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Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Feb;29(2):181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2009.08.027. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

Revolutionary advances in enhancing patient comfort on patients transported on a backboard.

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University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA 22903-3363, USA.



Patients with suspected spinal cord injuries are immobilized to a backboard during ambulance and helicopter air transport. It has been well documented that patients who are immobilized to a backboard experience discomfort and eventually become susceptible to pressure ulcer formation. Because the patient lying on a backboard is subjected to high skin interface pressures, it is imperative to improve patient comfort and prevent pressure ulcer formation.


Realizing the dangers of the potentially preventable pressure ulcers, our team of scientists, surgeons, and trauma nurses performed a comprehensive study of the Back Raft system that was designed to reduce patient discomfort and skin interface pressure.


Pressure under the occipital, scapula, and sacral regions of the back was measured using the Tactilus pressure analyzer of 10 healthy volunteers immobilized on a backboard and a backboard with a Back Raft air mattress system. Discomfort levels of each volunteer were measured using a Visual Analog Scale.


Data from this study indicated that the Back Raft significantly reduces discomfort as well as tissue interface pressure in the occipital, scapula, and sacral regions of the back.


The implementation of an air mattress system analogous to the Back Raft would facilitate the prevention of pressure ulcer formation during prehospital care and transportation. In 2008, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enacted a policy in which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can refuse payment for hospital-acquired conditions. Pressure ulcers were among the hospital-acquired conditions within the final rule.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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