Discharge Instructions: Using a Cervical Neck Brace (Miami J Collar)
Your doctor has prescribed a Miami J collar, a cervical neck brace (also called a cervical collar) for you. Its purpose is to keep your neck and spine straight and to help healing by supporting your neck bones. Here are some guidelines for using this type of collar.
- Wear the cervical collar at all times. Don't stop wearing the collar until your doctor tells you to.
- Keep two collars on hand in case one becomes damaged or you need to remove one for cleaning.
- Check the skin under your brace daily for redness, tenderness, or drainage.
- Use chairs with arms. The arms make it easier for you to stand up or sit down; this puts less strain on your neck.
- Remove things that may cause you to fall, such as throw rugs and electrical cords.
- Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, and a shower chair in your bathroom.
- Arrange your household to keep the items you need handy. Keep everything else out of the way.
- Keep your hands free by using a fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things.
- Don't bend, twist, or reach until your doctor says it's okay.
- Don't lift anything heavier than 4 pounds until your doctor says it's okay.
- Don't move your head up or down or side to side.
- Nap if you are tired, but don't stay in bed all day.
- Don't drive until your doctor says it's okay or while you are taking opioid pain medication.
- If you have not been given instructions about physical therapy, be sure to ask your doctor about it.
Putting on the collar
Here are some guidelines for putting on the collar.
Getting ready to put on the collar
- Face the mirror.
- Gently slide the front piece of the brace up your chest and into place beneath your chin.
- Make sure the front piece rests on top of your shoulders and your chest.
- Rest your chin comfortably in the chin support.
Positioning the front piece
- Bring the elastic strap straight around the back of your head.
- Attach it to the other side of the collar. You don't need to tighten this piece. It holds the front piece in place and frees your hands while you secure the rest of the brace.
Positioning thebBack piece
- Place the back piece directly behind your head.
- Center the back piece.
- Bring both Velcro straps around to the front.
- Attach them to the front of the collar.
Completing the fitting
- Hold the front piece with one hand while tightening the back piece with the other.
- Make sure the sides of the collar overlap each other for proper side support.
- Make sure the collar fits closely against your neck.
Keeping the collar clean
- Remove the first collar.
- Put on the second (back-up) collar; fit it securely.
- Clean the removable chin and other padding of the first collar with soap and water.
- Wipe the elastic shell of the collar with soap and water, and then an alcohol swab.
- Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.
- Remember to keep appointments for physical therapy.
When to call your doctor
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following
- Severe back or neck pain
- Bruising and swelling on your neck or back
- Weakness, tingling, or loss of feeling in your arms or legs
- Loss of bowel or bladder function