Cyprus Mail

Significant increase in diving accidents in recent years 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is administered to divers with decompression sickness

Diving accidents recorded a significant increase in recent years, with most people involved developing decompression sickness and requiring oxygen therapy, state health services organisation (Okypy) said on Friday.

Accidents have been recorded in recreational diving, or diving as part of military operations, in the oil and gas industry, in harbour works as well as in fish farming facilities, Okypy said.

It added that the majority of those involved in such accidents exhibit symptoms of ‘diver’s disease’, a medical condition that leads to the need for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The condition also affects aviators, astronauts and compressed-air workers.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy the method of administering 100 per cent oxygen in an environment of higher than atmospheric pressure. The oxygen is administered inside special chambers and the pressure inside the chamber is increased by introducing compressed air, while patients are administered oxygen through a special face mask.

The only fully-equipped department in Cyprus according to Okypy operates 24 hours a day at the hyperbaric oxygen therapy department of the Famagusta general hospital, which has a decompression chamber and offers in-hospital care.

The role of the department, the organisation added, is multifaceted as it is not limited to offering health services to patients but provides advice and issues certificates to people who may submerge.

One element that makes the department stand out, it is pointed out, is the 24/7 support for diving accidents requiring oxygen treatment.

“The support is provided to the best standards, within an organised hospital setting, with uninterrupted operation and a large number of medical and nursing staff of many different specialities.” These include radiology laboratory, chemistry, and an intensive care unit.

The department is staffed by a specialist pathologist with specialisation in hyperbaric medicine and four hyperbaric nursing officers with experience in ICU, ICU and surgical clinics and has a state-of-the-art HAUX system, offering the possibility of simultaneous treatment of four patients in the main ward and two in the anteroom.

Initially used to treat decompression sickness, HBOT is now being used to treat other conditions such as gangrene and carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, Okypy added, more and more people globally are turning to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to deal with physical strain and injuries related to work, sport among others.

Rehabilitation of these types of injuries is important and if not treated in time can lead to chronic and often painful movement problems. Its use is particularly widespread among athletes at all levels and especially professionals in Europe and the USA.



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