DAN Dispatch: DAN Research Update

By Grant Dong and Rhiannon Brenner

AS DIVERS JUMP INTO ANOTHER BUSY DIVE SEASON, DAN Research is also gearing up to advance our understanding of dive science and medicine. Here is a quick introduction to two flagship studies and information on how you can contribute to diving research and safety.

Bubbles forming in the body after a dive can cause decompression sickness (DCS), a known risk of diving. We use these bubbles, also known as venous gas emboli (VGE), to evaluate decompression stress — even when that diver does not develop DCS — by watching them with an ultrasound device. When following the same dive profile, the number of bubbles can vary from person to person and even within the same individual. DAN Research is interested in understanding the factors that may account for this difference and how they may affect your DCS risk.

We ask study participants to follow a standardized recreational dive profile on six different days across six weeks with no diving for five days in between. DAN researchers will collect ultrasound recordings and other measurements to analyze the differences that may affect the number of bubbles we detect after the dive. If you are interested in participating and are near the DAN headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, please get in touch with DAN Research at  or join one of our 30-minute information meetings at calendly.com/ftillmans/dan-bubble-study to talk with our team.

Another study will focus on measuring changes in cognitive performance in divers who perform repetitive and demanding dives, such as harvesting lionfish or lobster. Divers hunting underwater can become task loaded, which reduces our awareness and performance when attempting to deal with multiple demanding tasks simultaneously. When the task demands are greater than our ability to deal with them, we can forget important safety practices, such as frequently checking our gas supply or remaining in contact with a dive buddy. By understanding how task-loaded dives affect the cognitive capabilities of divers, DAN can more effectively develop safety guidelines and understand how to reduce human errors while diving.

We will ask participants in this study to dive as they usually would, take a few cognitive tests and questionnaires, and provide other measurements before and after each dive. If you or your team are interested in having DAN Research join your charter for this study over the summer, please reach out to DAN Research at  with the dates and locations you will dive and the charter with which you plan on diving.

DAN Research relies on the generosity of divers like you to help us advance our understanding of dive science. Please visit our page at DAN.org/research-reports to learn more about our past research, other ongoing studies, and how you can be a part of making diving safer for all. AD


Another study will focus on measuring changes in cognitive performance in divers who perform repetitive and demanding dives, such as harvesting lionfish or lobster.

© Alert Diver — Q3 2022

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