Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

A neck brace, also known as a cervical collar, is primarily used to provide support and stability to the cervical spine. It is used to immobilize areas of the neck and support your cervical region when there is a condition that requires to be treated. Neck braces, offer a non-onvasive and safe option for managing or preventing neck pain, treat muscle weakness, spinal deformities, and provide support during the recovery phase. The common conditions that may require a neck brace include, extreme sports activities, traumatic head or neck injuries, recovery stage after surgery, therapeutic stage after whiplash injuries, neck pain and cervical radiculopathy.

Types of Neck Braces & Benefits of Wearing a Neck Brace

Types of Neck Braces:

Soft Neck Braces

Soft neck braces are the best choice for people who require a minimal amount of support for their neck and head. These braces keep the neck and head stable and still so as to prevent injury. These soft neck braces do not completely immobilize the neck, however, they restrict neck and head motion. They provide muscular support during movement. These neck braces are used after using the hard or rigid neck braces, for a certain period of time, for appropriate healing. These neck braces are comfortable and allow necessary motion, essential for daily activities. They are primarily used to fix minor cervical issues and also used after whiplash injury. These types of neck braces are helpful for minor neck injuries, and are basically used for few hours in a day.

Soft neck braces are made of dense polyurethane foam with a moisture-wicking outer cover. They are cut to mould around the patient’s neck and the jaw. This flexible neck brace is wrapped around the neck with the help of a Velcro closure. These braces can be washed completely and they comes with skin respiration that prevents the risk of itching or irritation of the skin.

Hard or Rigid Neck Braces:

Hard or rigid neck brace are made from molded plastic, and they provide good support and help in recovering from several kinds of neck pain. These type of neck brace limits the forward and backward movements of the neck. They are usually recommended after you have used the halo titanium ring. Hard or rigid neck brace is primarily prescribed to those who have undergone surgery or after severe neck or head injury.

These type of neck brace come in a variety of sizes so as to fit the neck of the patient appropriately. The outer layer of the hard or rigid neck brace is comprised of a hard thermoplastic support, while the inner layer is made of soft padding. It is important to wear your rigid neck brace correctly. It is important that the brace is fitted tight enough to offer sufficient support to your neck.

Conditions such as acute neck pain, Cervical spondylosis, neck strain, acute neck injury, post surgery, spine rehabilitations and degenerative neck diseases, require using a ahrd or rigid neck brace.

Sterno-Occipital Mandibular Immobilization Device (SOMI):

Sterno-Occipital Mandibular Immobilization device or SOMI is a type of rigid neck brace that holds your neck in a straight line with the spine. This type of brace is basically used to align the cervical region of the neck with the spine for fixing the damage done to the neck. SOMI, offers a rigid support and prevents a person’s head from moving. Immobilization helps the quicker recovery of the damaged structures in the neck. It must be noted that while using this type of a neck brace, the patient must not twist or bend his neck.

Sterno-Occipital Mandibular Immobilization device or SOMI neck brace consists of several parts that provide support to sternum, jaw and the neck. It has a chest plate or sterno at its front, which is connected to the bars going over the shoulder. The chest piece connects to the occipital piece, that supports the back of the head. There is a chin piece, that is connected by straps to a headpience that is worn across the head, at which your lower jaw rests. Although, this type of neck brace is complicated to wear, as compared to other types of braces, these braces offer excellent support for an injured neck.

Basically, SOMI neck braces are used after cervical spinal surgery or severe neck injury, where the head and neck movements could be detrimental. These braces provide an excellent support and faster recovery, by supporting multiple areas at various levels. However, the drawback of this type of a brace is that, it controls extension less effectively as compared to other types of braces.

Thomas Type Neck Braces:

Thomas type neck brace is a less commonly used type of neck brace. It is made from Vinyl plastic and has small holes for ventilation. The design is similar to that of a soft neck brace. However, the only difference is the use of tough material. This type of neck brace provide more rigid support to the neck. It comes with a foam padding on both, the upper and the lower sides of the brace. This aids in preventing pressure sore.

Philadelphia Neck Braces:

Philadelphia neck brace is a stiff foam collar that has a front and back piece, which are attached on the sides with Velcro. The upper part of this brace supports the lower jaw, while the extension part covers the upper thoracic spine. It is basically used round the clock and should be used until your doctor tells you to remove it. Philadelphia neck brace is mainly used for conditions where greater restrictions on motion are required. This includes the upper spine fractures, cervical strain, or cervical fusion surgery.
This type of neck brace has a two-piece design, where the front and the back piece are held together by Velcro straps. It is a lightweight, twp-piece polyethylene foam material having tough plastic supports at the front and rear. While wearing this brace, you need to be sure that the brace is placed in the center and the Velcro straps are firmly applied. This offers rigid stabilization with comfort.

Conditions such as cervical fusion surgery, neck fractures casuing instability of the cervical spine and significant strain on neck ligaments, are some of the conditions where Philadelphia neck brace could be used.

Miami J Neck Brace:

This type of neck brace is often known as the advanced form of Philadelphia neck brace. Miami J neck brace is designed for providing extra comfort for the patients with neck injury. The sizing and fitting of Miami J neck brace is variable and this provide the best comfort to the patient. It comes with an additional thoracic extension brace that provides protection and support to the thoracic spine.

The design of this type of neck brace is similar to that of Philadelphia neck brace, except the addition of a thoracic extension brace. It comprises of front and back parts that are connected with Velcro straps. The inner side of the braces is covered with protective padding that offers comfort and prevents skin irritation and itching. Neck fractures and Cervical fusion surgery are the conditions where such a type of neck brace could be used.

Aspen Neck Braces:

Aspen neck brace is something similar to Philadelphia and Miami-J types of neck braces, in most of its design and use. However, the only difference is the type of material used for padding. Aspen cervical braces use much more breathable padding material, as compared to the other two types of neck braces. It has a hole in the center for the purpose of tracheostomy.

Benefits Of Wearing A Neck Brace:

Relieves Neck Pain:

One of the best known benefits of wearing a neck brace is, it helps in relieving neck pain. About 90% of the problems of neck pain are fostered by chronic strain and acute or repetitive neck injuries. Cervical collars or the neck braces can be used for pain management and gaining instant relief. However, it is advisable to seek doctor’s consultation, in case a person is suffering from excessive neck pain.

Useful During Traumatic Neck And Head Injuries:

A neck brace is usually worn after a very aggravated neck or head injury. It helps in stabilizing an injured person’s cervical area, such as the spinal cord and the skull, and also prevents the possibility of further injury. Apart from this, a neck brace also acts as a remedy for reducing the chances of spinal damage, paralysis or even death.

Helps In Quick Recovery From A Whiplash:

If you want a faster or quicker recovery from a whiplash injury , traumatic neck or head injury or a spinal surgery, you need to wear a neck brace. Apart from immobilizing the injured area, these neck braces releases stress off the injured part of the body. So, most doctors advise their patients to wear these braces effectively, until they are done with the healing process.

Beneficial In Treating Cervical Radiculogy:

There is one more benefit of wearing a neck brace. They help in treating cervical radiculopathy which has has symptoms like burning sensation in the neck, tingling and numbness. As is the case, tumors, disc herniation and some othet physical traumas can culminate into nerve damage that is the root cause of this disease.

Conclusion:

Neck braces are really beneficial in several conditions. Like all spinal braces, neck braces are also most effective when they are worn under the supervision of your doctor. You will also have to work with a specialist who designs and custom fits spinal braces. It is essential for you to talk to your doctor, in case you have an neck pain problem and make use of the most effective neck brace, as per the doctor’s advice.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 7, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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