Important Guidelines for Home
- The pins are the main points of fixation that hold your brace to your body.
The points are tightened against your skull and exert about six inch pounds of
pressure per pin site. This is enough pressure to stabilize your head and neck
without penetrating your skull. The pin's penetration of the bone is
approximately one-eighth of an inch. Consequently, the ring is held in
position by the pressure of the pins rather than by their depth. Care of the
pins is necessary to prevent infection. In cleaning the pin sites, use a
cotton swab soaked in half strength peroxide and normal saline solution. Clean
each pin site with a separate swab to avoid cross-contamination. After you
have thoroughly removed the excess crusting and ointment, take a clean swab
and apply betadine solution to the base of each pin. Try to clean the sites
daily. Be sure that your doctor or nurse explains this procedure to you prior
to your discharge from hospital. You should also be told where extra supplies
for this procedure may be obtained.
Pain - You may experience
discomfort for one to three days following the application of your halo brace.
This is normal during the adjustment period. However the pins should not cause
pain once the initial headache has subsided. If a pin becomes unusually
painful, it may indicate that it has become infected or needs adjustment. Call
your orthotist or doctor to have this matter resolved. Always take all of the
tools provided as they will be needed for adjustments.
Soreness and Oozing - If you
notice that a pin site is bleeding or oozing it may be the onset of an
infection. Call your doctor to let him know. He can probably advise you over
Painful Pressure - You may
feel pressure causing continual discomfort or soreness under the vest. The
brace fits snuggly to ensure stability for your neck. Loosening the buckles or
straps without permission could disturb the alignment and cause problems.
Pressure on your scapulas, ribs, clavicles or spine can be relieved with
proper care. You may also experience tightness round the abdomen because you
have gained some weight. Call your orthotist or doctor to have the pressure
points relieved and the brace re-adjusted. Do not attempt to adjust these
problems by yourself. The onset of pain could be an indicator that the brace
needs to be adjusted. Do not ignore these signs as prolonged delays often
compound a problem that could be cured with a simple adjustment.
Dirty Liners - If your
liners begin to have an odor, become dirty or you spill something down the
brace, call your doctor to have them replaced.
Bathing - Try to avoid
situations where you are exposed to excessive dirt or dust. You cannot just
take a shower or bath. Keeping your environment as cool and clean as possible
will make life easier in a halo. Perspiration and oily skin can create itching
under the brace. You may loosen one buckle at a time while supine to wash
under the brace. After you wash, avoid using oil-based powders or lotions as
they tend to cake-up and cause skin irritation. Corn starch is a better
moisture absorbent and can be used in conjunction with alcohol which aids in
drying oily areas. A shallow tub bath is permitted but avoid getting the
liners wet as this will cause rapid deterioration of the sheepskin liner. The
best method of bathing is by a towel bath, sitting in a chair beside the sink.
No showers are permitted. If your liner should become moist, use a hair dryer
to help dry it. Use the cold setting on the dryer to avoid burning the skin.
Some people are allergic to the wool sheepskin liner and itching and a rash
may occur. This problem can be resolved by changing to a synthetic liner. Call
your doctor or orthotist if you experience any skin discomfort or irritation.
Hair Washing - First prepare
pin sites with a good covering of antibacterial ointment. Hair washing is best
achieved by lying flat on an elevated surface, such as a bed. Extend the head
out over the edge of the bed until the shoulders are even with the end. A
basin is placed beneath the head to catch the water. Remember, water runs
downhill so let your body weight compress the mattress. Your head will be
tilted downwards. Caution must always be taken not to extend too far over the
bed as you may slide off. Place a towel round the neck and the shoulders to
avoid draining water onto the vest. Have a towel available for wiping the
eyes. Using a container of water, pour and saturate the hair, then apply a
mild shampoo. Rinse thoroughly and do normal pin cleaning. If pain is
experienced while attempting this, stop and contact your doctor or orthotist.
Itching - If you scratch an
irritated area, use a blunt object and try not to scratch so hard that you
break the skin. A break in the skin under the brace may cause further
Swallowing - ALWAYS be
upright when swallowing. Your head and neck will be fixed in a position that
makes swallowing difficult at first. It will be easier to choke on foods
and fluids so precautions need to be observed. Cut your food into smaller
pieces, take smaller bites, chew thoroughly and swallow carefully. Crush your
pills and avoid taking more than one pill at a time. If swallowing or chewing
continues to be a problem to you, or if you are having problems opening your
mouth, please call your doctor.
Balance - Your center of
gravity has changed due to being "top heavy"; consequently you will need to
adjust your posture so that your head is tilted slightly forward and you are
flexed at the waist. Sometimes holding onto the bars helps to provide extra
stability and balance. Falling down can have disastrous after-effects.
Practice bending over and dressing yourself with someone to spot you at first
prior to attempting this procedure alone. If you do bang your head, examine
the pin sites to make sure you have not jarred the pins loose.
Car Riding - Getting into a
car is best achieved by sitting sideways on the seat, sliding your buttocks
onto the seat and then swinging your legs inward. getting out is easier if you
lean down, clearing your legs first. Please wear seatbelts at all times
when traveling in a car. Sudden stops could cause serious injury. It is
inadvisable to drive a car during the time you are in your brace as the
immobilization hinders your line of sight and peripheral vision.
Sleeping - The stress and
added energy requirements upon you may cause you to need more sleep than you
are used to taking. Do not be alarmed by this. Allow yourself a nap whenever
you feel fatigued. Being well rested will help make coping easier. You may
sleep on your side. back or stomach.