The long-awaited summer season is often synonymous with refreshing dips in beaches, pools and rivers.
However, it's important to remember that jumping recklessly into the water can be extremely hazardous to your health. Health experts warn of the risks associated with this practice and stress that the best way to prevent accidents is to avoid risky behavior.
Unfortunately, the figures don't lie. Last year, 37 minors aged 0-17 died by drowning in France. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among young people.
During the summer vacations, many people rush into the water to cool off and have fun, unaware of the real dangers associated with these reckless leaps. Yet these actions can lead to serious spinal cord injuries, with devastating consequences for both the victim and his or her family.
That's why experts are stepping up their warnings as summer approaches, when accidents linked to such irresponsible behavior become more common.
Serious and irreversible injuries
Last year, the National Hospital for Paraplegics admitted 8 people with spinal cord injuries caused by jumping into water. All were men aged between 16 and 47, with an average age of 24.9, significantly younger than other spinal cord injury patients.
These traumas mainly affected the highest part of the spine, i.e. the cervical vertebrae. These injuries are considered the most serious, as they can lead to respiratory problems and even death.
Water depth: a crucial factor
According to Carlos Alberto Villarón, Professor of Physiotherapy at the European University of Valencia, young people are often the ones who dive without knowing the depth of the water. This carelessness can lead to a variety of injuries, some of them minor, such as fractures of the lower limbs. However, if the dive is carried out head first, it can lead to impact to the skull and very serious damage to the spinal cord, resulting in permanent paralysis or even tetraplegia.
The severity of these spinal cord injuries varies, ranging from temporary paralysis to permanent loss of motor and sensory functions.
Severe consequences for families
Spinal cord injuries also have a major impact on families. Their management often requires adaptations to the home, such as the use of wheelchairs or special bathroom fittings. Unfortunately, few homes are prepared for such situations.
Carlos Villarón stresses that it is essential to avoid risky situations and make informed decisions when practicing sports activities. The best form of prevention is to avoid risky behavior.
First of all, it's important to know the depth of the water surface before diving. Secondly, it's advisable to avoid head-down dives.
It's also essential to adopt a cautious attitude during summer activities. You must not relax your vigilance, even in times of relaxation and leisure. It's perfectly possible to have fun in complete safety, as long as you observe certain rules of caution.
Safety of the youngest first
Toddlers learning to swim should always be equipped with suitable safety systems, such as life jackets. However, it's important to stress that even with these devices, young children must remain under constant adult supervision when in the water.
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