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7th June 2016 - Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can improve Traumatic Brain injury and Fibromyalgia

I would like to take a moment to share with readers this video from The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Reasearch in Israel.

Click here to watch HBOT video.

As aforementioned on this very blog, the center has long been at the forefront of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments, and this video expertly shows the profound and life changing effects that HBOT has had on patients suffering from traumatic brain injury and Fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, just like many of these Israeli patients, patients in the UK will find that treatment for such injuries using HBOT is plagued with NHS funding issues and a distinct lack of clinical referrals or support; despite extensive research from organisations such as The Sagol Center that undoubtably prove the benefits of HBOT in treating these conditions.

This means that many patients who could greatly benefit from HBOT in England, must either go without, or burden the heavy costs of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments themselves.

At LDC we are working closely with The British Hyperbaric Association and NHS England to help improve the situation and hopefully work towards a future where HBOT is accessible and affordable to all who will benefit from it.

If you would like to know more on the benefits of HBOT, the conditions it can treat, or how you can help to raise awareness, then please call 01788 579 555 (for Midlands and North based patients) or 020 7806 4021 (for London and the South of England).

Thanks for watching,


Dr Oliver Firth

5th May 2016 - Fight for Every Heartbeat

Hello readers,

Just a general musing for this week is to highlight the importance of the British Heart Foundation's scheme to provide local public spaces with public access defibrillators (PADs).

The British Heart Foundations Our Nation of Lifesavers Community package offers part funding for a public access defibrillator and Call Push Rescue training kit. The scheme has been so popular that by the time I am writing this, the Department of Health Defibrillator funding programme in England has now closed as an overwhelming demand in applications has meant that all of £1 million of funding has now been allocated.

If you've never used, or even heard of, a defibrillator, then you really should have. You may have noticed them in your locality, at the gym, train station or your local village hall, sitting in a briefcase sized box on the wall, it is there for anyone to use on someone who is in cardiac arrest. They are simple and safe to use and require little to no training to operate, and, most importantly, they could save someone's life.

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone's chances of survival by 10 per cent. The first thing that a 999 operator will instruct you to do is to find out if there is a public access defibrillator nearby, and tell you to use it. Therefore it is imperative that our communities have access to these life saving devices and that charities like the British Heart Foundation continue to push to raise awareness and accessibility for PAD's to be accessible in local communities up and down the country.

For the untrained first responder on the scene, the prospect of using a technical piece of medical equipment for the first time, especially when someone's life is hanging in the balance, can be a daunting experience. However, defibrillators are very easy to use, yes they can vary in appearance and functionality, but each ones comes with easy to follow, step-by-step spoken instructions that you simply have to follow. There are also many First Aid , First Aid at Work and AED courses that you can take to make sure that if the worst does happen, that you are prepared. More often than not, many employers will fund First Aid courses for nominated employees, so it is worth checking whether you are eligible to take one.

As aforementioned, the Nation of Lifesavers Community scheme has now closed, however for a comprehensive guide on obtaining and using a PAD read this Guide to Defibrillators and visit the Resuscitation Council UK website.

So go forth,and make every second count!

Dr Oliver Firth
Comments on this post:

Thank you so much for posting this. I have been in situations where a defibrillator was not available and the outcome was death. With a defibrillator the victim as least stands a chance. I am so glad to hear that the UK is providing public defibrillators, which the USA does not yet do. Sincerely, Donald Jacobson MD

disabled psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist and former diver, now dive medicine and safety blogger at-

Donald Jacobson MD

13th April 2016 - Thinking of career change? Maybe we can help...

As the resident diving doc at LDC I see many a diver walk through my door on daily basis, whether for a DCI emergency case, a fit to dive query for recreational divers, or more frequently, a HSE dive medical.

The HSE medical is required by all commercial divers to be able to legally and safely work in their industry, which got me to thinking. I wonder if any of our recreational divers, instructors and DM's, have ever thought about turning their passion into a full time, highly paid, job?

It's a big step, and one that requires total commitment, but a career in commercial diving can offer you substantial returns, plus an exciting and rewarding profession.

Everyday at the chamber we see commercial divers who travel to all four corners of the globe for work, from the North Sea to the Indian Ocean even off the coasts of Africa. Of course long stints away from home may not appeal to everyone, but lucrative work can also be found closer to home on many inshore projects. Despite a slump in oil prices, the oil and gas industry is still the single largest employer in the subsea sector and there a positive developments being made right now to ensure that that a large volume of employment will be served by the offshore renewables sector over the next decade.

This means that there will continue to be a demand for offshore personnel including divers, ROV pilots and Life Support Technicians (LSTs).

How do I make the step? You might be wondering. Well on site at LDC we have our very own training facility in the form of LDC-Training, and with that the tools to get you your first step on the commercial diving ladder.

The Assistant Life Support Technician Course at LDC Training enables participants to enter the rewarding commercial diving industry, irrespective of his or her background and qualifications. This course is an International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) approved certification that is recognised internationally by the commercial diving industry.

An A.L.S.T. is part of a team responsible for maintaining life support for divers living within hyperbaric saturation environments during offshore diving operations worldwide on fixed platforms and Dive Support Vessels.

With ever more expansion in the oil and gas sector and new developments emerging in offshore wind farms, there is still a continued demand for divers. There is no denying that this can be a tough job physically and emotionally, but for those who want a challenge, a career in commercial diving could be open up a whole new world of opportunity and success.

At the start of their careers, most divers will build initial experience with inshore diving work before making the move to better paid jobs offshore and your first foot on the ladder will be to start your L.S.T training.

What can you expect to learn on the A.L.S.T?

The course provides a comprehensive theory and practical element, which prepares the new entrant for work as an Assistant Life Support Technician (ALST).

The A.L.S.T course is a 10 day program run over a two week period, no prior experience is needed, although a basic knowledge of physics and mathematics would be an advantage. On completion of the course, and after having successfully passed the LDC-Training in-house examinations, you are issued with an IMCA approved certificate.

For information on course dates or to book, visit LDC Training today.

Thanks for reading,


Dr Oliver Firth

17th March 2016 - Dive Lectures 2016
From left: Jules Eden, Graham Hancock, Patrick Spain, Liam Coffey

Well howdy LDC visitors, just a quick word to say what a splendid evening the 2016 Dive Lectures at the RGS were.

After a dramatic day at the office whereby we were informed at the eleventh hour that our opening speaker, Lord Prescott, had to cancel to attend a mightily important immigration bill vote in the House of Lords, and thus had to scramble to his office to film the opener instead, it was a great relief to get to the bar while the lecture theatre filled up at the Royal Geographical Society.

Prescott, although not there in physical form, delivered a magnificent opening address and managed to light up the stage with just the right amount of humour and fascinating diving experience. Followed by the sprightly and energetic Bostonian, Pat Spain (off Nat Geo Wild fame) and a mind blowing archaeological mind trip from Graham Hancock, it was fair to say that the Dive Lectures 2016 was a very enjoyable night to remember.

Most importantly we were all there to support Scuba Trust, and donations on the night totalled a great £2051. I think this was greatly helped by the wonderful Liam Coffey from the Trust who gave a great presentation on diving with a disability.

Many thanks to all who came, especially those who purchased a copy of FAQ Dive Medicine.

See you all next year folks!

Dr Oliver Firth

6th October 2015 - England crash out of the rugby world cup while Japan use HBOT to get players fighting fit!
Gift from the Japanese team.

As the English nation struggle to come to terms with the national team crashing out of our own world cup at record breaking speed, Japan have been utilising the facilities close to their training camp in Warwick to get their players fighting fit for their next game.

Long time advocates of using HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) to accelerate recovery time in injured players, the Japanese team have ensured that any soft tissue damage their key players have sustained during the competition will not be the reason for their defeat, by opting to take the players for treatment at the Midlands Diving Chamber in Rugby for daily HBOT treatments.

Whilst we feel for the England team and their early exit from the competition, we cannot help but admire the determination and duty of care that the Japanese coaches clearly have for their players as they fight for their place amongst the other heavy weight rugby playing nations. Being the break out stars of the Rugby World Cup so far, we wish them the best of luck in their next match!

Dr Oliver Firth

5th October 2015 - Israel Leads the way in Hyperbaric Research
The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine

The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research based in Assaf Harofeh is currently the largest hyperbaric facility in Israel and one of the biggest worldwide, treating more than 120 patients per day.

As well us using HBOT for burns, radiation injuries and non-helaing ulcers, The Sagol Center has also started research into using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for different types of brain injuries, proposing a brighter future for many patients who could now benefit from the non-invasive, highly effective treatment. Read more about the research and facilities at the Sagol Center by clicking here.

Dr Oliver Firth

15th March 2012 - FAQ Dive Medicine!
FAQ Dive Medicine - available to purchase at Amazon

Spring is doing its hardest to live up to its name - the daffodils are cautiously unfurling their dazzling yellow petals, the residents of St John's Wood are donning ridiculous sunglasses to sip their frappuccino's outdoors, and I can finally reveal what we at LDC have been beavering away on for the last few months. Much like the aforementioned dam-building semi-aquatic rodent, we've avoided hibernation this winter, and instead constructed our own literary cathedral: the ultimate medical guide to this sport we all love, which we've called FAQ DIVE MEDICINE.

Composed and compiled from our vast archives of medical memorabilia, and wittily edited together by Tanked Up's resident comedian Rob Hunt, it's been a gestation and labour of some devotion. To continue with the somewhat queasy antenatal metaphor, delivery has now taken place and you'll be pleased to hear both parents and offspring are doing well, with multiple identical copies winging their way to depots all over the country pending official release on 31st March. Within its 336 pages of wholesome, aquatic, full-colour goodness you're sure to find tidbits and morsels to ruminate on, chew over, roll thoughtfully around the tastebuds, and eventually swallow, releasing all sorts of diving-based information and anecdotes into your thirsty brains.

Forget tablets from a certain fruit-based computer company; this is THE hot product right now. For those many millions of you who just can't bear the prospect of not owning a copy as soon as possible, you can pre-order on Amazon via the link below.

I look forward to hearing what you all think!


Dr Oliver Firth

18th January 2012 - The Blog has Landed!
Doctor Oli aka 'The Thinker'

Greetings all and welcome to the occasional, intermittent and incongruous blog of Dr Oli. I'll be posting as and when I come across anything that might be of interest to our friendly diving brethren. The intention is to edify and amuse in roughly equal amounts, although for a guaranteed dose of the latter, I urge you to visit our fave dive instruct-or's blog.

I hope you all managed to catch BBC2's recent documentary on human physiology at depth, To Boldly Go. If not, guide your restless mouse fingers over to Dr Kevin Fong's very watchable programme on how our species' implacable urge to explore has driven us to overcome our physiological limitations, and descend to quite remarkable depths. It contained some great footage of oxygen toxicity, saturation diving and the effect of 5 atmospheres on a glass of champagne (or was it Prosecco - BBC budget cuts are clearly biting!) Having known Kevin for several years, I was able to forgive his use of the split infinitive in the title, particularly as he managed to explain some quite complex physiological concepts in a clear and entertaining way. Plus he recommended his wedding photographer to me, who did an exceptional job at my recent nuptials. So give the good doc a viewing and allow him to properly demystify the raptures and perils of the deep - see what I did there?


Dr Oliver Firth
Comments on this post:

I read an article on wether it was safe to dive having obstructed sleep apnea. Funny because I was actually looking for information on wether long term diving could actually contribute to the disorder ? I was a working diver for 9 years with the us navy UCT. I have always been healthy(not fat) Never snored nor does it run In my large family.5 years in and I snored to the point that I clear a room at night. Never. Thought much of it,allot of peaple snore. I took a sleep study just for the hell of it. I stop breathing60 to 80 time in an hour! Can you point me in the right direction for info? The web can be such a vortex of information

Mike James

Interesting. Most dive docs have come across the odd patient with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) who want to dive, but whether diving itself can contribute to OSA? That's a question I've not come across. Some swift Googling hasn't shown up much, and to be honest I can't think of a plausible mechanism through which diving would make OSA more likely.

In the UK, a study called ELTHI looked at the long term effects of diving in commercial divers, and found that three complaints were more common, when compared with non-diving offshore workers: 'forgetfulness or loss of concentration', 'joint pain or muscle stiffness' and 'impaired hearing'. There was little difference in lung function between divers and non-divers in this study, even when confounders such as smoking were taken into account.

I'd be interested to hear whether your respiratory physician feels there is any connection, but I don't know of any evidence myself.

Dr Oliver Firth

I to was a Navy UCT Diver for 5 years. In great shape, don't snore, no family history of apnea and have now been diagnosed and sent home with a CPAP machine. I am also wondering if my dive history has something to do with the apnea. Several other friends in the Dive community have the same story.

Joe Southwell

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