Scuba for life

Scuba gym hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Scuba gym hyperbaric oxygen therapy.(Ivanhoe Newswire)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 7:24 AM CDT
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WINTER GARDEN, Fla. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - More than five and a half million people are living with paralysis in the United States. 25 million suffer from a neurological disorder. One in 44 children is diagnosed each year with autism. Treatments for all three vary drastically, but one common treatment is hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

It involves exposure to 100 percent oxygen, two to three times the normal air pressure. Study after study shows it can help the quality of life for people suffering from these serious conditions. But it’s expensive, and it’s not often covered by insurance. But now, one couple has found an alternative, and the results have been unbelievable.

“My son had a brain tumor when he was 11. When they took it out, it left him paralyzed from the neck down. They said he would be in remedial classes the rest of his life.” Kimberly Lawrence Co-Founder of the Scuba Gym informed us. In fact, her son David Junior was told he would never walk again, but his mom and dad were determined to find a way.

David’s dad, David Lawrence Founder of the Scuba Gym said, “It was a need for him to walk again and live life again.”

When insurance wouldn’t pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, they turned to this. Scuba diving mimics the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Which studies have shown reduces inflammation and restores blood flow to the spinal cord.

Lawrence explained, “I couldn’t move anything…where I am now, I walk. I run. I dive.” Within a year, David Junior, still technically paralyzed, was walking. That’s when David and Kimberly knew they needed to help others.

“I can’t stand up without falling over,” said Craig Dorris, a 72–years-old member of the Scuba Gym. Diagnosed with a neurological disorder, Craig hasn’t walked in eight years, but under 12 feet of water, he can walk. He says, “I think coming here is keeping me in touch with the bottom of my feet.”

Tyler Barnes a 21-year-old member expressed, “I had an issue with my legs. Yes. Where muscle refused to develop. Scuba, this definitely helped get my muscle going.”

Scuba therapy allows people to increase strength and flexibility in a weightless environment. It’s also proven to help people with mental and developmental disorders, like Benjamin Engles 18-years -old, do what he likes most, “Lifting some weights and throwing watermelon balls.” Benjamin is able to find something underwater that he can’t do anywhere else.

Benjamin’s dad, Kain Engles told us, “Everything slows down for him.”

“With autism, it generally lowers anxieties. It helps them focus better and sleep better. However, it has a residual effect, so it lasts usually about seven to ten days,” stated Kimberly.

With more than 100 diving volunteers, the scuba gym has helped thousands of people with special needs with locations in Florida, North Carolina, and Sydney, Australia. They hope to keep expanding.

Craig mentioned, “It changes my life. Down there on the bottom, I can stand up, walk around, bend over, and pick something up. It’s the most euphoric feeling in the world.”

By the way, David and Kimberly’s son, David junior, who was told he would be in remedial classes for the rest of his life, is graduating this May from college with a double major in chemistry and computational mathematics.

The scuba gym is approved by the state of Florida as a provider of therapy for people who have disabilities. Besides their daily therapy sessions, they hold several camps each summer. The scuba gym is a not-for-profit, and they raise their money through their dive shop and dive programs. You can find out more here.

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