Using Your Halo Orthosis (Brace) at Home
Your Halo Orthosis controls and supports your neck posture, helps reduce pain, prevents further injury, and promotes healing.
Wearing your Halo
Your Halo should prevent harmful motion in your neck. When you want to look in another direction, your head and trunk will turn as one. You should be able to do many normal activities by yourself or with a little help from caregivers or an assistive device. Ask your doctor for detailed guidelines to follow.
Planning for your trip home
Arrange for someone to drive you home because the Halo will restrict your movement and vision. Bend at your hips, knees, and lower back when getting into and out of a car, sitting, or standing. Be very careful to allow extra space for the Halo structure when you move near other people or objects. During cold weather, you may be more comfortable if you limit your time outside and wrap your head and halo with a small blanket or large towel for warmth.
You cannot take off your Halo. You must wear your Halo as ordered by your doctor. Your halo system should be removed, adjusted, changed or opened ONLY by your doctor or his assistants. If you have any problems or concerns, you should contact your doctor promptly.
Showering or bathing
During the course of your Halo treatment, avoid taking showers or getting your Halo vest wet. Sponge baths are advised during this time. Clean your skin under the halo vest by carefully reaching under the vest with a lightly damp cloth. Do not attempt to loosen, change, or remove the Halo vest. If your doctor permits you to wash your hair during halo treatment, follow the exact instructions.
Cleaning pin sites
Nursing staff will teach you how to keep the pin sites clean.
You will need to clean the pin sites twice a day. Often, a crust will form around each site. This crust must be cleaned off to prevent infection. Your nurse will show you or a caregiver how to clean the pin sites before you leave the hospital.
- small sterile containers
- 1 bottle of hydrogen peroxide
- 1 bottle of normal saline
- sterile cotton swabs
- latex or vinyl gloves (non-sterile)
- small paper or plastic bag to dispose waste
What to do
1. Wash hands well with soap and water.
2. Use hydrogen peroxide in a half strength mixture (mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and normal saline) for cleaning. Ask your nurse how much liquid you should use for one cleaning. Pour only enough for one cleaning. Once the mixture is poured, it cannot be poured back into the bottle.
NOTE: you may want to wear non-sterile gloves for the rest of the procedure.
3. Dip a sterile cotton swab into the cleaning mixture. Vigorously clean one pin site. Be sure to remove any crust. Then, repeat for each pin site. Always use a new, clean swab for each pin site. Start close to the pin and work away from it in a circular motion.
4. Check the pin sites for signs of infection. Call your doctor right away if you see any of these signs:
- Increased drainage
Note: Your doctor may prefer to have you apply antibiotic ointment around the pin site. Use a small drop of ointment for each pin and use a new, sterile cotton swab to spread it around each pin. No gauze is needed.
To get more supplies
You can get more supplies on your return visits to the Ortho/Spine Clinic. If you need more supplies but do not have a scheduled clinic visit, call the nursing station at (608) 263-8400.
Cleaning your Halo
Wipe off the structure using a cloth dampened with alcohol or water.
How long do I need to wear the Halo?
Your doctor will decide how long you need to wear your Halo. You should always be sure to follow your doctor’s advice even if you “feel better” and would like to change your activities or care requirements. Your doctor will check your progress and will decide what is in your best long-term interest.
What should I do if my neurological symptoms get worse?
If you have more numbness, tingling, and pain or are less able to move or do everyday activities, please call (608) 265-3207.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 03/03/2011
Copyright © 03/03/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5397
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