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Discharge Instructions: Using a Halo Ring and Vest Brace

You are going home with a halo ring and vest brace in place. A halo ring and vest brace are used to keep your head and neck from moving after a neck fracture or surgery. It consists of 3 parts:

  • A vest that you wear on your chest

  • A lightweight metal ring, or halo, that is fastened to your head with 4 pins

  • Four rods that extend from the vest and attach to the ring

The halo does for your neck what a cast does for a broken arm. Wearing a halo ring and vest brace means that you can go home to heal and move about, rather than staying in bed or in the hospital while your neck heals. Getting used to the halo ring and vest brace takes time, but you'll adjust. You will be wearing the device for about 12 weeks. Here's what you need to know about home care.

Skin and Hair Care

  • Clean the skin around the pins twice a day. Soak a Q-tip or cotton ball with soap and water to clean around the pin.

  • Don’t use creams, lotions, or antiseptics unless the doctor says it’s okay.

  • Check the skin under the vest brace daily. Don’t use soap, lotion, or powder under the vest. These items can irritate your skin.

  • Ask a friend or family member to help you shampoo your hair. Use mild soap.

  • Don’t dye your hair or use hair sprays.

The Vest

  • Bathe in a bathtub, but keep the water below the level of your vest. Don’t get the vest brace wet.

  • Wear a cotton T-shirt under the vest to avoid irritation. You will need to cut or stretch the T-shirt so that it will fit over the halo.

  • Wear blouses or shirts that button up the front. They should be 1 to 2 sizes larger than you normally wear so they can fit over the vest.

Activity

  • Be active, but use good judgment. Don’t ride a bike or skateboard. Your balance will be off.

  • Bend over slightly when entering doorways.

  • Turn your back and lower yourself carefully to get into cars. Small cars will be difficult for you to get in and out of.

  • Don’t jump, run, or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.

  • Avoid crowds or situations where you might be shoved or jostled.

  • Stop any activity that makes your neck hurt.

  • Sleep in any position that makes you comfortable.

  • Remember to be careful when you get out of bed. Log-roll to the edge of the bed. Drop your legs to the floor and use your arm to raise your upper body slowly.

  • Ask your doctor when you can return to work. You may not be able to work while you are wearing your halo ring and vest brace.

Follow-Up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Pain, redness, swelling, or green or yellow drainage at the pin sites

  • Pins that move or shift, or open skin around the pin sites

  • Loose halo or halo part(s) or clicking noises coming from the device

  • Ability to nod or excessively move your head

  • Severe back or neck pain

  • Bruising and swelling on your neck or back

  • Tingling or numbness in your arms or legs

  • Trouble controlling your bowels or bladder

  • Loss of feeling and movement in arms or legs

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) or shaking chills

 

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