When emergency situations arise, it is sometimes necessary to treat a patient for injuries and prepare him or her for transport to a medical facility. If a back injury is suspected, a back splint may be used to help stabilize the spine to prevent any further injury or damage. The splint can be made from different materials, and the specific size and function may also vary according to its intended function, but generally, it will need to be fairly rigid and broad to ensure the entire back can be stabilized properly.
When an emergency medical team treats a patient, the members of that team are likely to use a type of back splint more commonly known as a backboard. The backboard is usually made out of a thick, rigid plastic that features openings through which straps can be secured. The straps can then be wrapped around the patient to secure him or her to the backboard in preparation for transport. It is possible to lift the patient by the backboard and place him or her on a gurney that can then be inserted and secured in an ambulance or other specially designed transport.
In emergency situations that occur in the backcountry or far away from available medical personnel, a back splint can be improvised with any rigid, broad material. A piece of plywood, for example, can be used as a back splint, though when choosing materials for the splint, it is important to consider that material's strength as well as its safety for use as a splint. It is generally advisable to use a specially designed splint whenever possible, not only for the safety of the patient, but also for the safety of those treating the patient.
A back brace is a type of back splint that can be used in daily life. This brace is usually not as rigid as a plastic splint, and it will allow for some movement in the back. Such braces are generally used to add support to the back during strenuous activity such as regular lifting or even athletic activities. The brace can also be used to help alleviate back pain; the compression of the unit helps promote blood flow to the lower spine, thereby promoting faster healing and pain relief. Securing the brace is usually done by pressing a hook and loop strap together at the front of the brace.