Halo Brace Home Guide

What is Halo Brace Home Guide

A halo brace prevents the neck from moving after a break (fracture) in the neck bones. This keeps the head in place relative to the spine and helps the neck bones to heal.

These instructions provide you with information about caring for yourself with a halo brace. Your health care provider may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your health care provider if you have problems or questions.

Follow these instructions at home:

Cleaning the Halo Pins

Clean the pin sites every day or as often as told by your health care provider:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  2. Check for loose pins and for signs of infection, such as:
    1. More redness, swelling, or pain.
    1. More fluid or blood.
    1. Warmth.
    1. Pus or a bad smell.
  3. Clean each pin site with a wet cotton-tipped swab. If you were prescribed antibiotic medicine, apply it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop using the antibiotic even if your condition improves.
    1. Use a clean swab for each pin site.
    1. Do not touch the pin sites with your hands.

Caring for the Halo Vest

Check for redness or irritation under the vest two times per day. Do not adjust the buckles. Do not remove the vest. Hand wash and change the vest liner as often as needed by using these steps:

  1. Lie on your back. Do not loosen the vest while you are sitting up.
  2. Loosen the vest buckles one side at a time.
  3. Remove the vest liner.
  4. Attach a clean liner to the vest. Apply padding over any red or irritated skin.
  5. Close the vest one side at a time.
  6. Lie on your abdomen (face-down) and repeat steps 2–5.
  7. Hand wash the liner and let it air dry. Do not dry the liner in a dryer.

Bathing

To take sponge baths, follow these steps:

  1. Sit or lie down. Do not stand while you bathe.
  2. Loosen the vest buckles one side at a time.
  3. Remove the vest liner.
  4. Pass a damp cloth under one side of the vest until one end of the cloth comes out of the other side. Move the cloth by gently pulling on the edges.
    1. Do this for your chest, back, and sides.
    1. Do not apply lotion, powder, or soap under the vest.
  5. Let your skin dry completely by air drying or by repeating step 4 with a dry towel.
  6. Attach a clean liner to the vest.

How to take care of your skin and hair with a Halo Brace

  • Everyday Skin Care Instructions.  Ideally recommended is the cornstarch inside your vest which helps to absorb any moisture. Your caregivers need to check for any redness and sores under your brace, especially your chest and shoulder blades. If there is excessive sweat accumulation, try using a hair dryer on the cool setting to dry off the sweat.
  • Skin Cleaning Tips – Regular Cleaning of the skin under your vest is recommended to prevent itching, rashes, and skin sores. You can Use soap and water to clean your skin under the vest. Always use a damp cloth to wipe the skin inside your vest.
  • Bathing Instructions – To make sure your vest is maintained always dry, sponge baths recommended. Alternatively, you can sit in a tub of shallow water. Hair dryer on a cool setting is the best to dry your vest if it gets wet.
  • NO to Skin Cosmetics -Skin Cosmetics such as Lotions and powders can cause sores and irritation on your skin. Stay Away from these skin cosmetics such as lotions or powders on the skin under your halo brace. 

To wash your hair, take these steps:

  1. If you can balance steadily, bend over a sink or a tub. You may also lie in bed, on your back. Lie so that your shoulders are at the edge of the bed and your head and neck are over the edge.
  2. Ideally a sprayer is advised to wet and rinse your hair. You can bend over a sink or bathtub and then Use the sprayer. Always cover your neck ideally with a plastic bag to keep the vest liner dry
  3. Place a basin beneath your head to collect water.
  4. Place a towel around your shoulders to avoid getting water into the vest.
  5. Shampoo carefully, and make sure to rinse out all of the shampoo. Pour water over your hair by using a pitcher or a sink sprayer.
  6. Dry your hair thoroughly.

Living with a halo brace

  • Check the tightness of the pins and bolts at least one time every day. Do this before you get up from lying down.
  • Move slowly and carefully, especially:
    • When you sit or lie down.
    • When you stand up.
    • When you get in and out of a vehicle.
  • Eat and drink carefully. Sit upright, cut food into small pieces, and chew well.
  • You may sleep on your side, back, or abdomen.
    • Do not rest the top of the brace (halo ring) on the bed.
    • You may place a towel between your neck and your brace for comfort.
  • Wear supportive, flat-heeled shoes.
  • Wear clothing that fits over the brace.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
  • It is important that you:
    • Do not pull, hold onto, or lean on the brace. Do not let other people do these things.
    • Do not use hair dyes or hairspray.
    • Do not drive, ride a bike, or operate heavy machinery.
    • Do not run, jump, or lift anything that is heavier than 5 lb (2.3 kg).
    • Do not take baths, shower, swim, or use a hot tub.
    • Do not use tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or e-cigarettes. Tobacco can delay bone healing. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
    • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, unless your health care provider approves. These medicines can delay bone healing.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have more redness, swelling, or pain at any of your pin sites.
  • You have more fluid or blood coming from any of your pin sites.
  • Any of your pin sites feel warm to the touch.
  • You have pus or a bad smell coming from any of your pin sites.
  • You develop sores or red, painful skin under your vest.
  • You have difficulty swallowing, chewing, or opening your mouth.
  • You develop pain in your arms or legs.

Get help right away if:

  • You are able move your head in the halo. If this happens, lie down flat right away and keep your head still. Do not try to move your head.
  • You fall or have an accident that may have damaged the brace.
  • You have neck pain.
  • You have a headache that develops suddenly, is very severe, or does not go away.
  • You have a fever.
  • You develop numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.
  • You cannot control your bladder or bowel function.
  • You have problems with your brace, such as:
    • Loose pins.
    • Loose bolts.
    • Clicking sounds coming from your brace.

Sources

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