Background: Since the early 1980s, there has been much debate about whether shallow water diving may lead to long-term adverse effects on the nervous system.
Hypothesis: The aim of the study was to investigate possible neuropsychological effects from repeated diving in divers without overt neurological insult.
Methods: Twenty construction divers recruited from two companies of contractors were tested with a neuropsychological test battery in a cross-sectional study. The divers were on average 40 (range 24-54) yr old. They had worked as divers for an average of 18 (range 5-33) yr. Their mean diving experience was more than 4000 (range 450-13200) dives. A group of younger trainees at a diving school and a group of age-matched construction workers were recruited as controls.
Results: The construction divers did not show clinical signs of mental impairment. However, their neuropsychological test results indicated slight effects in the form of longer reaction time.
Conclusions: The main finding in this study of non-saturation construction divers was that there was no clear evidence of neuropsychological deficit due to extensive diving experience. However, it is suggested that the prolonged reaction time can be ascribed to extensive non-saturation diving.