The Health and Safety Executive have released a report on recent research into suspension trauma.
Movement aids blood flow around our body, but standing still for a long time can result in blood pooling in our lower limbs and occasionally lead to fainting. Think of a guardsman keeling over during a parade.
Fainting is the body's natural response, as in a horizontal position the heart can circulate blood on its own, redressing the balance of any pooling.
Suspension Trauma is what happens if the body stays upright after becoming unconscious, such as if in a harness. The already reduced blood flow can lead to serious brain and organ damage, and even death.
Recent HSE research, 'Following [the] completion of an evidence based review of published medical literature on the effects of a fall triggering harness suspension, [the] HSE confirms that no change should be made to the standard first aid guidance for the post recovery of a semi conscious or unconscious person in a horizontal position, even if the subject of prior harness suspension.'
The full HSE report can be downloaded here.
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Health and Safety Executive