A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found, “veterans with spinal cord injuries who underwent a four-day scuba- diving certification saw significant improvement in muscle movement, increased sensitivity to light touch and pinprick on the legs, and large reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.”
In 2016, The New York Times reported on the benefits of scuba diving for veterans suffering from PTSD: “Traditional medical approaches generally rely on drugs and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. But this combination has proved so unpopular that many veterans quit before finishing or avoid it altogether.” On the other side of the coin, one Iraq War veteran who survived being shot in the head told The Times, “There are no bad memories in the water. Everything just wants to live. It made me want to live again.”
In addition to the scientific findings, we’ve heard firsthand from hundreds of disabled divers telling us they feel less anxiety, fewer headaches, and a feeling of freedom that was previously missing from their life. We’ve seen vets with PTSD change from emotionally shut down and compartmentalized to open and engaged.
Underwater, divers experience weightlessness, and for those suffering from severe injuries, this can make a huge difference - reducing swelling, taking pressure off joints, and reducing back and neck pain. Our divers tell us being underwater helps them filter everything out and just breathe.
The social aspect of scuba for people with mental and physical disabilities is also transformational. Often people isolate themselves and struggle in silence. We pair disabled divers with people they can relate to, divers who are experiencing similar issues. Also, scuba diving is always done with a buddy. This could be a loved one, an instructor or a large group bonding experience.
Whether a person was injured in an accident, as the result of disease, or is a veteran of war, scuba diving can help. Support Patriots for Disabled Divers and help us expand the possible for disabled people one diver at a time.