Spinal Immobilization in EMS

Traditional Spinal Immobilization vs. new “Spinal Stabilization or Spinal Motion Restriction”... Have you noticed changes in local spinal immobilization procedures? How are athletes immobilized for suspected spine injures during televised athletic events? Local Fire & Rescue providers have seen recent changes to traditional spinal immobilization procedures.

 

Most Wisconsin EMS providers are currently operating under new “spinal stabilization” protocols that many states and the National Registry of EMT’s are slow to transition to.These changes are based on high quality research from the National X-Radiography Utilization Study or NEXUS. Highlights of this study found that traditional spinal immobilization with the use of a rigid long spine board poorly restricts spinal motion and can cause many negative side-effects. Long spine boards have been shown to increase pain, and result in negative effects on ventilation, brain perfusion, and the risk of aspiration. As a result of this research, and protocol changes from our physician medical director, suspected spine injured patients are no longer transported on spine boards. The Town of Raymond is one of the only fire departments in the area that carry a full body vacuum mattress to assist with spinal stabilization procedures. This device has been utilized countless times by our personnel to limit motion and pain.