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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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Neck Brace Question
Jul 18, 2009
[COLOR="Blue"]Neck Brace Question

Hello everyone, my name is Ashley and I am brand new to this board but not new to neck surgery. My first surgery was in 2007, I had a 2 level fusion done at c4-c5 & c5-c6, everything went well after the surgery and I was ecstatic post op when my doctor told me I did not need any collar or brace after the surgery. Unfortunately, that fusion failed and so now I am looking at surgery number 2; I will be having a redo of c4-c6 + he is doing c3 (3 levels in total). My question to everyone here is post-op bracing?? .My Doctor (different doc) tells me that after my surgery I will need to wear a brace for 10 - 12 weeks, (not looking forward to that but if it helps me fuse, then I am all for it) this is where I need everyone's help. My Doctor really encourages patient participation (yes, I could not believe it either!), and so he has actually given me a choice between a Minerva, a SOMI or a Miami-J Collar with the Thoracic Extension? He says I can choose the one that I feel most comfortable in. (or at least as comfortable as a neck brace can be)

I have done some research on these but have had a hard time getting much helpful info – can anyone help ? If ANYONE out there has experience with any of the above braces, your feedback (good or bad) would be very helpful in my decision.

He says, from a medical standpoint, all are about the same in controlling cervical movement
so I just need to pick one that I will be the most comfortable in. My pre-op brace fitting is scheduled for Friday.

Thanks for everyone’s input

trust me when i say, and i KNOW others will more than likely back this up, not all collars are created equal or will just even 'fit' right for your particular neck size. i personally take a pediatric size just becasue of neck size. it does not matter how old you are, it comes down to YOUR individual neck size only.

the best POSSIBLE thing you can do for yourself is to get this collar 'fitted' to gear to your neck size pre op. my very first c spine surgery i failed to fuse, but my collar was wayyy too big on me too. that much i did know. the second time around(having had to do what you currently are) they actually sent me for the fitted collar(i was never actually even told the first time i even had this option) and things were just sooo much more comfortable. i had a peds miami J collar. they really are the best in just the way they make them so the one area does not come up over your ears or the base,when fitted right,does not dig into your shoulders either. all in all,it really was a pretty comfy collar as collars go,ya know?

but the real key here is to simply get this fitted for YOUR neck size, period. that IS what matters the most for you and the best chance at full fusion. just having someone who works with orthotics is the person that really needs to be doing the fit. i told the guy when i walked in that i already knew that i would be fitted into a peds size. he did not believe me til we went thru every other and ended up with, you guessed it, a peds. the "label' does not matter here, its the overall fit that matters most. just make sure you have someone very experienced in fitting this and it should work out fine for you. i do like that miami j tho. its just built better and geared more for comfort and keeping alignment too. the fit has to be somewhat comfy since you are going to be living in this for awhile.

i personally will never understand actual surgeons who do fusions who do NOT actually just recommend a collar post op. this IS the splint that just makes certain those bone ends stay touching so the bone can fuse at all ya know? i do wish you luck with this. just get that good fit for you and it should be okay this time around. the second time was the charm for me. i hope that helped some. i am sure others will be popping on here at some point. there are other threads here on just this subject that you can pull up just doing a search on collars on this spinal site too. just an FYI for ya. please let me know how things go hon, good luck with that surgery. Marcia
I'm with Marcia. Find a brace that fits you well and that you are comfortable with as you'll be wearing 24/7...including while sleeping and my doc even made me wear it in the shower. Did it help? Yup....well fused from C3 to T1....and I fell 3 weeks after surgery. Lost my balance leaning over frontwards and fell back onto my rear and then rolled back hitting my head on the fridge. No damage!

I did have the one with the thoracic extension but I found it didn't work well as I'm slightly "well endowed" ad it kept slipping upwards. So I ended up with a Miami J without the extension and that was great. Didn't want to take it off when the time came. Meant using my very sore neck muscles.

Good luck.............Jenny
Hello Ashley

I have not been around this board much lately but I saw your question and did want to get back to you to see if I could help.

I have been involved professionally in Orthotics (braces) for the last 20 years and my specialty is cervical and spinal work. Consequently, I have fitted pretty much all types of cervical supports from soft collars to rigid braces to Halo's so I am very familiar with the types of braces your doc is looking at. I also spent 8 weeks in a SOMI Brace after 2 level cervical fusion in "93" so I know what a challenge those brace can be!

I agree 100% with Marcia, one of the most important things in looking at your brace selection is to make sure that the brace, what ever one you and your doc decide on, is properly fitted to you. All these braces are different and so are our bodies so please, please make sure you have a qualified Orthotist fit you. Make sure you look for a certified "CO" or "CPO" when you set up your appointment for your fitting.

As for comfort and restriction, probably the Miami-J w Thoracic Extension would have the least amount of restriction but is actually fairly comfortable to wear, However, it can get hot in the summer time and some female patients are hard to fit with that brace due to the large plastic chest piece, like Jennybyc mentioned. Falling somewhere in the middle is the SOMI which is going to provide good restriction and fit for most body types. Patients, after their initial shock, find it to be much cooler and less confining to wear than a collar type brace. The Minerva would be the most restrictive of those options but provides excellent cervical support, however, it is bigger (with a much larger head and chin piece than the SOMI) than the other two options. Again, many patients I have worked with, after their initial "OMG" shock, find it to be cooler and less "confining" to wear than a collar type brace but it will definitely immobilize your Cervical and thoracic spine from your chin to your waist.

You might want to see if your brace shop would try to fit you with all three and see which one works the best for you, keeping in mind that fit and comfort (relatively speaking) are the most important things.

Please let me know if I can answer any other questions, and, if one of those does not work for you, I know of many other types of Orthosis that could work as well.

Hey Everyone,

Thanks so much for all the helpful advice as I try and prepare for my fusion surgery. I really do appreciate all your comments and input.

I have an appointment today at the Orthopedic Brace facility and have actually talked to the lady that will be doing my fitting. She comes highly recommended by my Doctor and is a CO (certified orthotist, thanks Braceguy!) We discussed my upcoming surgery and the brace option my Doctor is looking at. I was impressed on how knowledgeable she was and the fact that she took time to answer all my questions w/o feeling rushed. She said that they have all three brace options in stock and will try and fit each one if need be so I really do feel better about this now than I did last week.

Jennybyc, how long were you in the Miami-J with the Extension?? Did it ride up because it was not fit correctly or was it because of your "well endowed" chest? I too am fairly large up there so well have to see. Other than it riding up, did you find the Miami-J w ext OK to wear and how was the comfort? My Doctor said he would not allow me to have just the Collar w/o the torso extension - too bad!

Stephanie, thanks for the feedback on the SOMI, it sounds like it worked really well for you and the end result is positive. That may be a good option for me, well just have to see. My Doctor did say that he has used a lot of the SOMI's and Minerva's over the last few years with over a 90% fusion rate so I think that is worth a few months inconvenience (at least that is what I keep telling myself -LOL!!)

Thanks again and wish me luck, I will keep everyone posted

Hi - I have had multiple cervical surgeries and always wore a brace for about 12 weeks each one. I wore Miami J and was about as comfortable as you can be in a neck brace. The first couple weeks are hardest, but then you adjust. I even had to sleep in it where some are allowed to take it off at night. I am short in stature and my neck is short and they were able to fit me just right. I agree with everything from others - I went and had it pre-fitted prior to surgery.

I lined it in spots it was irritating my skin with some lightweight fur like fabric and it was wonderful. Also if you get Miami J be sure to get 2 sets of pads, so you can wear one, wash one set.

Good luck!

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