Is full pre-hospital spinal immobilisation best for the patient? A review of current controversies

Spinal immobilisation has long been an accepted part of pre-hospital care. There is, however, a lack of evidence that spinal immobilisation is effective in reducing spinal cord injury (SCI). The aim of this article is to review a broad range of literature in relation to spinal immobilisation and consider some of the current controversies.Despite a lack of high-quality research, following a comprehensive literature search, 13 pieces of primary research and 4 pieces of secondary research were identified. The literature identified a number of potential controversies relating to the principal effectiveness of immobilisation, side effects of immobilisation and patient outcome in comparison to non-immobilised patients. Given these areas of controversy, many of which are of fundamental importance, it seems logical that further high-quality research is required to establish whether spinal immobilisation is effective or otherwise.

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