Suspension syndrome (also known as suspension intoxication or orthostatic intolerance) is a potentially life-threatening condition, caused by hanging motionless (e.g., immediately following an injury) for an extended period in a harness.


  • In humans, blood is pumped through the body by movement and the resulting pressure of the muscles on the veins (skeletal- muscle pump), back to the heart.
  • While hanging motionless in a harness, blood can ‘pool’ in the arms and legs. The muscle pump doesn’t work, and this can lead to serious circulatory problems and a lack of oxygen to the brain.


  • It should be assumed that by motionless hanging, permanent damage can occur even after only 10 minutes.
  • A person must be released from the hanging position (carefully) within max. 20 minutes.


Rescue personnel should be notified of a possible suspension syndrome and alerted to the possibility of recovering a fatality.


When the vital functions of the casualty allow, keep the upper body elevated.