Halo Brace Home Guide

A halo brace is used to stabilize your head and neck. The halo brace does not allow neck movement. It keeps your head in proper alignment and allows your neck fracture to heal. Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information on caring for yourself with a halo brace. Your caregiver may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your caregiver if you have any problems or questions about your halo brace.



Clean the pin sites daily or as instructed by your caregiver:

  • Wash your hands.

  • Check the pin sites for redness, drainage or loose pins when doing pin care. Always check the vest and tightness of the pins and bolts of the halo frame before getting up from a lying position.

  • Moisten a cotton tipped swab with normal saline or a solution recommended by your caregiver.

  • Gently clean around each pin site with the moistened cotton tip swab. Do not pick or remove any scabs that form around the pin sites. Use a clean, moistened cotton tipped swab for each pin site.

  • If directed by your caregiver, squeeze a small amount of antibiotic ointment onto a cotton tipped swab and apply to each pin site. Use a new cotton tipped swab for each pin site.


The halo vest should fit snuggly to ensure stability of your neck. Check the skin under the vest for pressure points or redness twice daily. Do not remove the vest to look at your skin. The vest may need to be adjusted if your weight changes. Do not adjust the buckle notches yourself. Only your healthcare provider should adjust the buckle notches or open the vest.

  • Change the washable liner that lines the vest as needed.

  • Do not loosen the vest while sitting upright. Lie flat before loosening the vest. Loosen only 1 vest side at a time.

  • Clean under the vest front.

  • Remove and push the dirty vest liner to the side.

  • Position and attach the clean vest liner to the front vest velcro. Extra padding can be placed over skin that is becoming reddened.

  • Close and fasten the front side of the vest before turning over and opening the back side of the vest.

  • Repeat the same steps for the back side of the vest as the front.

  • After the liner has been changed, sit upright and smooth out any wrinkles in the liner.

  • Handwash the soiled vest liner. Air dry the vest liner by lying it flat. Do not dry the vest liner in a dryer. Make sure the vest liner is completely dry before using again.


  • ExitCare Image Sit in a chair or lie down when bathing. Do not stand while bathing.

  • You will need to take sponge baths while you have a halo brace. You can loosen one buckle at a time to wash under the vest. Only do one side ata time. To wash under the vest:

  • Pass a damp cloth under the vest front and pull the towel from the left side to the right side under the vest. Move the cloth down the chest.

  • Remove the towel and repeat the steps to clean your back.

  • Do not apply lotion, powder or soap under the vest or liner.

  • A damp liner should be changed or can be dried with a hair dryer on a cool setting.


  • If your balance is steady, you may wash your hair over a sink or tub:

  • ExitCare Image Position your head over a sink or tub.

  • Place a towel around your neck and shoulders to avoid getting water into the vest.

  • Place another towel on your forehead to wipe any water from the face.

  • Use a sink sprayer or pour water over your hair.

  • Apply shampoo. Wash your hair and thoroughly rinse your hair and pin sites. Do not bump or jar the halo pins.

  • Towel dry your hair. A hair dryer on a cool setting may be used after towel drying your hair.

  • If your balance is not steady or it is easier for you, you may wash your hair while lying in bed:

  • Extend your head over the edge of the bed until your shoulders are even with the edge of the bed. Your head will be tilted down.

  • Place a towel around your neck and shoulders to avoid getting water into the vest.

  • Place a basin beneath your head to catch the water.

  • Place a towel on your forehead to wipe away water from your face.

  • Apply shampoo. Wash your hair and thoroughly rinse your hair and pin sites. Do not bump or jar the halo pins.

  • Towel dry your hair. A hair dryer on a cool setting may be used after towel drying your hair.


  • The weight of the halo brace changes your center of gravity. Use caution and and steady yourself when going from a lying or sitting position to a standing position.

  • Sit upright when eating or drinking. Cut food into small pieces. Chew well.

  • When getting into and out of a vehicle, be sure you have enough clearance to avoid hitting the halo frame.

  • You may sleep on your side, back or stomach. Sleep in a position that makes you comfortable. Do not rest the halo ring on any part of the bed. A rolled towel tucked in between the bars may make your neck more comfortable.

  • Wear flat heeled shoes with good support.

  • Wear loose clothing with a large neck opening to fit over the halo brace.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments.

  • Join a support group for people with halo braces or neck/spine injuries or disease.


  • When you have a halo brace, avoid the following:

  • Do not allow anyone to move you by holding onto the halo frame.

  • Do not pull or lean on the halo brace during sexual activity.

  • Do not use hair coloring, dyes, permanent waves, hairspray or conditioner on your hair.

  • Do not drive a vehicle, ride a bike, ride a motorcycle or operate heavy equipment.

  • Do not run, jump, lift weights or heavy items.

  • Do not shower, bathe in a bathtub, swim or use a hot tub.

  • Do not smoke. Smoking interferes with bone healing.

  • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicine unless your caregiver says it okay to do so. Anti-inflammatory medicine can interfere with bone healing.


  • You have any signs of infection such as a fever or redness, swelling, pain or drainage at any pin site.

  • You develop any red, painful or open skin areas under the halo vest.

  • You have difficulty swallowing, chewing or opening your mouth.

  • You start to have any weakness or numbness in your arms or legs.

  • You start to have shooting pain down your arms or legs.

  • If you have a fall or accident.


  • You are able to move your head in the halo. Lie down flat and contact your caregiver immediately. Do not move your head around. Keep your head still.

  • You have severe, sudden or persistent neck pain.

  • You have a severe, sudden or persistent headache.

  • You have sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.

  • You have any loss of bowel or bladder function.

  • You have any loose pins at any pin site, loose bolts on the halo frame or hear any clicking sounds at any of the connections.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.