Selected scientific publications on diving medicine and physiology.

2018 Nov 20
Designing a Diving Protocol for Thermocline Identification Using Dive Computers in Marine Citizen Science
Egi S. M., Cousteau P., Pieri M., Cerrano C., Özyigit T., and Marroni A.

Dive computers have an important potential for citizen science projects where recreational SCUBA divers can upload the depth temperature profile and the geolocation of the dive to a central database which may provide useful information about the subsurface temperature of the oceans. However, their accuracy may not be adequate and needs to be evaluated. The aim of this study is to assess the accuracy and precision of dive computers and provide guidelines in order to enable their contribution to citizen science projects. Twenty-two dive computers were evaluated during real ocean dives for consistency and scatter in the first phase.

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2018 Nov 1
Inert gas narcosis in scuba diving, different gases different reactions
Rocco M, Pelaia P, Di Benedetto P, Conte G, Maggi L, Fiorelli S, Mercieri M, Balestra C, De Blasi RA & Investigators RP

Purpose: Underwater divers face several potential neurological hazards when breathing compressed gas mixtures including nitrogen narcosis which can impact diver’s safety. Various human studies have clearly demonstrated brain impairment due to nitrogen narcosis in divers at 4 ATA using critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) as a cortical performance indicator. However, recently some authors have proposed a probable adaptive phenomenon during repetitive exposure to high nitrogen pressure in rats, where they found a reversal effect on dopamine release. Methods: Sixty experienced divers breathing Air, Trimix or Heliox, were studied during an open water dive to a depth of 6 ATA with a square profile testing CFFF measurement before (T0), during the dive upon arriving at the bottom (6 ATA) (T1), 20 min of bottom time (T2), and at 5 m (1.5 ATA) (T3).

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2018 Oct 2
Critical Flicker Fusion Frequency: a marker of cerebral arousal during modified gravitational conditions related to parabolic flights
Balestra C., Machado ML., Theunissen S., Balestra A., Cialoni D., Clot C., Besnard S., Kammacher L., Delzenne J., Germonpré P., Lafère P.

In situ evaluation of human brain performance and arousal remains challenging during operational circumstances, hence the need for a rapid, reliable and reproducible tool. Here we hypothesized that the Critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) reflecting/requiring visual integration, visuo-motor skills and decision-taking process might be a powerful, fast and simple tool in modified gravity environments. Therefore 11 male healthy volunteers were assessed for higher cognitive functions with CFFF during parabolic flights. They were assessed at different time points: upon arrival to the base, 30 min after subcutaneous scopolamine administration, before parabolas, during hypergravity and microgravity at break time (between the 16th and the 17th parabola), on the return flight and on the ground after landing.

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2018 Sep 1
Decreased incidence of pulmonary barotrauma after discontinuation of emergency free ascent training
Lafère P, Germonpré P, Guerrero F, Marroni A, Balestra C.

Introduction: Because a significant association between training to perform emergency free ascent (EFA) and the occurrence of pulmonary barotrauma (PBT) was demonstrated in 2006, the Belgian Underwater Federation (BUF) decided to discontinue this procedure. An evaluation was needed 10 yr after the implementation of this change. Methods: All medical records with a diagnosis of PBT that occurred in Belgium from November 2006 to September 2016 were prospectively collected. Data on the proportion of in-water skills training dives were obtained from BUF.

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2018 Aug 21
Hemoglobin and Erythropoietin After Commercial Saturation Diving
Kiboub FZ., Balestra C., Loennechen Ø., Eftedal I.

Saturation divers are exposed to elevated partial pressure of oxygen (ppO2) in their hyperbaric work environment. Experimental studies indicate that oxygen transport is altered, and we have previously reported a drop in hematocrit and extensive downregulation of genes involved in blood oxygen transport capacity after decompression from professional saturation diving. Here we investigate the initial period of hematological adjustment back to normobaric air after professional saturation diving. Erythropoietin (EPO) and hemoglobin (Hb) were measured in blood from 13 divers at two time-points after saturation assignments lasting up to 4 weeks; first immediately after decompression and again 24 h later. Pre-dive levels defined baselines.

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