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Potential Fifty Percent Reduction in Saturation Diving Decompression Time Using a Combination of Intermittent Recompression and ExerciseConventional saturation decompression protocols use linear decompression rates that become progressively slower at shallower depths, consistent with free gas phase control vs. dissolved gas elimination kinetics. If decompression is limited by control of free gas phase, linear decompression is an inefficient strategy. The NASA prebreathe reduction program demonstrated that exercise during O2 prebreathe resulted in a 50% reduction (2 h vs. 4 h) in the saturation decompression time from 14.7 to 4.3 psi and a significant reduction in decompression sickness (DCS: 0 vs. 23.7%). Combining exercise with intermittent recompression, which controls gas phase growth and eliminates supersaturation before exercising, may enable more efficient saturation decompression schedules. A tissue bubble dynamics model (TBDM) was used in conjunction with a NASA exercise prebreathe model (NEPM) that relates tissue inert gas exchange rate constants to exercise (ml O2/kg-min), to develop a schedule for decompression from helium saturation at 400 fsw. The models provide significant prediction (p < 0.001) and goodness of fit with 430 cases of DCS in 6437 laboratory dives for TBDM (p = 0.77) and with 22 cases of DCS in 159 altitude exposures for NEPM (p = 0.70). The models have also been used operationally in over 25,000 dives (TBDM) and 40 spacewalks (NEPM). The standard U.S. Navy (USN) linear saturation decompression schedule from saturation at 400 fsw required 114.5 h with a maximum Bubble Growth Index (BGI(sub max)) of 17.5. Decompression using intermittent recompression combined with two 10 min exercise periods (75% VO2 (sub peak)) per day required 54.25 h (BGI(sub max): 14.7). Combined intermittent recompression and exercise resulted in a theoretical 53% (2.5 day) reduction in decompression time and theoretically lower DCS risk compared to the standard USN decompression schedule. These results warrant future decompression trials to evaluate the efficacy of this approach.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Gernhardt, Michael I. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Abercromby, Andrew (Wyle Labs., Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Conklin, Johnny (Universities Space Research Association Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2007
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Meeting Information
2007 Undersea and Hyperabaric Medical Society(Dunkirk, MD)
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