Pre-hospital Management of Spinal Injuries: Backboard Myths

Spine Board Myths

  1. The Backboard should not be used as a therapeutic intervention. Achieving full spinal immobilization is not possible and its use has been shown to cause patient harm and no benefit. Instead, spinal motion restriction should be practiced.
  2. Backboard use has been shown to cause increased pressure ulcers, decreased respiratory function, increased back pain, and result in a false-positive midline vertebral tenderness. This can result in unnecessary testing, radiation exposure and medical costs.
  3. Penetrating trauma alone does not increase the risk of cervical spine injury and these patients should never be immobilized.
  4. Attempting spinal motion restriction should not delay life-saving interventions or delay transport to definitive care.
  5. Remove backboards in the emergency department to avoid complications of prolonged, unnecessary immobilization.

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