Attention Deficit Disorder

This brain disorder, usually recognized early in life, is manifested by an inability to concentrate or sustain attention. It may or may not be accompanied by physical hyperactivity. ADD is a significant (but over-diagnosed) cause of learning disability. The problem usually improves with age.

Fitness & Diving:
At its worst, ADD can be so pronounced as to prevent a prospective student from learning the simple skills necessary for safety. This could present a significant hazard in many areas, including both driving and scuba diving. ADD is usually not that intense, however. Fitness to dive can best be assessed by looking at social, school, athletic and job performance.

Note that because some ADD patients take medications, they should consider the potential impact of medications while diving.

Medication Used in Treatment:
No testing has ever been done to determine interactions between high partial pressures of nitrogen and the medications used to treat attention deficit disorder. Two drugs currently in use are Ritalinr (methphenidate) and Dexedriner (dextroamphetamine). Both are heavy-duty stimulants that leave most adults "wired." However, they often have a calming and somewhat paradoxical effect on children with attention deficient disorder. This desirable effect is less apparent as children grow older.

(Hugh Greer MD, Alert Diver, May-June 1999.)