Just like a fiberglass cast holds a damaged arm or leg in location, a “halo” with vest holds a child’s head and neck in location after a spine injury so that spinal bones, or vertebrae, can recover.
This brace lets children who have actually been hurt or are recovering from spine surgery walk, move around, and participate in numerous routine activities rather of being confined to bed rest while they recover.
A halo brace holds your child’s head and neck still so that bones and ligaments in the neck can heal. Your child’s head and upper body will move as one when your child is moving around. Your child can still do many activities when wearing the halo brace.
What’s a Halo?
The halo gets its name from the metal ring that surrounds the head, which looks like an angel halo. The ring– which keeps the head fixed in a level, forward-facing position– is connected to the head with little pins that hold it in place. To keep the halo from relocating any direction, vertical rods link it to a person’s shoulders, where it’s attached to a vest. The vest (typically made of plastic or plaster, like a cast), wraps around the neck, over the shoulders, and down to the belly button. It’s lined with soft material to make it more comfy and avoid skin irritations.
When correctly fitted, a halo brace keeps a child’s head and neck entirely still, even during motion.
Is a Halo Painful?
While the brace may look painful, it must not cause any pain to the head, neck, or shoulders. Some kids do experience a little forehead pain or a headache, particularly while eating, however this normally goes away right after a child has gotten used to wearing the brace.
If the pain continues or gets more severe, the pins that protect the halo may have to be changed. Never try to adjust the pins or rods on your own, or to remove the vest. If your child is experiencing pain or discomfort, call the doctor right away. Likewise look for medical care if the area around the pins (or anywhere else) ends up being red, swollen, or inflamed.
How Long Is a Brace Worn?
Depending on the severity of a child’s injury and the period of recovery, the brace might be worn for a few months. Your doctor can tell you for how long your child has to use a halo brace.
Are Some Activities Off Limitations?
Many kids with halos can continue their daily activities, like going to school, doing schoolwork, and participating in extracurricular clubs, as long as they’re feeling up to it and the doctor says it’s OK.
Your child’s doctor will inform you what activities your child need to prevent while in a halo brace. Sports will have to be put on hold for a while, and running– which can increase the chance of a fall– will have to be prevented, also. Other activities to limit:
- any sort of quick or jerky motions, like jumping or dancing
- pulling or tugging on the halo or connected bars
- bumping the halo into other objects (when avoidable)
- getting the vest or vest liner damp
Since kids with a halo can not look down while walking, it is essential for them to take precautions while walking and moving about. Clear the floor of anything that might cause your child to trip or fall, and deal assistive devices, if required. For instance, a walking cane or walker may offer your child the self-confidence to get around on his or her own, instead of relying on you, a relative, or pal to help with walking.
How Will My Child Sleep at Night?
Let your child sleep in whatever position feels most comfortable. Generally, this is the position used prior to getting the halo brace. Kids with halo braces can sleep on their backs, stomachs, or sides. Some choose to sleep on a small incline, with pillows supporting the brace from below. You also can use pillows to support the back, stomach, or side as your child discovers a comfortable sleeping position.
Can My Child Shower?
No. Showers are not allowed since water can damage the halo or vest. However kids can take a bath as long as there’s a shallow quantity of water in the tub and it does not damp the vest. Nevertheless, because it can be hard to obtain kids in and out of the tub safely, a lot of parents opt to by hand bathe their child with a moist towel.
During bathing, have your child sit in a chair while you clean the arms, legs, hands, head/neck, and feet utilizing a mild soap and damp towel. Avoid utilizing sponges that trap water and can quickly leak onto the halo brace. Secure the edges of the vest with a dry towel or plastic bag (which can also be worn over the vest; cut a slit for your child’s head and arms).
To hair shampoo hair, lay your child’s head over the edge of the tub or sink. Small kids can rest on the cooking area counter with their head over the sink. Wash and dry as typical, protecting the vest and liner from any moisture. If you choose, a dry or powder shampoo (that needs no water at all) likewise can be used to cleanse and condition the hair.
If, at any time, the skin beneath the vest becomes damp, dry it with a hairdryer set on “cool.”.
Caring for a Halo
Besides keeping the halo vest devoid of any moisture, it’s also important to keep the site of the pins clean to avoid infection. Your doctor will give you specific guidelines for cleaning the pin areas, including what kind of cleansing solution to use. Run a cotton bud along the pin and surrounding area, and make sure to use a brand-new swab for each pin to avoid spreading any bacteria. If you see that any pins have actually come loose, call the doctor right now.
Caring for the Vest
Some vests feature detachable liners that are washable. Purchasing more than one liner suggests you can clean one while your child wears the other. If you just have one liner or if it is not washable, use a cornstarch-based baby powder around the edges of the vest to keep your child and the liner cool, dry, and comfortable.
To clean up a non-washable vest liner, try using a long piece of surgical gauze dipped in witch hazel. Wring out the gauze so that it is barely moist. Then, feed the gauze under the edge of the vest and liner and, with one end in each hand, slide back and forth. This can also be done in case your child’s skin becomes itchy.
The liner needs to always be worn against the skin, with the vest immediately over it. Routine clothes can be worn over the vest, although they might have to be adapted to fit over the halo rods.
You will be instructed on how to switch the liner.
Assisting Your Child Cope
Managing any sort of physical obstacle, nevertheless temporary, is difficult for anybody– specifically a child or teenager who is handling the pressures of maturing and fitting in with peers. Kids who have to wear a halo brace may feel upset, disappointed, as well as depressed, specifically if they’re no longer participating in activities with their good friends.
In the meantime, find ways to keep normalcy in your child’s life. Lots of kids can continue going to school with a halo and, if not, they can do schoolwork at home or with a tutor. If your child does return to school, a nurse or social worker from the doctor’s workplace may be able to visit your child’s classroom to discuss the halo. This might make your child feel more comfortable about using the brace in school.
If you’re stressed over your child going out with buddies, encourage them to come over to your house so that you can supervise.
In time, your child can return to his or her favorite activities. But if your child continues to feel angry or depressed during recovery, consider talking with a school psychologist or therapist, who might have the ability to help your child cope and look ahead to better days.