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Philadelphia Collar

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is a Philadelphia collar?

A Philadelphia collar is a neck brace used to prevent head and neck movement after a spinal cord injury. It supports your neck muscles and gives your spinal cord and ligaments time to heal. The collar is made of hard plastic, with Velcro straps to keep it closed. The front piece has a chin cup. The back piece is curved and fits against the lower part of your head.

Philadelphia Collar

How do I put the collar on?

It is important to put on the collar correctly so your spine is lined up properly. Ask for help if you cannot put your collar on by yourself.

  • Lie on your back with both pieces of the collar within easy reach.
  • Carefully slip the back half of the collar under your neck and slide it into position.
  • Put the top half of the collar on.
  • Tighten the straps to make sure the collar fits snugly.

How do I care for my skin?

  • Check your skin every day. Have someone else check your skin if you are not able to see it well. Your healthcare provider may recommend a gel pad if the collar irritates your skin. Gel pads help decrease the pressure on your skin.
  • Shower with the collar on. After your shower, lie down to remove the collar. Have someone clean your neck and chin with warm water and soap. Rinse the soap and dry your skin. Do not put lotion on your skin under the collar. Replace the collar and secure the straps.

What else do I need to know?

Always lie flat if the collar needs to be opened. You or someone else should check your collar before you get out of bed. Do not allow anyone to adjust the collar unless they are trained to do it.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • The collar is too tight or too loose.
  • You have back pain.
  • You have neck pain or a headache.
  • You have a red, painful, or open area of skin under the collar.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have severe pain.
  • You have trouble moving a limb.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.