A neck brace, sometimes called a cervical collar, is used to provide stability to the spine while allowing the muscles in the neck to relax and heal. Neck braces are most often temporary and replaced by other neck braces as the injury heals. There is a consideration that the overuse of a neck brace can slow healing from injuries such as whiplash or minor neck pain.
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Neck braces, also called orthotics, are a type of medical brace used in supporting the neck muscles, head and vertebrae bones. This type of brace is created by an orthotist who is a medical practitioner specialising in making moulded braces, fitting and guidance to proper use. Neck braces are one of many types of medical brace which can be worn to help keep the spine aligned.
There are four categories of neck brace: soft collar, cervical collar, SOMI and Halo brace. The soft collar brace is a foam collar worn around the neck. These braces, made for easy removal or application, are a transition piece between a rigid brace and no brace. The cervical collar comes in either rigid or semi-rigid form. These are plastic and metal neck braces supporting the chin and the back of the head. These type of braces restrict head motion and some have extensions supporting the spine.
A SOMI (Sterno-Occipital Mandibular Immobilizer) is the brace used to keep the neck in a straight line. This brace restricts bending or twisting of the neck. The Halo device is the most rigid of neck braces. This is the brace with the pins drilled into the skull and attached to a metal ring circling the head. The brace is attached to four posts which are connected to a vest worn by the patient.
The general reason for a neck brace to be authorised would be for one of three things: to immobilise the spine during healing, to stabilise the injured area and to control pain by the restricting of movement. The severity of the injury will determine the type of brace used. If you have a simple sprain or sore muscle, a soft collar or cervical collar would be used. If you have a spinal injury, or the possibility of a broken spine, a brace which makes the neck immobile will be used to reduce further injury.
When you are advised that you will be needing a neck brace, many considerations will be looked at to determine the type of neck brace you will use, and at what stage in your healing. Many times you may go through more than one type as your health improves. Another consideration, especially at the time of injury, is the mobility of the spine and the weight limits required for support.
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