Methods for evaluating cervical range of motion in trauma settings
1 Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Glenside Campus, Blackberry Hill, Bristol, UK, BS16 1DD
2 Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Chippenham, UK
Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2012, 20:50 doi:10.1186/1757-7241-20-50Published: 2 August 2012
Immobilisation of the cervical spine is a common procedure following traumatic injury. This is often precautionary as the actual incidence of spinal injury is low. Nonetheless, stabilisation of the head and neck is an important part of pre-hospital care due to the catastrophic damage that may follow if further unrestricted movement occurs in the presence of an unstable spinal injury. Currently available collars are limited by the potential for inadequate immobilisation and complications caused by pressure on the patient’s skin, restricted airway access and compression of the jugular vein. Alternative approaches to cervical spine immobilisation are being considered, and the investigation of these new methods requires a standardised approach to the evaluation of neck movement. This review summarises the research methods and scientific technology that have been used to assess and measure cervical range of motion, and which are likely to underpin future research in this field. A systematic search of international literature was conducted to evaluate the methodologies used to assess the extremes of movement that can be achieved in six domains. 34 papers were included in the review. These studies used a range of methodologies, but study quality was generally low. Laboratory investigations and biomechanical studies have gradually given way to methods that more accurately reflect the real-life situations in which cervical spine immobilisation occurs. Latterly, new approaches using virtual reality and simulation have been developed. Coupled with modern electromagnetic tracking technology this has considerable potential for effective application in future research. However, use of these technologies in real life settings can be problematic and more research is needed.