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Cervical Collar Use and Care Guide

What is a Cervical Collar?

A Cervical Collars, or c-Collar, limits movement of the neck and protect the spinal cord. Your child will wear a Cervical Collar to help with healing, and help recover faster. A medical professional will make sure your child has the right size collar and that it fits well.

When should my child wear the Cervical Collar?

Most children need to wear the C-Collar all of the time, usually 24 hours a day, depending on what your healthcare team says. Do not take it off to bathe or shower unless your healthcare team says it’s ok. The c-Collar can be removed to check your child’s skin underneath, with the help of a second person, but must be put back on right away.

When do I check my child’s skin underneath?

Check your child’s skin under the c-Collar once in the morning and once at night. Look at all places where collar touches the skin, especially around the edges of the collar, to be sure no sores are developing.  Call your clinic right away if you notice your child’s skin looking different or has no sores.

How will the C-collar stay clean?

Your child needs to leave the collar on while showering or taking a bath. If your child needs a shower or bath, do that before changing the pads. You will get two sets of pads. All pads are reusable and can be cleaned if dirty.

REMOVING THE COLLAR AND CHANGING THE PADS

You will need two people to help remove the collar and change the pads. Before starting, be sure you have another person available to help.

  1. Have your child lay on their back on a flat surface without pillows or blankets underneath them.
  2. Look at how tight the straps are on the sides of the collar. It may be helpful to mark this or to take a photo to help you remember
  3. Person one should stand at the head of the child and put their hands on the child’s shoulders, using their forearms to help hold the child’s head. This person will hold the child’s head and neck in this position until collar is back on.

Person two will complete the rest of the steps

  1. Undo the Velcro straps
  2. Gently lift the front piece of the collar off
  3. Pull the pads off of the panel and set to the side—do not throw them away
  4. If the plastic of the collar is dirty, wash it with soap and water. Dry it with a towel before putting it back on
  5. Put the new pads on the collar. They will stick to the Velcro and should cover all plastic edges. This helps protect your child’s skin. The white side of the pads should face your child
  6. Gently wash and dry skin, look for any changes to the skin or sores. Do not put anything on the skin such as lotion or powder. If you notice sores, call your clinic right away.
  7. Slide the back of the collar out from underneath your child
  8. Pull the pads off of the panel and set to the side—do not throw them away
  9. Place the clean pads on the back panel the same way you changed the pads on the front
    1. The white sides of the pads should face your child
  10. Roll your child, with their arms at their sides and feet together (also called a log roll) to wash the other side.
    1. Have them put their arms at their sides
    2. With person one still holding the child’s head and neck, gently roll up on their side
    3. Your child should roll without bending or twisting their body
  11. Gently wash and dry skin on the back of the neck and upper back, look for any irritation to the skin or sores. Do not apply anything to the skin such as lotion or powder. If you notice sores, call your clinic right away.
  12. Roll child back onto their back, being careful not to bend or twist your child
  13. Put the front of the collar back on by squeezing the sides and tucking it under the chin. Place the chin piece plastic even with the end of your child’s chin. Some types of c-Collars (Aspen®) have dots to check. You should not be able to see the dots on the chin pad.
  14. When the front is back on, slide the back of the collar on, making sure that it is centered
  15. Secure the Velcro on both sides. Check to be sure:
  • The Velcro straps are even on both sides
  • Adjust each side, one at a time, to match the tightness before taking it off

CHECK THE FIT

When the collar is back on, check to make sure it is on correctly. Check to be sure that:

  • Your child is looking straight forward (midline) and not tipped to the side.
  • The chin piece plastic is even with the end of the chin. If your child has an Aspen® c-Collar, you should not be able to see the dots on the chin pad.
  • The straps are as tight as they were before collar was taken off.
  • The pads cover the plastic and there is no plastic touching the skin.

CLEANING AND DRYING THE PADS

  • Hand wash pads with mild soap and warm water. Do not machine wash or use bleach.
  • Rinse completely to make sure all the soap is out.
  • Squeeze pads with a towel to get the extra water out.
  • Place on a clean towel and let air dry. Do not put the pads in the dryer or use a hair dryer.

Questions?

This is general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Reviewed 5/2022

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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