Cervical spine injuries resulting from diving accidents in swimming pools: outcome of 34 patients

Abstract

Cervical spine injuries after diving into private swimming pools can lead to dramatic consequences. We reviewed 34 patients hospitalized in our center between 1996 and 2006. Data was collected from their initial admission and from follow-up appointments. The injuries were sustained by young men in 97% (mean age 27) and the majority happened during the summer (88%). Fractures were at C5–C7 in 70%. American Spinal Injury Association class (ASIA) on admission was A for 8 patients, B for 4, C for 4, D for 1, and E for 17. There were 23 surgical spine stabilizations. Final ASIA class was A for 6 patients, B for 1, C for 3, D for 5, and E for 18. The mean duration of hospitalization was 21.3 days in our neurosurgical center (mean overall cost: 36,000 Euros/patient) plus 10.6 months in rehabilitation center for the 15 patients admitted who had an ASIA class A to C. Mean overall direct cost for a patient with class A is almost 300,000 Euros, compared to around 10,000 Euros for patients with class D and E. In addition, a profound impact on personal and professional life was seen in many cases including 11 divorces and 7 job losses. Dangerous diving into swimming pools can result in spinal injuries with drastic consequences, including permanent physical disability and a profound impact on socio-professional status. Moreover, there are significant financial costs to society. Better prevention strategies should be implemented to reduce the impact of this public health problem.

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Correspondence to Pierre-Yves Borius.

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Borius, P., Gouader, I., Bousquet, P. et al. Cervical spine injuries resulting from diving accidents in swimming pools: outcome of 34 patients. Eur Spine J 19, 552–557 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-009-1230-3

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Keywords

  • Cervical trauma
  • Diving accident
  • Outcome
  • Spine cord injury