The two key reasons for moving someone with a spinal injury are: to turn the person onto her back in order to resuscitate her; and move her into the recovery position if she is unconscious and in a position that does not allow her to maintain a clear airway.
The best position for a person with a suspected neck or spinal injury is the neutral position. Here the head is in line with the neck and spine. To move a person into the neutral position, do not give up this support until medical help arrives to take over from you.
Only use this technique if you have been trained to do so.
One of the most effective ways of turning a person over is the log roll technique. Log roll can also be used to turn somebody with the spinal injury onto her side as an alternative to the recovery position. It is also commonly used to move people with other injuries, such as broken leg or pelvis, onto a stretcher or blanket.
Ideally, six people should used to carry out this technique, with one person taking the lead and control of the head.
- Place your hands over the ears with your fingers along the chin. Hold the head in the neutral position.
- Ask the supporters to gently move the arms to the side of the body and move the legs together.
- Ask the supporters to support the spine and limbs and to follow your commands.
- Roll the victim like a log, keeping the head and chin inline with the neck and spine.
If you are by yourself and the injured person is not breathing, do not waste time searching for help. Turn the person as carefully as you can with any help available to you.
- Do not give anything to eat or drink—the victim may need a general anesthetic in hospital.
- Do not move the victim unless he is in danger or needs resuscitation.
This is a common neck injury, particularly after car accidents. It accompanies a sudden impact accident when the person is wearing a seat belt and results from head being thrown backward and forward violently. Whiplash is best described as a neck sprain. It is an injury to the soft tissue in the neck and can result in the need for long-term physical therapy and the use of a neck collar. Whiplash may not appear until hours or even days after the injury.
It is difficult to distinguish whiplash from spinal cord damage and a broken neck because the signs, symptoms, and potential causes are very similar and the pain of the whiplash injury may be masking other, more serious, problems. For this reason, whiplash should be treated in the same way as other spinal injuries until professional medical staff rule out more serious damage.
SPINAL INJURY RECOVERY POSITION
Alternatively, you can use the log roll technique
- Support the victim’s head as described. Make yourself comfortable, because you will have to continue to do this until the ambulance arrives.
- Ask a bystander to put the arm nearest the victim’s shoulder gently underneath the victim’s body, ensuring that the fingers are flat and the elbow straight. Bring the furthest arm across the body. The first responder must support the face.
- The victim’s furthest leg should be bent upward and the bystander’s arm placed on the thigh just above the knee.
- Working under orders from the first responder at the head, the victim should be gently turned, ensuring that the head, trunk, and toes stay in line.
- Once the victim has been turned over, the neck should continue to be supported while the bystander ensures that the victim is stable, either by supporting the body himself or by placing coats or rolled-up blankets, for example, around the victim.