The long spine board does not reduce lateral motion during transport--a randomized healthy volunteer crossover trial

Am J Emerg Med. 2016 Apr;34(4):717-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2015.12.078. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Objective: For thirty years, emergency medical services agencies have emphasized limiting spinal motion during transport of the trauma patient to the emergency department. The long spine board (LSB) has been the mainstay of spinal motion restriction practices, despite the paucity of data to support its use. The purpose of this study was to determine reduction in lateral motion afforded by the LSB in comparison to the stretcher mattress alone.

Methods: This was a randomized controlled crossover trial where healthy volunteer subjects were randomly assigned to either LSB or stretcher mattress only. All subjects were fitted with a rigid cervical collar, secured to the assigned device (including foam head blocks), and driven on a closed course with prescribed turns at a low speed (<20 mph). Upon completion, the subjects were then secured to the other device and the course was repeated. Each subject was fitted with 3 graduated-paper disks (head, chest, hip). Lasers were affixed to a scaffold attached to the stretcher bridging over the patient and aimed at the center of the concentric graduations on the disks. During transport, the degree of lateral movement was recorded during each turn. Significance was determined by t test.

Results: In both groups, the head demonstrated the least motion with 0.46±0.4-cm mattress and 0.97±0.7-cm LSB (P≤ .0001). The chest and hip had lateral movement with chest 1.22±0.9-cm mattress and 2.22±1.4-cm LSB (P≤ .0001), and the hip 1.20±0.9-cm mattress and 1.88±1.2-cm LSB (P≤ .0001), respectively. In addition, lateral movement had a significant direct correlation with body mass index.

Conclusion: The stretcher mattress significantly reduced lateral movement during transport.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Head / physiology
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Spinal Injuries
  • Torso / physiology
  • Transportation of Patients / methods*