Steven Giddens interned with Heartbeat for 10 weeks as part his coursework at Sterling College in Vermont. Below is an excerpt from Steven’s “SCUBA Therapy” story that appeared in Sterling’s Spring 2014 issue of Common Voice.
The atmospheric pressure associated with diving has shown positive results with increased cognitive function of divers who have traumatic brain injuries. There are lots of tests being done in hyperbaric chambers to fully study this phenomenon, but the chamber test are less effective than the open water research.
The pressure has also been effective in helping shrapnel be naturally and slowly moved away from vital organs so that later surgeries can be more effective in removing dangerous objects within the divers’ bodies. Lastly, the cold water cushions the delivers and is a weightless environment. Weightless equates to decease in pain and an increase in range of motion. Water, being denser than air, also ensures increased muscle tone and improved fitness. The cold water is also a soothing cold compress on sore and tender muscles and joints. All those I interacted with reported higher levels of energy, happiness, range of motion, stamina, and more while reporting lower levels of fatigue, soreness, and depression.
Many vets don’t want to talk, and I am no exception. I don’t have to talk while diving and it is something my wife and I can do together, have a great time, and enjoy together without having to say much, but still knowing every intricate detail of the experience. Not to mention I, and other vets, open up and talk about how cool the dive was. Everyone I worked with, including myself, said that SCUBA diving allowed us to become less introverted, shy, and actually talk to our spouses and families about more than just diving.
I spent 10 weeks with Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors and worked directly with the SCUBA Warrior Program. I logged over 500 hours with Heartbeat and completed 62 dives with the SCUBA Warriors. It is my hope that when I finish my degree at Sterling College, I can return to Washington and work with Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors while continuing my education and research of SCUBA therapy, so I can help more veterans and their families connect with nature and themselves.