MIRA University of Twente
Department of Biomechanical Engineering

Department of Biomechanical Engineering

Spine loading after fixation on a spine board


Twente University


Mechanical engineering, BioMedical engineering




Bart Verkerke

Ton van den Boogaard

Edsko Hekman (daily supervisor)




One of possible injuries after an accident is fracture of one or more vertebrae. If spinal damage is suspected, victims will generally be placed onto a “Spine Board”, which basically is a rigid board. By strapping the patient on this board an attempt is made to immobilize the spine. The patient remains strapped to the spine board until after an MRI or CT-scan of the spine has been made. Not only is this very uncomfortable, but also there is discussion among experts about whether strapping the patient to a flat rigid board is beneficial to the patient or detrimental instead. Experience of ambulance personnel as well as some reported clinical evidence suggests the latter might be the case.

A first step to improve this situation is to provide a more anatomically shaped spine board. This has been the topic of a Bachelor assignment, and has resulted in the “Scoop 'n Runner”, shown in the figure. However, it still remains unclear whether strapping the patient down is beneficial or the opposite.


Your assignment will be to perform a Finite Element Method (FEM) analysis of the system consisting of spine board, human torso, and straps.


Steps that are to be taken include:

- review relevant literature, interview ambulance staff and/or other sources

- make a model of the spine board and straps

- adapt the spine model in our group to suit this analysis

- determine “typical” spine damage situations, and include these in the spine model

- determine the appropriate loading situation and calculate the effect on the spine

- give recommendations on things such as location of the straps, tension, material stiffness and anything you can think of that improves the situation.


More information about this project can be obtained from Edsko Hekman.