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Health Matters
a Critical look at Chamber Dives
diving medical expert dr Anke
Diver training and narcosis tests
looks at the range of uses of
Another function of dry dives is to assist with diver training. Training dives can
hyperbaric chambers other than
be carried out in a safe, controlled environment from depths of up to 50m. The
that of treating decompression
use of the chambers for deep dive training for sports divers in depths of 40m
illness and gives her verdict on
to 50m has been the subject of debate by the German society for diving and
the controversial practices of
hyperbaric Medicine. The society said approving such training was very much
deep dry diving training and
dependent on the goal of the chamber dive and the depth.
nitrogen washouts.
one of the approved goals for this type of diving, according to the society, is
dry dives in hyperbaric chambers are used to
to test the individual symptoms of increased nitrogen partial pressure. More
medically treat dive accidents – the only known cure
commonly known as nitrogen narcosis, the symptoms are highly variable.
for decompression sickness. Alternatively chambers
As the symptoms often resemble those of alcohol intoxication, the dangers
are used for hyperbaric oxygen Therapy (hBoT) for
while being underwater are obvious. That’s why a safe way of testing narcosis
various conditions linked to microcirculation problems
tolerance is a deep dive in a chamber, which is performed in controlled
(blood vessels carrying to arteries, capillaries and veins),
conditions under medical supervision. The limit of such dives for recreational
insufficient perfusion (delivery of blood) of body tissues,
sport divers in the red sea is 40m, a depth most training agencies set as a limit.
infections (in places which have little or no oxygen) and
gas embolism.
however, while one can say these types of dives play a decisive role of
assessment, chamber dives do not entirely represent in-water dives. The
chamber dives are also carried out to investigate
nitrogen saturation during a chamber dive is not comparable with the
equalisation problems within a dry environment, offering
saturation underwater.
the possibility to test the airways and sinuses after
functional or traumatic disorders. diving equipment can
Firstly, the higher temperature in the chamber reduces the solubility of
also undergo tests before being taken underwater.
nitrogen in the tissues (according to henry’s lawy). secondly, no muscle
44 www.cdws.travel
Issue  october / November 2009
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