Disabilities are an ancient concept that have existed for as long as people have existed. A disability is often viewed as an unending burden, and people with disabilities have often been viewed as victims of circumstances, tragic figures whom society should pity.
Despite great progress in medicine, the prevalence of disabilities in communities all over the world is still significant.
The difficulties faced by people with disabilities are multiple, considering aspects starting from biological defects and deficits in the locomotor system through the mental sphere and the acceptance of their status to social aspects of the functioning of the disabled in a community and staying open to the surrounding world.
The manner in which an individual affected by an illness or a disability deals with everyday life is different for each person. What influences the attempt to adapt oneself to a new situation is not only the degree and type of disability but, also, personality, family background or the financial situation of the individual concerned.
Due to the multiplicity of factors that come into play, it is difficult to predict the time and manner in which individuals adapt to a new situation. What is well-known, however, is the fact that proper and comprehensive rehabilitation plays a key role in the improvement of one’s condition and adaptation to disability.
Comprehensibility, referred to above, must be reflected in proper medical care, including continuous and personalised medical rehabilitation, as well as in the support granted by organisations for individuals with similar problems.
In addition, it is also important to educate society in order to reduce the barriers resulting from the lack of awareness and knowledge of disability-related issues.
Quite recently, diving has become a fashionable, prestigious and very interesting spare time activity. Diving may be treated as a multidimensional therapy in water, which allows people with and without disabilities to share common activities.
Such rehabilitation involves comprehensive stimulation of the human body by social interactions through participation in classes, as well as by influencing the mental and physical spheres. Classes taking place in water and diving help to break the barriers resulting from being in a new environment, i.e., water, to regain the awareness of one’s own body and movements that one can make, feel the position of one’s own body, feel the possibility to give directions to movements and benefit from being able to increase independence in water.
The aquatic environment enables the relaxation of muscles, which, as a consequence, may have a positive effect on spasticity and increase the joint range of motion often significantly limited in the natural environment.
In short, it enables improve movement and coordination in a way that is much easier than in a terrestrial environment. Such exercises have a positive effect on the respiratory system and blood circulation as a result of learning how to breathe correctly.
An individual who takes up diving has got an opportunity to learn and demonstrate independence by taking care of her/his own safety, as well as the safety of her/his companions. Diving encourages you to spend time with other people and, thus, gives an opportunity to be in a group whose members are people without disabilities, as well as people with locomotor system dysfunctions, giving the sense of affiliation with a group and responsibility for its members.
Diving may eliminate the limitations resulting from disabilities it often enables people with disabilities to exceed the possibilities of their able-bodied peers who report average levels of physical activity. The awareness of being a disabled person doing something unusual helps the disabled feel exceptional, which facilitates the process of accepting one’s own status.
However, one should not forget the possible hazards and risks entailed in scuba diving. Apart from the initial health condition, the factors having influence on human body include pressure under water, breathing gas, temperature, type of diving environment, mental barriers and possible problems with the equipment.
People with and without disabilities must obey the rules applicable to diving, be aware of hazards and strive to overcome problems connected to this kind of activity. In addition, people with disabilities must consider their own dysfunctions, which may impact their preparations for diving and moving underwater.
Furthermore, such dysfunctions may make the use of the scuba diving equipment more difficult or affect communication. What may help in such situations is the modification of the essential equipment and its adaptation to the needs of each diver with disabilities. People helping or assisting in diving may also provide valuable support. They may be responsible for supervising the equipment of disabled individuals and for all the actions that they cannot perform. To communicate with the assistants, a certain method of communication needs to be established and then modified, if necessary, and adapted to one’s requirements.