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Gazzetta Medica Italiana - Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2021 September;180(9):411-20

DOI: 10.23736/S0393-3660.19.04282-7

Copyright © 2019 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Psychophysiological factors in prolonged scuba-diving: a longitudinal case study of an elite diver

Gerardo BOSCO 1, Vittore VERRATTI 2, Matteo PAGANINI 1, Alex RIZZATO 1 , Natalie D’ALESSANDRO 1, Tiziana PIETRANGELO 2, Vincenzo ZANON 1, Enrico CAMPORESI 3

1 Laboratory of Environmental and Respiratory Physiology, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Padua, Padua, Italy; 2 Department of Psychological Sciences, Health and Territory, G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Chieti-Pescara, Italy; 3 TEAMHealth Research Institute, TGH, Tampa, FL, USA



BACKGROUND: The issue of prolonged diving has grown in importance, in light of the significant number of divers being lost at sea and exposed to prolonged immersion. Therefore, the aim of this longitudinal case study was to investigate the psychological and pathophysiological responses of an elite diver exposed to prolonged scuba dive.
METHODS: The project assessed adaptive responses to increasingly longer dives of an expert male diver through ten years (2004/2014): Pisa (24 hours, swimming pool: vitals and psychometric evaluation), Tremiti Islands (29 hours, open seawater: vitals, and feasibility at sea), Siracusa (32 hours, open seawater: vitals, platelet aggregation, postural balance, psychometric evaluation) and Maratea (36 hours, open seawater: vitals, muscle biopsy: intracellular calcium concentration, superoxide anion production).
RESULTS: Weight showed a constant reduction after each attempt. Psychometric tests detected a reduction in mood and cognitive domain. After the 32 hours-long attempt at sea, the subject’s postural stability showed to be impaired while an increased platelet activation was detected. Finally, in the 36 hours-long attempt, significantly increased levels of superoxide anion and intracellular calcium were detected on muscle biopsy after the dive, thus suggesting that the athlete was subjected to high oxidative stress level throughout the longer attempt.
CONCLUSIONS: Postural balance reduction, the muscular tissue oxidation increase and psychologic adaptation detected with this longitudinal study should be thoroughly assessed in the future in a larger sample because of the important implications on scuba-diving and search and rescue activities.


KEY WORDS: Extreme environments; Diving; Platelet aggregation; Postural balance; Oxidative stress

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