But how does this Baptism by saltwater work?
Primarily, scuba can physically heal a person. Many disabled partake in scuba for healing purposes. “Once I’m in the water, I feel that there are no limitations for me,” Evelyn Felipez, born with spina bifida, says to ABC news. “There’s nothing that makes me feel like I can’t do this.” Free from the force of gravity, disabilities disappear—these people can move freely.
According to Adam Kaplin, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at John Hopkins University, there is no treatment for people with chronic spinal cord injuries; furthermore, most believe that lost connection between the brain and extremities is not repairable. Through a 2011 study by John Hopkins University School of Medicine, a small group of veterans underwent a four-day scuba diving certification; the findings rejected these notions of hopeless, and yielded muscle movement improvement and increased sensitivity to touch.
Kaplin responds, “What we saw in the water strongly suggests there is some scuba-facilitated restoration of neurological and psychological function in paraplegics. It’s very provocative.”
Cody Urner suffered from a neurological syndrome that caused an inflammation of the spinal cord and paralyzation from the chest down; after diving, she claimed to regain some feeling in her legs. And it’s not the first time this has happened; multiple wheelchair divers at a conference in Pennsylvania voiced the same to Kaplin. Neither Kaplin nor his assistant researcher Daniel Becker can explain the healing effects of scuba, but its success cannot be denied.
Ernst Van Der Poll, a dive instructor on the leading edge of scuba therapy, believes that the two main healing affects of scuba are: 1) a world without gravitational pressures (explained by free movement), and 2) close proximity to nature.
According to the Canyon Ranch website, there’s plenty of science on the healing power of nature; humans have looked towards nature for healing since the beginning of time, and we’re returning to these roots with an increase in holistic practices. “Eco psychology—which explores the relationship between human beings and the natural world—is a growing field, and studies show that spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve overall feelings of wellbeing and happiness, raise your energy level and even increase your capacity for caring”. The website outlines multiple benefits of connecting with nature, such as mood boosts, newfound energy, and an appreciation of the present.
When one enters the water, she/he in completely submersed, and immersed, in nature and its healing forces—whether it’s conquering a task thought insurmountable, or appreciating those exotic creatures we call fish, or practicing slow, meditative breaths through a regulator. Either way, it’s thriving life, and living life.
In regards to disabled divers, ABC News says, “They say there’s something about going underwater that’s making them reach new heights”.
Canyon Ranch Staff. “The Healing Power of Nature.” Canyon Ranch. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2015.
John Hopkins School of Medicine. “Scuba Diving Improves Function of Body, Mind in Vets with Spinal Cord Injury.” John Hopkins Medicine. The John Hopkins University, 17 Sept. 2011. Web. 29 July 2015.
Sanders, Hosea. “Scuba Diving Used to Help Trauma Victims, People with Disabilities.” ABC 7 Eyewitness News. ABC Inc., 25 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 July 2015.