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Value of a rigid collar: in need of more research and better devices
  1. Mike Smyth1,
  2. Matthew W Cooke2
  1. 1Emergency Care, Birmingham ,Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Warwick Emergency Care and Rehabilitation, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Matthew W Cooke, Warwick Medical School, Gibbett Hill Campus, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; m.w.cooke{at}

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The use of cervical collar, head blocks and tape on a stable surface (such as a long spine board or hospital trolley) has long been accepted as the standard of care for patients with potentially unstable spinal injury. There is, however, scant evidence that supports their use, and there are significant potential risks associated with their use, including aspiration of vomit, difficult airway access, pressure sores and rise in intracranial pressure.1

The majority of studies relating to the clinical effectiveness of rigid collars and head blocks as a means of immobilisation have utilised healthy volunteers, and measure gross movement of head in relation to the shoulders. The recently published study by Holla2 utilises gross measurements in healthy volunteers. The combination of a rigid cervical collar and …

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  • Competing interests MWC is the inventor of a new spinal immobilisation device for which University of Warwick holds the patent.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.