A Halo orthosis brace, or simply a Halo brace, is a metal brace used to immobilize a neck and head while getting a neck injury or neck fracture until it heals the injury of the neck.
This works by keeping the head and neck in the correct position, thus allowing it to heal the injured spinal column and ligaments faster.
A Halo brace for a neck injury is prescribed by a physician, an orthopedic physician, or a neurosurgeon to eliminate action or movements in the slanting and coronal levels of the cervical spine.
It must be applied in such a way that there should be no movements at all in the affected area.
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What Is A Halo Brace?
Halo brace and accessories comprise three parts which are: ring & pins, plastic vest, and the superstructure that connects the rings to the vest in an upright position.
A metal ring is a frame that circles the head without touching the skull.
Normally, the headpins used in the halo brace are screwed directly into the skull.
It is inserted tightly in the resolute base, and the number of pins used depends on the patient’s age, bone quality, injury, etc.
An average number of pins used are 4 to 6 for adults; however, sometimes more pins are used to make the difference in case of fixation.
Then there is a movable frame provided that connects the ring and vest together.
A plastic vest is used so as to support the frame, and it comprises a washable liner to protect the skin of the user.
Most people don’t feel the pain while fixing the pins as they are too tight. However, if fixed loosely, these will definitely cause pain.
X-rays of halo neck fracture may be performed later after the fitting to make sure of the right position of the spine so that it can be immobilized correctly.
When Is Halo Brace Used?
Getting a spinal cord or cervical injury can be a life-changing experience for anyone. It becomes quite frustrating for you to accept the truth that you actually had an injury.
Accept it; it will be going to take a few weeks until you see yourself normal again.
You and your family may be sad, frightened, or sometimes angry about it, but you are the only person who needs to spend time with this painful feeling.
A Halo brace for a broken neck is generally used when someone gets their vertebrate severely fractured in their cervical spine.
Naturally, it is considered an odontoid fracture which will potentially cooperate with a patient’s neurological function if it is unbalanced for more time.
No doubt, there can be other areas in the cervical spine that get severely damaged and need Halo as well.
Actually, these braces are used for patients who have unbalanced cervical fractures located mainly in the C1 and C2 areas.
The time period required to heal the injury can be about 12 weeks which may vary according to the nature of the injury, which is determined by your physician.
How to Wear a Halo Brace Correctly?
A Halo neck brace immobilizes your spine and cervical region while you are walking, running, working, etc., thus helping it to heal quickly.
However, it should be applied and used properly so that you get the best benefits out of it.
While getting it for the first time, you need to follow all the halo brace application instructions provided by your physician carefully.
Often people claim to get halo brace scars after the brace removal, especially when it is not applied or fitted properly.
Bending and twisting of the body are strictly avoided while wearing the Halo neck brace as it may result in a severe problem in the spine.
Also, make sure that you keep the hairs short around the pin sites of the brace.
When you are trying to move from lying to a standing position, roll onto your one side and rest your arms to push up to a sitting position. Then slowly get into the standing position.
It is important that you take the help of a trained person if you want to adjust a brace or want to open it for any reason. Take special care that you lie flat before you open the vest.
When it comes to caring for your neck Halo brace, you need to be a bit careful.
Cleaning your Halo brace and checking the pin sites are the most important tasks while taking care of your brace.
You may also occasionally need to clean the skin present under the vest.
Checking the pins and bolt adjustments is also the thing you need to care for and should be part of your halo brace care.
Why Taking Care of the First Few Days Important?
Halo brace is about 7 pounds in weight, and initially, the patient carrying it may feel uncomfortable while balancing it and moving.
Some patients may also experience pain while eating, but they get habituated slowly to the brace as they get used to it.
Special care should be therefore taken for the first few days after the halo brace application to avoid any fall of the brace while moving.
As days pass, patients may get used to it and can carry it without any help. The patient is also specially trained to do the daily activities and exercises without any hard movements, which helps them in getting the recovery fast.
It is important to get a halo for neck fracture, trauma, or any type of spinal injury to get it cured fast. As it is rigid in its function, it prevents the head and neck from movement.
While opting halo for a broken neck, it is best to take the help of an experienced professional who is good at providing the braces along with all the help regarding how to wear and balance them.
Does a halo brace hurt?
Most of the time, it’s not painful or hurting to wear the halo brace, provided it’s properly installed by a trained medical professional. In the beginning, there may be pain experienced (due to the screws and pins) when chewing or yawning. But with time, the pain goes away normally and also you will get used to it.
Can you shower with a halo?
While wearing a halo a person can take a sponge bath or get a shower using a handheld shower head along with a shower chair. However, care has to be taken that the liner of the brace does not wet as it may become too heavy and can make you feel uncomfortable when it absorbs the water.
How do you sleep with a halo brace?
While you cannot sleep as comfortably as with a soft neck brace, you can instead try taking naps in your reclining chair when needed. Make sure you sleep or rest only on your back and not on your side or stomach with a halo. If required you can check with your health care provider regarding the usage of a small pillow or a rolled towel under your head or neck when resting.