How to strap on a spine board

Updated July 02, 2018

Motor vehicle accidents, diving injuries and other traumatic events can cause damage to the spine and spinal cord. The nerves exiting the spinal cord are responsible for all of the body's movements, including the ability to breathe. It is vitally important to properly handle a person who may have any injury to the spine. There are two main types of spine boards: a short board and a long board. A short board is used for injuries involving only the cervical spine, or neck. A long board can be used for any injury to the spine or trauma injuries involving more than one body part.

Manually stabilise the cervical spine of the injured person while a second person retrieves the backboard and cervical collar. The injured person may be in an upright position if the injury is isolated to his neck, or laying on his back.

Apply the cervical collar and continue to hold the person's spine stable by placing your hands on the outside of the collar.

Position the long board on the ground next to the injured person. Instruct additional helpers to align themselves with the injured person's shoulders and hips.

Follow the lead of the person stabilising the injured person's head. On the count of three, log roll the victim onto one side. Bring the long backboard up to his backside, hold the backboard against his body and, using the count of three, log roll him with the backboard onto the ground. Keep the injured person's body in alignment throughout the process. When using a short backboard, maintain manual stabilisation of the person's cervical spine as the short backboard is placed behind him.

Secure the injured person to the long or short backboard, beginning with the torso. Bring the first strap under his arms, around the board and tighten. Repeat with a strap across the hips and legs on the long backboard. Fill gaps between the board and the sides of the victim's body with rolled towels.

Immobilise the head across the forehead and chin. After the head is secure, manual stabilisation of the neck does not need to continue. The cervical collar must remain in place at all times.

Slide the person's arms under the strap across the pelvis or cross his arms over his chest and secure them loosely together at the wrists with a soft bandage. Lift the board and move it to the desired location following the cues of the rescuer at the head of the backboard.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 rescuers
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About the Author

Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.