'Sea legs': sharpened Romberg test after three days on a live-aboard dive boat.

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'Sea legs': sharpened Romberg test after three days on a live-aboard dive boat.

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Title: 'Sea legs': sharpened Romberg test after three days on a live-aboard dive boat.
Author: Gibbs, CR; Commons, KH; Brown, LH; Blake, DF
Abstract: INTRODUCTION: The sharpened Romberg test (SRT) is commonly used by diving and hyperbaric physicians as an indicator of neurological decompression illness (DCI). People who spend a prolonged time on a boat at sea experience impairment in their balance on returning to shore, a condition known as mal de debarquement ('sea legs'). This conditioning of the vestibular system to the rocking motion of a boat at sea may impact on the utility of the SRT in assessing a diver with potential DCI after a live-aboard dive trip. AIM: To assess the impact 'sea legs' has on the SRT after three days on a live-aboard dive trip. METHODS: Thirty-nine staff and passengers of a three-day, live-aboard dive trip performed a SRT before and after their journey, with assessment of potential variables, including middle ear barotrauma, alcohol consumption, sea-sickness and occult DCI. RESULTS: There was no statistically significant impact on SRT performance, with 100% completion pre-trip and 35 out of 36 divers (97.2%) post-trip. There were trends towards more attempts being required and time needed for successful SRT post-trip, but these were not statistically significant. There was a small, but noteworthy incidence of middle-ear barotrauma, with seven people affected pre-trip, and 13 post-trip. There was a higher incidence in student divers. Middle-ear barotrauma did not appear to have a direct impact on SRT performance. CONCLUSION: There was no significant impact on SRT performance resulting from 'sea legs' after three days at sea. Recreational divers, especially dive students, have a substantial incidence of mild middle ear barotrauma.
Description: The Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (Incorporated in Victoria) A0020660B and the European Underwater and Baromedical Society
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/10221
Date: 2010

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