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Using a Halo Brace after Spinal Cord Injury

What is a halo brace?

A halo brace is a brace used to prevent your neck and head from moving. It keeps your neck in the correct position. This allows your injured spinal column and the ligaments to heal. It also helps support your neck muscles. This brace keeps your neck from moving forward, bending backward, and your head from turning. Staying in bed may cause many pressure sores, blood clots, and other health problems. The halo brace lets you get out of bed and start moving sooner after your injury.

What does a halo brace look like?

The halo brace is made up of:

  • A metal ring that circles your head without touching your skull.
  • Pins that go through the metal ring and are screwed into your skull.
  • A movable frame that connects the metal ring to a plastic vest.
  • A plastic vest that supports the frame.
  • A washable liner that goes inside the plastic vest to protect your skin.

Do's and do nots of having a halo brace:

  • Do lie flat if the vest needs to be opened for any reason.
  • Do close and secure the vest after opening it in front before turning over to open the back. Always have someone check the vest and the tightness of the pins before getting out of bed.
  • Do keep your hair short around the pin sites.
  • Do wear the liner under the vest without anything else between the vest and your skin.
  • Do tell your caregiver if you have neck pain or a headache. Also tell them if you can move your head even a little bit. Stay flat in bed until your caregiver checks the halo.
  • Do not allow anyone to move you by holding onto the frame of the halo.
  • Do not open the vest unless you have help from someone who has been trained to help you.
  • Do not allow anyone to adjust the halo unless they are trained to adjust it.

How do I care for my halo brace?

Taking care of your halo brace includes cleaning and checking the pin sites, and the skin under the vest. It also includes checking the pin and bolt adjustments.

Where can I go for support?

  • Having a spinal cord injury is life changing for you and your family. Accepting that you have a spinal cord injury is hard. You and those close to you may feel angry, sad, or frightened. These feelings are normal. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. Let them help you. Your caregiver can help your family better understand how to support a person with a spinal cord injury.
  • You may want to join a support group. This is a group of people who also have spinal cord injuries. Ask your caregiver for the names and numbers of support groups in your town. For more information, you may contact any of the following:
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
    801 Eighteenth Street NW
    Washington, DC , 20006
    Phone: 1- 800 - 424-8200
    Web Address:
  • National Spinal Cord Injury Association
    6701 Democracy Blvd, Ste 300-9
    Bethesda , MD 20817
    Phone: 1- 800 - 962-9629
    Web Address:
  • American Spinal Cord Association
    2020 Peachtree Road, NW
    Atlanta, Georgia , 30309-1402
    Phone: 1- 404 - 355-9772
    Web Address:

Call a caregiver if:

  • You see any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage around the pin sites.
  • You have neck pain or a headache.
  • You have a fever (increased body temperature).
  • You have signs of a pressure sore under the vest. This would include red, painful, and open areas of skin.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You can move your head or neck. Lie down flat after contacting your caregiver. Your caregiver will need to check your halo and pin sites.
  • You see or feel any loose pins, nuts, or bolts.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your spinal cord injury and your halo brace. You can then discuss choices with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what choices may be best for you. You always have the right to refuse and make your own decisions.

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.

Learn more about Using a Halo Brace after Spinal Cord Injury

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Further information

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