Current Research

Diver Return After COVID-19 Infection (DRACO): A Longitudinal Assessment
Since the declaration of the pandemic, the pulmonary effects of COVID-19 have been causing concern. DAN is looking for divers who have recovered from suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection for a long-term study on the effects of COVID-19 on divers’ health and fitness to dive.

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DAN Rebreather Study – Caustic Cocktail
DAN researchers are looking for rebreather divers to share their experiences with caustic cocktail(s). There is not much data about how common caustic cocktail events are, who suffers them and how often or if they occur more in highly experienced or less experienced rebreather divers, how long into dives they occur, or how divers respond to them.

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Cardiac Arrythmias in Scuba Divers
Heart issues are frequently implicated in scuba diving fatalities. Abnormal heartbeats, also known as arrythmias, can be a marker of cardiac compromise. This study follows 110 divers during six scuba diving trips and characterizes the factors that contribute to any post-diving arrythmias.

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Diving Incident Reporting System
The diving incident reporting system (DIRS) is one of the tools we use to gain insight into the not-so-pleasant experiences divers sometimes have. The purpose of this ongoing study is to collect and analyze voluntarily submitted reports of breath-hold and scuba diving safety mishaps reports in order to reduce injuries and fatalities.

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Surveillance of Fatal Injuries in Diving
Until we succeed in making every dive accident- and injury-free, DAN will continue to collect and analyze information about dive fatalities. The purpose of this database is to monitor trends in fatal injuries and identify risk factors associated with fatal diving accidents.

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Comparative Testing of Ultrasound Devices in Monitoring VGE
In some divers, tiny bubbles referred to as Venous Gas Emboli (VGE) present in the blood after a dive. In this study, DAN researchers compare the effectiveness of three different ultrasound devices used to monitor post-dive venous gas emboli in healthy divers.

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The Mechanics of Spinal Cord Decompression Sickness
Spinal cord decompression sickness is among the most serious forms of decompression illness. This project studies the mechanics of how bubbles damage the spinal cord by using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging to observe bubble growth and tissue damage in decompressing tissue samples. The goal is to improve recompression treatment.

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Symptoms After Treatment for Decompression Illness: A Prospective Survey
The purpose of this prospective study is to estimate the occurrence of returning or worsening symptoms of DCI in both divers that fly after treatment and treated divers that do not and to determine how long divers wait before flying after treatment for DCI.

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Exploring Decompression Bubbles Using Advanced Ultrasound Techniques
Venous gas emboli (VGE) are bubbles that can appear in the blood after a dive due to decompression. These bubbles are detectable using ultrasound imaging and provide a measure of decompression stress. Advanced ultrasound imaging techniques are being developed at UNC for detecting these microbubbles and differentiating them from VGE.

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Accelerating Diving Research Toward More Continuous Bubble Assessment
VGE evolution postdive varies dramatically, so frequent measurement may be important for understanding the influence of VGE on other physiological mechanisms in diving. UNC researchers are working on obtaining a large number of ultrasound recordings to be used in refining algorithms for VGE detection.

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Full-Face Snorkel Mask Safety Study
Divers Alert Network aims to assess the safety of using full-face snorkel masks (FFSMs). In recent years DAN has begun to receive incident reports connected to these new devices. This study aims to test different FFSM models to determine their characteristics and observable risks. The testing will be a collaborative effort between DAN and Duke University.

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Freediving and DCS
While DCS in scuba diving is a well-recognized disease, much less is known about breath-hold divers who suffer DCS. With improvements in technology and training methods, today’s divers dive longer and deeper than ever before. The primary goal of this study is to collect high-resolution data on breath-hold divers’ depth/time profiles to further our understanding of decompression illness.

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Hypoxia Signatures in Closed-Circuit Rebreather Divers
Malfunctions in closed circuit rebreathers (CCRs) can cause hypoxia if oxygen is not added to the breathing loop and the diver remains unaware of decreasing oxygen levels. Hypoxia, dangerously low oxygen levels, can lead to confusion, loss of consciousness underwater and drowning. This study examines CCR divers’ ability to recognize their “hypoxia signature” and perform self-rescue.

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