Neck Collars

Neck Collars Come In A Variety Of Support Styles And Functions

Neck collars can vary from soft to rigid and can serve functions from head stabilization to providing cervical traction. Many soft collars help to provide warmth, a sense of comfort, and help to assist in postural education. Choosing one depends on the level of support, function needed, or as prescribed by your doctor.

neck collars

  • A 1991 survey published in the British Journal of Rheumatology studied 124 rheumatology, orthopedic, accident and medical emergency outpatients who were prescribed neck collars during a period of 3 months. The instructions regarding use of the collars varied significantly. 76% of the patients found wearing the collar beneficial. 78% indicated that it helped with symptoms of pain. Problems using the collars were noted as being too hot, uncomfortable, and some indicated they had difficulty putting the collars on.
  • In a 2007 Trial published in the journal Spine, whiplash injury patients were split into groups receiving either a neck collar, active therapeutic mobilization or to act as usual. The authors of the study indicated a neck collar and mobilization treatments had similar effects for preventing pain, disability, as well as working capability, 1 year following the whiplash injury. The collar used was the philadelphia collar and the participants were instructed to wear it during all waking hours for a 2 weeks. Patients were able to maintain normal activities as much as possible during the time the neck was immobilized.

Types Of Neck Collars

There are varying degrees of support provided by different collars. To a degree, all collars support the head. Depending on the type of collar, it can be more for head support, taking the pressure of the skull (about 12 pounds) off of the cervical spine. While the more restrictive and rigid collars generally do this better, head support may be necessary for different reasons.

When recovering from an injured neck, it may be useful to allow the structures like muscles, ligaments and discs to heal better by alleviating pressure and restricting motion. This depends on the extent of the injury; fractures need to be immobilized while healing for 4 to 6 weeks, while relatively minor sprains and strains may require a soft collar for a few days or couple of weeks.

Like the 2007 study above illustrates, unless there is serious injury or recovering from surgery, normal activities can be maintained even when wearing a collar. Too much restriction is not good. You, your doctor or therapist can decide on the variables between immobilizing and stretching. Generally, wearing a soft collar will not do harm, especially when any acute inflammation is gone and you can do stretches. This can be done with the collar on. In fact, traction collars are often used to provide resistance for rehabilitation.

We have seen studies indicating collars used for irritated nerves. Collars for the neck can help with arthritis flare-ups as well. While many doctors do not recommend collars for sleeping, some patients find a collar helps prevent awkward sleeping postures and provides a measure of warmth and comfort.

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Head Support Collars

Special collars are designed to support the head in conditions where muscle tone is a problem; either too much or too little. Many individuals that suffer conditions like Parkinson’s, ALS and other diseases/conditions have problems holding their head up. This is often called “drop head syndrome”, where the muscles are too weak to hold up the head. We have a number of solutions that range from comfortable lightweight support, to secure supports for wheelchairs, to a rehabilitative approach using a neuromuscular head support system.

Other collars can help with conditions like torticollis, cervical dystonia or certain genetic and developmental disorders or brain injury like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, trauma as well as dropped head syndrome. This can often cause unbalanced control, spasms or forceful contractions. Again, we have collars and braces are specially designed for support, comfort as swell as a rehabilitative approach using neuromuscular restoration.

Head support collars, many considered neck collars, can provide many benefits for the user. Breathing is easier when the head is restored to an upright position. Socializing becomes easier with better visual ability and promoting eye contact. For some children, this can have a great effect on learning, classroom experience and participation, that can result in better academic achievement. Better head positioning with collars also improves the ability to eat and swallow.

We are pleased to offer some great solutions for head support, repositioning and rehabilitation through the use of neck collars. In general, the more complicated the condition, the more complicated the support, necessitating the help of a therapist. We have many individuals that use the headmaster collar and head support collar very well on their own, however, some will require fitting and monitoring by a therapist like the rehabilitative and customization aspects of the head support system or the use of a torticollis collar on a child. We work closely with companies that offer many revolutionary products in cervical support collars for children and adults. We enjoy working with the ALS Society that help us provide some of our collars to the needy from kind donors.

There are collars that are inflatable, providing adjustable height, head support and cervical spine decompression. This is often used for conditions like disc disease or pinched nerves. They can alleviate pressure to a degree that achieves separation of the joints in the neck, actually lifting the head from the shoulders. The collars that provide traction are an advancement in traction technology and also offer the benefits of a collar. Various designs allow for precise control of force to allowing individual control of left and right sides. This can be used to level the head and provide stretching more to one side of the neck.

  • A 2019 study in Human Factors found an orthotic device that helps balance neck muscles can reduce inertial mass produced by the head and can be used by computer workers to help decrease activation of the neck muscles that can reduce possible risks of developing neck pain.

There are many types of neck collars available today. Depending on your specific needs and recommendations from your health care provider, neck collars may benefit many with cervical spine and head control issues as well as helping in the healing process.

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.