Emerg Med J 24:237-238 doi:10.1136/emj.2007.046391
  • Review

Suspension trauma

  1. Caroline Lee,
  2. Keith M Porter
  1. Academic Department of Traumatology, West Midlands, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C Lee
 Academic Department of Traumatology, Room 28, Institute of Research & Development, Birmingham Research Park, Vincent Drive, Birmingham B15 2SQ, UK; drcarolinelee{at}
  • Accepted 11 January 2007


Suspension trauma (also known as “harness-induced pathology” or “orthostatic shock while suspended”) is the development of presyncopal symptoms and loss of consciousness if the human body is held motionless in a vertical position for a period of time. It has been described in experiments of personal fall protection, and has been implicated in causes of death in mountaineering accidents, but it seems neither to be widely known about nor to have been presented to the medical profession. This article highlights the potential existence of suspension trauma and suggests that more robust medical research using modern harnesses and healthy volunteers would be beneficial to assess whether this is purely a theoretical risk.


  • Competing interests: None declared.

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