the published abstracts from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) annual meetings.

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