PADI is committed to making scuba diving accessible to people with disabilities who can meet the standards required for each level of training. We have been a long time supporter of Deptherapy and Deptherapy that seeks to rehabilitate UK and US Armed Service personnel who have suffered life changing mental and or physical challenges. Over the next 10 days we will be running a BLOG about four seriously injured British troops who we are supporting as they start their scuba diving adventure. The intention is they will complete both OW and AOW programmes.
They are being hosted at Roots Luxury Camp in Egypt the home of 5* PADI IDC Centre Pharaoh Dive Club. Owners Steve and Clare Rattle are providing all the facilities free to the troops and have hosted a previous programme. The week organised by Deptherapy’s Trustee John Spencer-Ades of the Scuba Place will get off to a great start as Monarch Airlines have arranged express check-in, extra legroom seats on the plane and a high level of support.
At the same time Richard Cullen, the Head of Operations for e
will be running a Deptherapy Education Professionals’ Course at Roots for a number of PADI professionals to teach them how to teach PADI courses adaptively.
Dean Upson a PADI MSDT and Deptherapy Instructor is himself a former member of the Royal Engineers and suffers from a complex form of chronic PTSD. Dean says “The opportunity these guys are being given is unbelievable, scuba diving has changed my life but especially Deptherapy. Before I met with Richard Cullen I couldn’t stand being anywhere near amputees, my PTSD kicked in. Gently Richard and the team introduced me to amputees on the programme, it was so hard. But I was allowed time out and help was always at hand. Gradually I found I could work with the guys and then socialise with them. It is amazing, the demons are still there but I am starting to control them.”
Richard Cullen says “Deptherapy is family, we work with the guys pre-programme, throughout there PADI courses and then post programme, a real bond exists between those on the programme and the staff team that helps the guys develop in a world outside the armed services”
Chris Middleton, a bi-lateral amputee (both legs) is now a trustee of the charity, Chris who has progressed to PADI AOW and Deep Diver, was blown up 9 days before his 21st birthday. Chris is clear of the benefits of the programme – “Richard Cullen and Deptherapy made me the man I am today.”
Meeting PADI standards can he a huge challenge for those with severe physical injuries for instance Chris and another bi-lateral amputee took 1.5 hours to master the CESA – you try it with no legs and just using one arm for propulsion! Richard highlights the fact that time can be the essence not just with amputees but with those with mental challenges such as Autism, it can take someone who is autistic much longer to master a skill to the standard required – but once learned never forgotten.
Deptherapy pays for people coming on their programme to undergo ‘fit to dive’ medicals with a HSE authorised medical examiner of divers (AMED). This is important both in terms of the injury but also the medications some of those wishing to come on the programme take. Dean says “medication can be the determining factor in fitness to dive and some medications or combination of medications can be contra indicativeto or have a depth limiting condition.” All three programme members will go through a detailed assessment by the Deptherapy team who have the final say regarding ‘dive, no dive.’
The three former soldiers on this programme were passed fully fit to dive; they are Scott who lost one of this legs below the knee when the vehicle he was travelling in hit an IED; Warren, who was shot through the knee (Warren is already a PADI diver but the team want him to go through the whole programme again) and Luke who was in bomb disposal and who lost his leg when an IED exploded.
Deptherapy are working with Cumbria University in regards to the benefits of scuba diving for those suffering with PTSD Research in the USA has already shown a reduction of 85% in reported symptoms amongst veterans who undertook a scuba diving programme.
Roots has fully disabled accessible rooms for the guys to use. A real example of PADI working with its dive centres and instructors to improve the lives of those with disabilities
Dr Richard Cullen OSt.J; MA; Chartered FCIPD; CMgr FCMI
Founder and Operations and Media Deptherapy Education
UK Deptherapy Education Representative
Deptherapy Education Instructor Trainer
PADI IDCS 260748
EFR Instructor Trainer