Maximizing comfort and minimizing ischemia: a comparison of four methods of spinal immobilization

Prehosp Emerg Care. Jul-Sep 2000;4(3):250-2. doi: 10.1080/10903120090941281.


Objective: To determine which of four methods of spinal immobilization causes the least ischemic pain.

Methods: A prospective, nonblinded comparative trial was conducted at a statewide emergency medical services training facility using a convenience sample of emergency medical technician students. After lying motionless for 10 minutes, students evaluated each device using a 10-centimeter visual analog scale. Subjective comfort was used as a measure of ischemia.

Results: Comfort scores were significantly different for all methods (F = 101, p < 0.001). A backboard padded with a gurney mattress and eggcrate foam (the equivalent of a spinal rehabilitation bed) caused the least ischemic pain (9.6 cm, 95% CI, 8.9 to 9.8 cm). A backboard padded with a gurney mattress was the second most comfortable device (7.0 cm, 95%/CI, 6.4 to 7.4 cm). A backboard padded with a folded blanket was the third most comfortable (3.3 cm, 95% CI, 2.6 to 4.9 cm). The backboard alone caused the most pain (0.8 cm, 95% CI, 0.7 to 2.1 cm).

Conclusion: Increasing the amount of padding on a backboard decreased the amount of ischemic pain caused by immobilization.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bedding and Linens
  • Beds
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / adverse effects*
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Injuries / therapy*