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How should cervical collars be used?

Cervical collars alone do not provide adequate in-line immobilization. Cervical collars DO NOT immobilize the cervical spine. Cervical collars keep the head in a neutral position. Too large of a cervical collar will hyperextend the head/neck, and too small of a cervical collar will hyperflex the head/neck and cause further injury. Cervical collars must under no circumstances be used in isolation. Collars must be used with other immobilization equipment/devices such as spine board head blocks/rolled blanket/sandbags. Certain athletic equipment (IE: helmet and shoulder pads) prevent use of cervical collar. Authors Houghton L & Driscoll P, 1999, UK found collars prevented movement by 31-45% and head blocks with straps prevent 58-64% and the addition of head blocks and a collar provided no additional benefit.

(This answer provided for NATA by Scot Raab, PhD, ATC, LAT.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.