The prehospital management of suspected spinal cord injury: An update

A.O. Oteir, Karen Smith, P.A. Jennings, J.U. Stoelwinder

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2014. Introduction Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious condition that may lead to long-term disabilities placing financial and social burden on patients and their families, as well as their communities. Spinal immobilization has been considered the standard prehospital care for suspected SCI patients. However, there is a lack of consensus on its beneficial impact on patients' outcome. Objective This paper reviews the current literature on the epidemiology of traumatic SCI and the practice of prehospital spinal immobilization. Design A search of literature was undertaken utilizing the online databases Ovid Medline, PubMed, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library. The search included English language publications from January 2000 through November 2012. Results The reported annual incidence of SCI ranges from 12.7 to 52.2 per 1 million and occurs more commonly among males than females. Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) are the major reported causes of traumatic SCI among young and middle-aged patients, and falls are the major reported causes among patients older than 55. There is little evidence regarding the relationship between prehospital spinal immobilization and patient neurological outcomes. However, early patient transfer (8-24 hours) to spinal care units and effective resuscitation have been demonstrated to lead to better neurological outcomes. Conclusion This review reaffirms the need for further research to validate the advantages, disadvantages, and the effects of spinal immobilization on patients' neurological outcomes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)399-402
    JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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