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January 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Post-Op Diving

how you can suit up after major medical work

from the January, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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In fall 2010, at age 52, Undercurrent subscriber Karin Doggett (Richmond, VA) found out she needed rotator cuff surgery. "I had six anchors installed and was told that it was important to let this heal properly. The recovery changed my lifestyle significantly -- I was in physical therapy for six months. Healing may continue for several years, and a re-injury may not be repairable. Due to all that, I've not dived since. I miss it very much and want to get back in the water soon."

I , too, had rotator cuff surgery -- probably from those 78-mile-per-hour fastballs I threw in high school and college -- and was wondering how that would affect my diving. I wasn't so much worried about how I would do once in the water (though a long overhand crawl would be impossible), but I was concerned about whether I'd be able to lift tanks, haul dive gear and be able to get in and out of the water. Turns out, with today's valet diving, it's not so difficult.

In our recent monthly e-newsletter, I asked Undercurrent readers to describe how their surgical experiences have changed their diving routines. Many of them wrote back, detailing their surgeries and recovery experiences. The good news: Their replies show that divers can definitely return to the sport, but you must work hard to regain dive-ready fitness.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are about to go under the scalpel, let the surgeon know beforehand that you're a diver, says Edward McDevitt, an orthopedic surgeon in Annapolis, MD, who served as chief of orthopedics and sports medicine at the U.S. Naval Academy. "A lot of surgeons are athletic, many are divers, so they know what needs to be done to dive again after surgery."

Ed Heimiller (Streamwood, IL), has had four major surgeries in the past 12 years, returning to diving within six months after each one. "I have detailed discussions with the doctors prior to the operations to let them know about my active lifestyle, and to find out what limitations I would have afterwards."...

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