The Backboard is now an Endangered Species
Over the course of the previous months, sweeping changes have been brought upon EMS protocols across the nation regarding spinal immobilization. Backboards, which have been thought to be key components in the protection of an injured patient’s nervous system, are slowly being removed from the world of first response. Our understanding of this form of spinal immobilization has been altered significantly, as multiple studies show that these devices pose more harm to a patient than benefit.
The typical image of a motor vehicle accident is a mangled car coupled with a patient restrained to a backboard, head between bright-orange blocks, with his neck secured with a cervical collar. This may become an illustration of the past, as new protocols state that only cervical collars are necessary to protect a patient’s spinal cord.
This massive change should be very beneficial to patients in the future. The abandonment of “backboarding” should produce shorter transport time to hospitals, diminish spinal injuries, and provide a much more comfortable experience for a patient in transport.
For further information regarding these policy changes as well as some of the research behind them, please refer to the following sources.
Research Suggests Time for Change in Prehospital Spinal Immobilization. Journal of EMS. 2013
The North Carolina Office of EMS. Protocols: Selective Spinal Motion Restriction.
Patients Immobilized with a Long Spine Board Rarely Have Unstable Thoracolumbar Injuries
Brian M. Clemency , Joseph A. Bart , Abhigyan Malhotra , Taylor Klun , Veronica Campanella , Heather A. Lindstrom
Prehospital Emergency Care
Vol. 20, Iss. 2, 2016