Friday, 8 November 2013


More research is needed.
Think before you jump

Ten years ago following research review was published in the British Medical Journal. Here is its formal Abstract –


Objectives To determine whether parachutes are effective in preventing major trauma related to gravitational challenge
Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials
Data sources Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases; appropriate internet sites and citation lists.
Study selection Studies showing the effects of using a parachute during free fall
Main outcome measure Death or major trauma, defined as an injury severity score > 15
Results We were unable to identify any randomised controlled trials of parachute intervention

To read the full article you can take out a free, fortnight's trial subscription of the BMJ at:

I had a lot else to think about in 2003, but I do recall the widespread interest and discussion resulting from this article at the time. It has since become something of a classic.

Anyone in Conductive Education who considers getting involved with questions to do with outcome evaluation ought to be aware of this – and sample some at least of the arguments (on both sides) made in response, for example:

Thank you to Heike Fabig and Lisa Gombinski for reminding of all this.


Smith, C. S., Pell, J. P. (2003) Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials, British Medical Journal, 327,1459-1461, 20 December



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