Harness Suspension Stress: Narrowing the Focus

James Marc Beverly, Jenna White, Erin Beverly, Trisha VanDusseldorp, McCormick Jeremy McCormick, Micah Zuhl, Jason Williams, Christine Mermier


Harness Suspension Stress (HSS) is defined as the physiological stress resulting from hanging motionless in a harness for a length of time. HSS may produce pain in the legs, numbness, syncope, and has been the subject of debate without much clinical data to support the physiologic explanation for these clinical features. HSS has been reported loosely in peer-reviewed literature. Further, one's predisposition of developing HSS, or subsequent medical ramifications requiring therapy has not been well evaluated. Our knowledge of HSS to this point has been derived mostly from expert opinion and case reports over the last 50 years. A rise in manufacturer development of fall protection equipment, including the use of harnesses, has resulted in increased regulative preventative measures, rescue techniques, and postulations for medical care. Other syndromes have been associated with the effects of HSS, but the constellation of symptoms reported for HSS are inconsistent with any other set of well- established existing medical syndromes, leaving a gap in understanding of the overall etiology and pathogenesis of HSS. This review aims to examine possible factors that may help qualify or quantify a series of measurable signs or symptoms that may establish HSS as its own syndrome, or if pre-dispositional factors may play a role that could be of clinical or practical use.


Harness stress syndrome, hang syndrome, climbing, orthostatic intolerance, safety harness

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12922/jshp.v5i1.103


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