Respiratory effects of spinal immobilization in children

Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Sep;20(9):1017-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)82983-x.


Study objective: To assess the restrictive effects of two spinal immobilization strapping techniques on the respiratory capacity of normal, healthy children.

Design: Prospective study with each subject serving as his own control.

Participants: Fifty-one healthy children 6 to 15 years old.

Interventions: Participants' forced vital capacity (FVC) measurements were first obtained with children standing and lying supine and then in full spinal immobilization using two different strapping configurations, cross straps and lateral straps. Straps were tightened to allow one hand to fit snugly between the strap and child.

Measurements and main results: Supine FVC was less than upright FVC (P less than .001). FVC in spinal immobilization ranged from 41% to 96% of supine FVC (80 +/- 9%). There was no difference in FVCs between strapping techniques (P = .83).

Conclusion: Spinal immobilization significantly reduced respiratory capacity as measured by FVC in healthy patients 6 to 15 years old. There is no significant benefit of one strapping technique over the other.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Injuries / therapy*
  • Supination
  • Vital Capacity*