Everything there is to know about backboards 

The most common device used by ambulance staff and rescuers for carrying victims, especially in pre-hospital trauma care, is the backboard. The significant advantage of using these beams is to support the anatomy of a person who has gone through severe wounds. For example, spinal boards supply support to the backbone during injuries of the spine. 

The use of the gadget has revolutionized the EMS practices since it provides a safe method for moving the body and is also used to stabilize the frame before taking the patient to the sanatorium. In doing so, the workers must determine the need to immobilize the frame, then apply the cervical collar, roll the body on them as a single unit, initiate strapping the course, and then start to secure the head, arms, and hands before showing any movement. 

History of backboards

In the past, people used the slabs of woods covered with straps of nylon, leather, and sinew to fix the body of the victim. With time, there were modifications to this. Early boards were poorly sealed, and they were also porous. Old forms include the Parr backboards and The Henley boards, a 1913 invention by Henley. Farrington was the first to give the idea of placing cervical collars necessary to keep the neck at its correct position. 

With the spread of HIV, plastic frames quickly became very commonly used. The first one invented was the Ferno aluminum backboard, which worked great and was easy to carry in the ambulances. Those made of plastic comprised of two-piece plastic with acrylic runners. ABS plastic was also the earliest form, but it was cumbersome and difficult to carry, just like the runners' boards, known as aluminum runners. Then they were developed with rational molding. 

The brand-new form includes the sticks inside the plastic channels so that there is contact between ductile and the board's bars. It has improved wear, and it has firm bonding. The latest example is Hartwell CombicarrierII, which is durable, functional, and adaptable. 

Indications to use backboards

The primary use of the backboard is to provide stability to a person suffering from severe injuries. It is useful in immobilizing patients suffering from spinal pain, blunt trauma, motor weakness, and any anatomical deformity of the spine. Victims of trauma penetrating to the neck, the head should be immobilized as well. 

They are also useful for those who remain in emergency departments. The backboards stay on them until their backbone gets cleared by radiography. 

Similarly, moving the patients to bed after suffering from a spinal injury is possible through the slide boards. These boards can lower the patient's forced vital capacity, forced mid expiratory flow, and forced expiratory volume. Those patients suffering from injuries of their chest wall and lungs can also be severely affected because it can obstruct the respiratory mechanics. The straps can cause breathing problems for them; therefore, these straps are often removed. 

Complications of using backboards 

The overuse of backboards can be very painful. An experiment was executed to check its complications, during which a person with no back agony developed severe back pain after lying down for 30 minutes and developed additional symptoms within 38 hours.

Other problems include occipital and lumbosacral strain. Similarly, cervical collars and immobilization can also affect the mouth opening by 30 to 35%. This means that it can cause airway obstruction as immobilization of the spine causes restrictions during respiration. 

Also, adults with heart failure can suffer from respiratory distress after putting them on longboards. The extensive use of this can increase the frequency of thoracolumbar imaging. 

Backboards are rigid, so they cannot provide much comfort to the patient's body and may develop pressure sores. The pain is not limited to those areas which come in contact with these boards. Hurt can be initiated due to incorrect positioning, such as cervical discomfort and pain in the lower back. With time, the suffering can be spread all over the body. 

Similarly, they may develop occipital and sacral contact pressures. Significant high pressure can cause tissue necrosis and the development of pressure ulcers. 

People who have a reasonable level of consciousness, no spine tenderness, no distracting injury, and no intoxication do not require the use of backboards. If such people get exposed to long backboards, they can suffer from immobilization and numbness in the body. Therefore, the overuse of backboards is restricted. They should only be used in case of a severe problems. 

Alternative instruments

A vacuum- mattress splint can be used as an alternative instrument as it is more comfortable, has fewer chances of developing pressure injuries, and can do effective immobilization of a person. 

General specifications of backboards

There are different shapes of backboards, and they can be flat or curved. Similarly, plastic and aluminum backboards are also available in the market. However, we are going to cite the general specifications:




WEIGHT: 14 lbs.


How they work

The backboards are useful in the pre-hospital phase. These are the steps that should be followed:

  1. Firstly, immobilize the patient
  2. Apply cervical collar 
  3. Roll the victim on it as a single unit
  4. Start strapping
  5. Secure the head of the patient 
  6. Then secure the arms and hands 

Market Leaders

Longboards, long spine boards, and spine boards are available in the market. The best brands selling them are:

  • Mjm international 600-h
  • Dixie ems
  •  Hhao technology
  • Saikang
  • Pvs first aid. 

The best and advanced types include:

  • CJ plastic backboards
  • Iron duck black ultra-spinal immobilization
  • Dealmed spine board with pins
  • CJ wooden backboard 
  • Ferno Pedi-mate plus


There were many problems solved by the creation of backboards. During early times, people were using slabs of woods, which were quite uncomfortable; therefore, there were modifications to facilitate them. 

Early wooden boards were not noteworthy because they were porous and allowed bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens to grow. Therefore, the plastic boards are non-porous, anti-bacterial coating, and slow down the growth of pathogens. On the other hand, plastic spine boards have many advantages like the high strength of the board, capacity for bacterial, bloodborne, and viral pathogens. Also, plastic boards are easier to clean, and they are easier to disinfect after once being used. They provide a high comfort level to the patients as well as to the medical professionals. They cause less back pain and provide less pressure.