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How Does Vacuum Mattress Help In Spinal Immobilization

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A 50 year old woman happened to meet with a road traffic accident. Thus, she was paralyzed on a long spinal board. On arriving the emergency department she was complaining of slight low back pain. She was very uncomfortable on the board and demanded for the immediate removal. This makes us wonder whether a vacuum mattress is more comfortable? Does it provide better degree of immobilization?? What is vacuum mattress for spinal immobilisation and how does it work? Read on….

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What is vacuum mattress?

Also termed as vacmat. This vacuum mattress is used for the immobilization of patients suffering from vertebra and limb trauma. Also, this vacuum mattress for spinal immobilisation can replace the stretcher. Thus, it can be useful for manual transportation of the affected persons to short distances.

A vacuum mattress for spinal immobilisation includes-

  • A vacuum mattress
  • A rigid cervical collar
  • A stretcher placed under it

Vacmat consists of a sealed polymer bag which encompasses small polystyrene balls (with a valve, straps and handles etc). This is washable and also invisible to the X-rays.

How to use Vacuum mattress – Instructions

This vacuum mattress is placed on a stretcher and the patient is moved on this bed. Then, the sides of the mattress are shaped around the patient. After this, the air is passed through the valve and it is shut. The added pressure pushes the balls together making the mattress hard and rigid. Finally, the straps are fastened to secure the patient.

Why sheet are placed on these types of mattresses?

  • For the easy transfer of the patient at the emergency room.
  • To safeguard the mattress.
  • To prevent direct contact of the skin with plastic (for a sweating casualty).

Details on preparation of the mattress

First of all, the mattress is placed on a stretcher and the straps are put under the mattress along its side. Then the polystyrene balls are evenly dispensed along the length of the mattress. Addition of only few balls will make the area less rigid. You can also concentrate the balls on one area to make it more rigid. Finally, a sheet is put over it, wrapping it in a S-shape. The team member checks the working of the pump. There are full body vacuum mattress available that secures the patient while conforming as per their body shape. Ferno EMS is a website that offers full body vacuum mattress. Ferno vacuum mattress is one of the best vacuum matress stretcher available online in the USA for EMS. Ferno All-in-one vacuum body mattress is currently unavailable at Amazon. However, it is available in eBay a best price. But before that, make sure to lookup Ferno vacuum mattress reviews and then buy.

Ways to put the casualty on the mattress

  • Lift the patient and push the stretcher under it. This involves a team work of five members. But, you should use this only when a spine trauma happens.
  • Lifting through scoop stretcher. This stretcher is put on the mattress and opened to release the casualty.
  • Lastly, the patient is put on the long spine board. Then this board is put on the mattress and the patient is lifted with the help of four members.

The price of Vacuum mattress is economical and falls within $500.

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Vacuum mattress Vs Backboard

A clinical trial was conducted at Tehran University of Medical Sciences that showed that vacuum mattress is best and effective than backboard. You can read about it here at

Vacuum mattress is helpful during EMS situations which require prompt attention and care.

Vacuum Mattress Contraindication and Side effects

When used as per the instructions, there are no contradictions of Medical Vacuum Mattress (VacMat) nor are there any side effects.

Advantages of Vacuum mattress

  • Works as an alternative for long spine board.
  • Provides great comfort.
  • The person will be more secure.
  • You can also use this mattress like a stretcher with the handles for short distances.

Disadvantages of Vacuum mattress

  • The mattress may becomes fragile without a perfectly sealed envelope.
  • More expensive than the long spine board.
  • It takes more time in vacuuming the bag when compared to the traditional spinal board.
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