Aspen Collar Fit and Care

The neck, or cervical spine, is made up of seven vertebrae called C1 to C7. The vertebrae, the bones felt in your neck and back, are the bony building blocks for your spinal column and protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord, a thick bundle of nerve cells, carries messages for movement and feeling to all parts of the body. Muscles and ligaments attach to the vertebrae and help stabilize the spine.

Though the neck is very flexible, the structures of the neck are at risk for injury due to strong sudden movements or force that may happen in accidents, such as falls or car accidents. This may cause fractures of the vertebrae, tears or stretching of the ligaments or strain of the muscles.

It is important to evaluate and treat these injuries due to the risk of damage to the spinal cord.

  • Pain or stiffness in the neck
  • Decreased movement or range of motion of the head or neck
  • Headaches

Some children must wear the Aspen collar for 24 hours a day to keep their heads and necks as still as possible, or immobilized, as part of the healing process.

It is important to keep the collar on and properly tightened at all times. Your child should only remove the collar -- with the help of an adult -- to wash his or her face and neck.

Your child should:

  • Wear the collar 24 hours a day
  • Shower or bathe with the collar on, then change the pad as instructed.
  • Lie down when changing the collar and pads.
  • Follow skin care instructions every day.
  • Continue activity restrictions until follow-up with your healthcare provider.
  • Take medications as instructed by your healthcare provider.

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms worsen or progress.

Soap, water, washcloth, towel and clean pads are needed as part of the daily ritual of care for your child.

  • Before taking off your child's collar, gather your supplies.
  • Have your child take a shower or bath before changing the collar pads.
  • Look at the collar and be familiar with where the Velcro straps end on the front of the collar. This will help when reapplying and tightening the collar to assure a proper fit.
  • Have your child lie down flat, with arms at the sides. Your child should lie still and not move his / her head or neck while the collar is changed. If he / she cannot lie still, have a second person hold your child's head.
  • Release the Velcro straps and remove the front panel of collar.  

Clean the Skin

  • Clean your child's neck with mild soap and water, gently wiping under the face, chin, and neck; rinse away the soap and gently dry skin; check the skin for redness or breakdown and notify your child's doctor if you see signs of breakdown; do not place powder or gauze padding under the collar.

To Change the Pad

  • Remove the pads from the front panel and apply a dry, clean pad; if the plastic is dirty, clean it with soap and water, or alcohol and dry it thoroughly before applying a clean pad; apply a pad by folding it in half with the gray side facing out; center the pad on the plastic panel and adjust it so the gray side grips the Velcro dots; the foam pad must cover all the edges of the plastic so the plastic does not touch the skin; if it doesn't, move the pad until it covers all the plastic.

Reapply the Front of the Collar

  • Squeeze the top and bottom of collar together and tuck the collar under your child's chin; the chin should come to the end of the chin piece for a good fit.
  • Roll your child onto his / her side by keeping the head, neck and body in a straight line. Have another person hold the front of the collar in place.
  • Remove the back panel of the collar. 

Clean the Skin 

  • Clean your child's neck with mild soap and water; rinse away the soap and gently dry the skin; check the skin for redness or breakdown on the back of the head and on the neck.

To Change the Pad

  • Remove the pad from the back panel and apply a dry, clean pad; apply a clean pad placing the gray side of the pad against plastic; push the Velcro straps through the slits of the pad then through the slots in the edge of the plastic; pull the straps tight to remove slack.

To Reapply the Back of Collar

  • Center the back panel of the collar against the back of your child's neck; make sure the support strap is at the top; logroll your child onto his / her back.

Resecure the Collar

  • Secure the Velcro on both sides of the collar.
  • Tighten each strap one at a time to remove any slack or looseness.
  • Your child's head is midline with the rest of the body and not tilted or turned to the side.
  • The chin comes to the end of the plastic chin piece.
  • The Velcro straps end at the same place on the front of the collar and readjust if needed.
  • No plastic is touching your child's skin.
  • Clean the dirty pads with mild soap and water. Allow them to air dry completely before reusing them.

Occipital Support Strap 

Only use this when your child is up and out of bed, and release it when he / she is lying down.

  • To tighten the support strap: Squeeze the back panel with one hand and loosen the strap from one side and pull it until it's tight; then reattach the strap to the Velcro.
  • To loosen the support strap: Loosen the strap from one side and allow the strap to loosen; then reattach the strap to the Velcro.
  • Skin breakdown
  • Worsening pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness in the arms or legs

It is very important to teach your child about all types of safety. Your child watches you, so you should model proper safety precautions.

Always make sure your child wears:

  • A helmet when riding a bike, in-line skating or skate boarding
  • A seatbelt when riding in a car -- and children 12 years old and younger should be in age-appropriate restraints and in the backseat when the car has a passenger side airbag

Last Updated 12/2013