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Tag Archives: Suspension Trauma

Harness Suspension Trauma

Do you know the importance of having a rescue plan in place?  Harness suspension trauma can be life threatening when a worker sustains a fall.  Educating workers and having a rescue plan in place can prevent this from happening and save lives.  Here are some terms you need to know that related to suspension trauma:

  • Fall Arrest System: A series of equipment components designed to stop the fall of individuals working at heights should they fall.
  • Orthostatic Hypotension: In suspension trauma, this refers to the pooling of blood in the leg veins of a worker that occurs when individuals fall in harnesses, are suspended in confined spaces, etc. and are forced to hang vertically with their legs relaxed (immobilized).
  • Reflow Syndrome: The return of pooled, hypoxic blood and its metabolic byproducts from the extremities to the heart (more about this later).
  • Rescue Death: When related to suspension trauma, this type of death occurs in patients who appear physiologically stable during the rescue and extrication but suddenly die after being freed.
  • Suspension Trauma: Injuries Sustained from being immobilized in a vertical position when the legs are …
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Suspension Trauma Information

Suspension trauma, otherwise known as orthostatic shock, harness hang syndrome, or orthostatic intolerance is caused by the human body being held upright without movement for a long period of time.  A prime example of this is a workers suspended in the air in a harness.  This can cause fatigue, hypoglycemia, hypothermia and in extreme cases traumatic brain injuries.

Symptoms of Suspension Trauma

  • Pallor
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Hypertension
  • Numbness of the legs
  • Fainting
  • Death (lack of oxygen to the brain)

Prevention of Suspension Trauma

If a worker has become suspended in a harness and is still conscious, having something to stand on is helpful because it will allow them to use their leg muscles by pushing against it.  Doing this keeps the blood circulating back to the torso.  It is not recommended that they move their legs in midair.  Although this would keep blood moving from legs to the torso, but eventually if the person tires the legs will begin to pool the blood.

After rescue when someone has been suspended for a long period …
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