Brain injury expert believes living under pressure is good for your health and may help you live longer
A former US Navy Diver turned biomedical engineer, Joseph Dituri, 55, plans to break the record for the time spent living underwater in an experiment to see if living in a pressurised environment can be beneficial to health.
The associate professor at the University of South Florida is living in an underwater habitat nine metres down in the Florida Keys for 100 days and is undergoing a daily regime of physical and psychological tests to understand the impact of living under pressure.
His nine-square-metre habitat in Key Largo is where the current world record for underwater living was set in 2014 when two academics stayed down for 73 days and is pressurised to 1.65 times atmospheric pressure.
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Dituri said: ‘I designed this study on the traumatic brain injury healing power of pressure. The air pressure down here is exactly the pressure I treat patients on the surface. We know it increases stem cells. At the depth I’m at, you get at least twice the number of circulating stem cells if you only do it for five days.’
It has already been established that telomeres – part of the DNA that protects our chromosomes – are increased in length by as much as 33 per cent during hyperbaric therapy sessions. Dituri believes living under pressure could slow the ageing process. He said: ‘Right now I shooting for 110.’
After 15 days he said: ‘My initial findings are it increases muscle mass. That’s really, really early stuff but I’m telling you, I’m super excited.’
Dr Dituri was a saturation diving officer in the US Navy for 28 years, retiring as a commander in 2012. He then did a PhD in brain injuries looking at how hyperbaric pressure can help in the healing of traumas.
Besides a daily scuba dive along the reef which he likens to going for a walk, he is carrying out an extensive regime of tests and is regularly talking to school children via video links. He expects to come out of the experiment fitter and also slightly shorter.