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_SpeedBlocks™ are designed for use by emergency medical personnel arriving at the scene of an accident to immobilize patients at risk of spinal cord injury. A pair of arch shaped blocks snap into a base on both sides of the patient’s head and are adjustable to completely cradle and immobilize the head and a critical portion of the spine.

Machineart’s design is quick to apply with push to lock yellow handles that secure the blocks to the base. The open, minimalist structure allows access for physical examination, as well as keeping the ears unblocked to enable communication when assessing symptoms and the level of consciousness. The cross sectional shape of the vertical supports was carefully designed to enable shadowless x-ray imaging. The design and engineering of the locking mechanism was the crux of the project. The designers worked with a long list of constraints:

  • Adapt to all makes of backboards
  • Quickly attach block to minimize delay at an accident scene
  • Adjust for head sizes from 2 years old up to helmeted adults
  • Lock positively to resist forces from ambulance transport and patient struggle
  • Be low profile to avoid x-ray image interference in lateral images
  • Be easily removable for cleaning and storage
  • Make cleanable/disposable for infection control
  • Manufacture at a low cost to permit replacement

Parts are injection molded in high density polyethylene for its low cost and ability to be cleaned with bleach. SpeedBlocks™ are priced at under $50, 1/3 the cost of its nearest competitor, Ferno Blocks. Since they are cleanable its service life is extended, but when overly soiled the low cost encourages replacement.

SpeedBlocks™ received an IDEA Gold Award from Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), in its annual Industrial Design Excellence Awards program. It also won an MDEA – Medical Design Excellence Award – in the Critical-care and Emergency Medicine product category. MDEA Awards are presented by CANON COMMUNICATIONS LLC.