As summer approaches, the DAN Research Department is focused on the following current studies on dive health and safety:Project Dive Exploration
An observational research study, Project Dive Exploration (PDE) is designed to collect dive profile data on actual dives — no chamber dives in this study. In addition, PDE helps compile information on behavioral and health aspects of recreational divers. This study will provide a look into the world of recreational divers: their behavior, dive profiles and any specific characteristics of these divers and their risks of decompression illness (DCI).
The study’s aim to establish a recreational diving database of safe dives as well as dives that result in injuries. This collection of data would then serve as a resource for research in dive safety. Since data collection began in 1995, PDE has generated more than 40,000 dive profiles for the database through April 2002.
To enhance data-gathering efforts, DAN initiated a program to recognize manufacturers who make dive computers that are compatible with PDE (see Dive Computer Recognition Program). Volunteer Field Research Coordinators and Data Collection Centers are also integral to PDE data collection. The first liveaboard to join PDE was Nekton Diving Cruises. Since 1998, the Nekton Pilot and primarily Field Research Coordinator Mike Cohen have collected data, and in 2001 the Nekton Rorqual, a second liveaboard, began doing the same under the supervision of John Frederic. DAN began working with the Aggressor Fleet of liveaboards in 2001 to collect PDE dives, and as of April, the Turks and Caicos and Cayman Aggressors’ crew members were trained in PDE data collection.
Aging Diver Study
Now conducted as part of PDE, the Aging Diver Study seeks to determine the effects of age on diving. It seeks to identify special concerns for divers who are age 50 or older, with a focus on the occurrence of equipment problems, dive medical problems, non-dive medical problems and other diving-related incidents. DAN is testing the hypothesis that older divers are at no greater risk for dive injuries than younger divers. The study will evaluate the effects of age and associated medical conditions on dive style and dive outcome.
Dive Computer Recognition Program
In 2000, DAN began a program to recognize manufacturers who make dive computers that were compatible with PDE. The program is open to all manufacturers that have implemented the DAN Dive Log-7 (DL7) standard in their dive log software. The DL7 standard was developed to support PDE but is applicable in any other project that involves dive data collection. The purpose of the Dive Computer Recognition Program is to increase participation in PDE by increasing awareness of all dive computer users. To date, Cochran, DiveRite, Suunto, Uwatec and Sensus are distributing their products worldwide with an announcement that their dive computers are compatible with PDE.
Ascent Rate Study
DAN’s Ascent Rate Study seeks to evaluate the relationship of ascent rate to decompression illness and venous gas emboli (i.e., Doppler-detected bubbles in the bloodstream). The study will determine if differences exist in the incidences of decompression sickness and venous gas embolism between 10- and 60-foot (3- and 18-meters) per-minute ascents after dives to 100 feet / 30 meters. Study dives are conducted at the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology (Hyperbaric Center) of Duke University Medical Center. DAN personnel will help to administer and conduct this study.
U.S. Navy Flying After Diving (FAD) Study
U.S. Navy divers undertake training and missions that may require flying soon after diving. To reduce the risk of decompression sickness as a result of flying after diving, guidelines published in the U.S. Navy Diving Manual in 1999 specified how long a diver should remain at sea level pressure before further decompression to altitude for a flight. This study, funded by the Navy, aims to test current USN FAD procedures, and test oxygen breathing during the surface intervals before flying. Trials began in March at Duke University’s Hyperbaric Center.
DAN Internship Program
The DAN Research Internship Program began in 2000 with the objectives of expanding PDE data collection and providing experiences for people in careers in diving or diving-related fields. Recruited largely from undergraduates at colleges, universities and medical schools, the interns become DAN liaisons to the diving public, communicating the importance of research for improving the safety of recreational diving.
DAN trains and mentors the interns in data collection and diving medical research. From May through August, interns receive training in diving physiology and research methodology, with access at DAN to people who are conducting diving safety research. In addition, they are trained as PDE Field Research Coordinators to collect dive data. They then locate to PDE host sites for two months to collect PDE data. Interns often earn college credits for their work. Internship applications are due by January.