PATIENT CARE GUIDE FOR THE HALO TRACTION
Table of Contents
Introduction Clothing Skin Care Bathing Hair Washing Sleeping Diet and Eating Sexual Activity Activity Travelling Pin Care Vest Care Wrench General Information Follow-Up Instructions When to Call 3 4 4 5 6 6 8 9 10 11 13 13 13 14 14 15
Introduction You have had surgery or suffered an injury to your neck and the way to properly heal this injury is to immobilize and place traction on your head and neck. The halo does for your neck what a cast does for a broken arm. The risk to your spinal column is great and this is why you have been fitted with a special brace. Each person’s condition is different. The brace consist of three major parts: the vest (worn on your chest), ring or halo (encircles your head) and rods (extends from the ring to the vest). It is applied by your physician. You will be going home with the halo traction in place and it must be worn at all times.
This booklet has been designed to explain the proper care as well as assist you in the healing process while wearing the halo traction. It should only be used as a guide and if you have any further questions, please contact your physician.
Clothing The halo vest is usually worn next to the skin. The vest is lined with either wool or some acrylic matter. You may want to slide a cotton t-shirt under your vest. The shirt is pulled from the bottom under the vest and secured at the shoulders. The shoulders seams should be split and secured with Velcro. Shirts or blouses should be a few sizes larger than what you normally wear and button up the front. There should be no problems with pants, shorts, or skirts. Always wear lowheeled or runners with good traction to avoid falling or slipping.
Skin Care Your skin under the vest should be looked at daily; a flashlight can be used for this. Have someone check the skin for red or blistered areas especially on bony prominences (scapula, shoulders or hips), excessive perspiration, especially pressure sores.
You should also wash under the vest on a daily basis by passing a water-dampened towel, beneath the front and back portions of the vest. Pull the towel back and forth under the vest. Be careful not to allow the liner to absorb excessive amounts of moisture. DO NOT USE soaps, creams, lotions or oilbased powders beneath the vest. These items may irritate your skin. Bathing You should never attempt to shower since there is no reliable way to keep your vest liner dry. You can either use sponge baths or a bathtub with about 2-3 inches of water (make sure it is not close to your vest liner). Use towels or plastic to help keep your vest from getting wet.
A family member or friend should help you wash your hair. Hair washing may be done in whatever manner is most comfortable for the individual. Use mild soap such as baby shampoo. One way to wash your hair is to lie on a flat surface (such as a bed, two chairs or couch) with your head extended out over the edge. A second way is to lean over the bath tub. The vest should be covered with towels. A basin or pail should be placed under your head. Also if your head is slightly lower than your body, water will run off your head instead of down under your vest. Your hair can be washed normally with care being taken not to bump or hit the pins. No hair coloring, use of hair spray and gel products or other hair treatments should be attempted while wearing the halo since this may lead to infection at the pin sites and discomfort around the pins. Sleeping You may find yourself a little more tired than normal due to the stress you have been under and the traumatic injury you have sustained.
You may find you do not sleep well at night and you may require naps during the days as well. You may wake up every time you turn over, at least initially, and it may not be easy to find a comfortable position. You may sleep on your back, sides...