Remaining Cervical Spine Movement Under Different Immobilization Techniques

Published online by Cambridge University 

Davut D. Uzun ,
Matthias K. Jung ,
Jeronimo Weerts ,
Matthias Münzberg ,
Paul A. Grützner ,
David Häske  and
Michael Kreinest



Immobilization of the cervical spine by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel is a standard procedure. In most EMS, multiple immobilization tools are available.

The aim of this study is the analysis of residual spine motion under different types of cervical spine immobilization.


In this explorative biomechanical study, different immobilization techniques were performed on three healthy subjects. The test subjects’ heads were then passively moved to cause standardized spinal motion. The primary endpoints were the remaining range of motion for flexion, extension, bending, and rotation measured with a wireless human motion detector.


In the case of immobilization of the test person (TP) on a straight (0°) vacuum mattress, the remaining rotation of the cervical spine could be reduced from 7° to 3° by additional headblocks. Also, the remaining flexion and extension were reduced from 14° to 3° and from 15° to 6°, respectively. The subjects’ immobilization was best on a spine board using a headlock system and the Spider Strap belt system (MIH-Medical; Georgsmarienhütte, Germany). However, the remaining cervical spine extension increased from 1° to 9° if a Speedclip belt system was used (Laerdal; Stavanger, Norway). The additional use of a cervical collar was not advantageous in reducing cervical spine movement with a spine board or vacuum mattress.


The remaining movement of the cervical spine is minimal when the patient is immobilized on a spine board with a headlock system and a Spider Strap harness system or on a vacuum mattress with additional headblocks. The remaining movement of the cervical spine could not be reduced by the additional use of a cervical collar.