Neurologic presentation of decompression sickness and air embolism in sport divers

Neurology. 1985 May;35(5):667-71. doi: 10.1212/wnl.35.5.667.


In a retrospective study of scuba divers with neurologic injuries, we found that mild symptoms were common. Seventy divers had decompression sickness, most often with paresthesias or numbness, rarely with paresis. Thirty-nine divers had air embolism that often caused unconsciousness or mild symptoms of cerebral injury. Many divers with neurologic decompression sickness gave histories of dives that were within conventional limits, and many with air embolism gave no history of breath-holding during ascent. Mild symptoms sometimes regressed spontaneously. Recompression delays were responsible for poor responses to therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atmosphere Exposure Chambers
  • Decompression Sickness / diagnosis*
  • Decompression Sickness / therapy
  • Diving*
  • Embolism, Air / diagnosis*
  • Embolism, Air / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / diagnosis*
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naval Medicine
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use
  • Paralysis / diagnosis
  • Paresthesia / diagnosis


  • Oxygen