Diving as Therapy
While diving is an active and fun sport, it can also be a meditative, relaxing, and therapeutic experience. Underwater, visual and auditory distractions are minimized. The sensory feeling of floating weightlessly suspended in water, and listening to the rhythmic sound of your breathing can be very calming. The weightlessness of being underwater may also relieve physical pain and help those with mobility issues to exercise in a more comfortable manner.
The feeling of being underwater is soothing for many people but can be particularly beneficial for those with limited mobility, autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and sensory processing disorder. Researchers at Midwestern University surveyed a group of kids and young adults with autism spectrum disorders and their response to scuba diving. The study found that four major themes emerged: feeling better about myself and what I can do, finding sensory freedom in the water, social participation, and not defined by disability or “everybody is equal underwater.”
Psychological benefits associated with aquatic activities include improvements in mood, self-esteem, and decreased anxiety. Submersion in water has a calming effect given the tactile and vestibular sensory inputs. which can lead to better behavioral control and self-regulation. Diving has also been shown to have physiological benefits such as improved range of motion, strength, coordination, spatial and perceptual awareness, relaxation, and endurance.
Divers with a disability or medical issue will need to fill out a form and have it signed by their doctor before they can dive.