By Kate Hunger
David Wampler, Ph.D., emergency health sciences associate professor has long suspected that using long spine boards to transport spine injured trauma patients isn't the best method. He and his research team are working to determine the best position to protect trauma patients' spines during transportation.
The team received the Research of the Year Award in October at the EMS World Expo and will present another component of their data in January at the annual meeting of the National Association of EMS Physicians.
Spine boards were developed decades ago to move unconscious victims of car crashes but became the standard protocol for all trauma patients, even those without spine injuries, Wampler explained.
"It's not a good transport tool once in the ambulance," Wampler explained, "because number one, it doesn't benefit them very much if at all and the potential risks are outweighed by the potential benefits."
Part of a larger research program, the biometric study compared the body movement of nine healthy volunteers using a spine board and a transitional stretcher mattress. The subjects were transported in ten different positions for eight minutes of transport time, with 17 accelerometers placed on different part of their bodies. Researchers were looking to see how much the study participants' heads moved with respect to their bodies.
"When one body part moves more than the other, that creates torque at the neck," Wampler said.
The team found that patients moved less using a stretcher mattress than a long spine board, even when the mattress was angled at 30 degrees.
The research of Wampler and the team from the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council and the UT Health San Antonio Department of Surgery is funded by a Department of Defense grant via the Remote Trauma Outcomes Research Network (Rem TORN).
"It was a team effort to make the work happen," Wampler said. "The entire team deserves credit for the entire award."