Objectives: This review sought to determine the epidemiology of diving injuries in Barbados and outcomes of treatment.
Methods: This retrospective study is a review of medical notes from January 1995 to December 2009, from the hyperbaric chamber at the Barbados Defense Force. Data included age at time of injury, gender, nationality of residence and diving accident. Injury-specific data included time from onset of injury to treatment, presenting signs and symptoms and diagnosis. The number of treatments performed and their outcomes were also noted.
Results: During this period, 183 cases presented to the hyperbaric unit. Males accounted for 82% of the cases. The average age was 36.25 years (range: 17–79 years). Half lived in the Caribbean and dived mainly for work. Sport diving was responsible for 51.4% of the cases presenting to the unit. Decompression sickness Type 2 comprised 56% of the cases. Neurological symptoms were common, with numbness, weakness and strange sensations affecting 45.4, 43.7 and 47.5%, respectively. There was a mean of 3.35 treatments and 63.9% showed complete resolution of symptoms, and a further 25% showed improvement after treatment.
Conclusion: Diving is a relatively safe activity but decompression illness does occur at times. The number of cases presenting to the unit decreased over the 15-year period for various reasons. However, the unit continues to have very good outcomes for those treated.