Malcolm Maddox: All morning long we’ve been talking about things like the boating forecast and the unofficial start of summer, because a lot of individuals will be taking advantage of the warmer weather, enjoying the pools and lakes all throughout our area. It can be a very exciting time for children and even adults who absolutely love the water, but it can also be very dangerous. Joining us to talk about some of the things we need to keep in mind, especially as we’re near the water, is Polly Swingle, the co-CEO and lead physical therapist of The Recovery Project in Livonia. Polly, thank you for joining us.
Polly Swingle: Thank you for having me.
MM: What are some of the most common injuries you see?
PS: At The Recovery Project every summer, we see a lot of injuries due to water accidents. A lot of them are neck injuries, and some of the more severe are spinal cord injuries. Or a head injury, where children or adults have diving accidents, near drowning or fatal accidents, as well as a lot of boating accidents.
MM: How common is it that young people are near water without the ability to swim?
PS: That’s very, very common. For children between the ages of one and four, that’s one of the most common reasons why they go into the hospital, or they have fatal accidents, because they are unable to swim.
MM: What demographic in particular do you see that tends to take more risks in the water and unfortunately is more susceptible to the worst that can happen?
PS: In the summertime we see a lot of swimming, diving and boating accidents, and typically a lot of that population is male. About 80 percent of water accidents are males between the ages of 15 and 30. Typically it’s because that age group feels a little invincible, they’re a little risky, a lot more active.
MM: So what precautions should we take in order to limit our exposure to these types of injuries?
PS: First of all, every parent or adult must watch when a child is near the water. Anything can happen in one to two seconds, so it’s crucial that you always have an eye on the children in the pool. Second, you always need to know the depth of the pool or the depth of the lake. You should never dive into anything less than six feet deep. You should also be able to see the bottom of the pool or the lake. So if it’s murky and you can’t see the bottom, don’t dive into it. You’ll have obstacles sometimes in the bottom of a lake, or something that if you dive in and hit your head you could really, really hurt yourself.
MM: And of course a lot of jet skiers and boaters will be out there. What type of problems do you see with the jet skiers?
PS: Jet ski accidents can be fatal or very catastrophic. And the reason is because you’re going very fast and you’re not very well protected. So it’s really important that you wear a life jacket, and that you don’t drink alcohol. 90 percent of the accidents that we see with watercraft are due to drinking. And it’s also important that you observe what’s happening around the water, that you know where boats are, tubers are, swimmers are and skiers are so you can avoid them.
The Recovery Project provides aggressive, focused and effective physical and occupational therapy and training to people with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and other neurological disorders. Through personalized therapy programs designed and administered by highly trained and compassionate staff, utilizing the latest evidence-based research and state-of-the-art equipment at accessible locations in Livonia, Mich., and Macomb, Mich., The Recovery Project produces hope and life-changing results for clients and their support networks. For more information, visit www.therecoveryproject.net.