Scuba Diving Physicals

Medical Evaluation of Divers

The medical evaluation of divers should be completed before a diver may begin any diving activities. It is recommended that the medical evaluation is current within the preceding three years or within the preceding two years if the diver is over the age of 40. It is also important to note that a medical evaluation should be completed after any major injury or illness as well as a medical clearance from a physician must be obtained following any condition that requires hospitalization for more than 24 hours.

Initial Examination

Typically, an initial examination will consist of a review of:

• The diver’s medical history
• A chest x-ray
• 12 lead EKG
• Pulmonary function test
• Audiogram
• Visual acuity
• Complete blood count
• Blood chemistry
• Urinalysis
• Any other tests that the physician may deem as necessary to qualify the individual for scuba diving

Periodic re-examination is recommended every three years for individuals under the age of 40 and every 2 years for individuals over the age of 40. The re-examination will consists of requirements similar to the initial examination to include a review of medical history, pulmonary function test, audiogram, visual acuity, complete blood count, blood chemistry, urinalysis, and any other tests as ordered by the physician.

Physical Examination to Prevent Fatalities

According to the Diver’s Alert Network 2010 Diving Fatalities Workshop Proceeding, the three root causes leading to SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) diving fatalities include pre-existing disease or pathology in the diver, poor buoyancy control, and rapid ascent or violent water movement. All three of these factors are completely avoidable such as the case with the pre-existing diseases or pathology in the diver.

Diving places considerable demands on your emotional and physical condition. Such demands are increased in the presence of certain medical conditions, which also places the diver in greater risk for grave consequences. Prior to engaging in SCUBA diving, it is important to undergo a physical examination of your fitness level and to screen for any physical deficiencies that can impact your safety and increase the risks associated with diving. All divers should have passed a current diving physical examination, which would indicate that the individual has been declared by a qualified examining physician to be fit to engage in diving activities.

Review of Systems and Conditions

The physical examination of recreational scuba divers include a review of systems and review of conditions for which restrictions from diving is recommended such as conditions related to the cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological, otolaryngological, gastrointestinal, metabolic and endocrinological, hematological, orthopedic, and behavioral health systems. Individuals with a history of cardiovascular conditions, such as a history of hypertension, myocardial infarction, or coronary artery bypass grafting, are recommended against diving. Any conditions that impede the air flow from the lungs also place the diver at risk for pulmonary over-inflation, such as individuals with a history of asthma.

Neurological abnormalities, such as history of seizures or history of spinal cord injury, also affect the ability of the diver to perform exercises and may put the diver at risk for drowning. Individuals with a history of orthopedic conditions such as chronic back pain or amputation are also advised against diving activities. The mental capacity and behavioral health of the diver is also important to safe diving so that it is important for the examining physician to assess for factors such as history of drug or alcohol abuse, history of panic disorder, developmental delays, or active psychosis. Lastly, women who are or think they may be pregnant are advised against diving.

Come to Healthpointe

A scuba diving physical can be completed at one of our Healthpointe clinics where a qualified examining physician will conduct a physical examination and a review of your medical history in order to assess for your ability to safely navigate underwater through the use of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA). Following the physical examination, a written report will be issued by the examining physician. The written medical evaluation report provided by the examining physician should declare that the diver is free of any chronic disabling disease and/or free of any other conditions for which restrictions from diving are generally recommended.

References

  1. Campbell, Ernest. “Medical Standards for Sport Diving.”
    <http://www.scuba-doc.com/mdxphys.htm>.
  2. “Guidelines for Recreational Scuba Diver’s Physical Examination.”
    < http://www.wetsetscuba.com/pdfs/medical_exam.pdf>
  3. Divers Alert Network. “Recreational Diving Fatalities Workshop Proceedings.”
    <https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/files/Fatalities_Proceedings.pdf>

So, do you need to take a physical? Call Healthpointe at (888) 824-6468 or contact us here and schedule an appointment today!