The Parachuting Rag-Doll Experiment

Falling from a great height with a parachute is likely to result in lesser injury than falling from a great height without a parachute, suggests a newly published German medical study. The study is:

Does usage of a parachute in contrast to free fall prevent major trauma?: a prospective randomised-controlled trial in rag dolls,” Patrick Czorlich, Till Burkhardt, Jan Hendrik Buhk, Jakob Matschke, Marc Dreimann, Nils Ole Schmidt, Sven Oliver Eicker, European Spine Journal, vol. 25, no. 5, May 2016, pp 1349-1354. (Thanks to Gylfi Ólafsson for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, report:

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first prospective, randomised, and controlled trial that clearly demonstrates that using a parachute prevents major trauma.”


The report’s figure 2, reproduced here, comes with this explanation:

“Frontal volume rendered view giving an overview on the following main findings. R right, L left. a Uninjured rag doll in the parachute group, hash symbol zipper of the peritoneal back, asterisk node of the balloons representing the lungs (dashed line). b (1) brain injury (left cranial balloon ruptured), (2) spine and pelvic injury (LEGO bricks dislocated), (3) severe abdominal and thoracic organ injuries (only 2 of 5 balloons left intact). Please note that the testicular protection unfortunately did not fit the apparently male doll.”