Using Your Cervical Orthosis (Brace or Collar) at Home
(PMT and/or Philadelphia)
Purpose of the Cervical Orthosis
Your cervical orthosis (brace) helps you to
control your neck posture, reduces pain,
prevents further injury, and promotes
Figure 1 Philadelphia Collar
Figure 2 PMT Collar
Wearing your Brace
Your brace should reduce or prevent
unwanted motion in your neck. By changing
your movements (i.e. turning your head and
chest together in the direction you want to
look), you should be able to do many normal
activities by yourself or with a little help
from caregivers or assistive devices. Ask
your doctor for exact guidelines or
Preparing for your trip home
Arrange for someone to drive you. Bend at
your hip and knees to keep your head, neck
and back straight when getting into and out
of a car.
Taking Off and Putting On your Brace
You will need help to remove the collar.
You must be lying flat. Your helper should
undo the Velcro straps and remove the front
of the collar. Once the front of the collar is
off, you must keep your head and neck still.
Your helper should change the front pads
before removing the back of the collar. Your
helper should help you keep your head still
while gently sliding the back of the collar
out from behind your head. Your helper can
then change the back pads and slide the
collar back into place while holding your
head still. Your orthotist and/or therapist
will show you how to do this. The back
piece overlaps the front of the PMT collar.
If your doctor says it is okay to shower, you
must wear your collar while showering.
If you were fitted with a collar before you
came to the hospital (or in the emergency
room) and still have it (a beige-colored
collar known as a "Philadelphia Collar"),
you can wear it to shower. It is made of
closed-cell foam that does not absorb water.
Change back to your regular collar after the
You will have two sets of pads. If you
shower in the PMT collar, change to a dry
set of pads after your shower. Change the
pads one at a time to avoid being confused
as to which pad goes where.
Sleeping in the Brace
Most patients wear the brace full time,
taking it off only at the end of treatment.
Your doctor will tell you if you can take off
your brace while sleeping (or lying down).
Any major changes in your condition may
result in your doctor changing his
instructions to you during the course of your
Cleaning the Outside of the Brace
Wipe off the outside with a damp or soapy
cloth, and then dry. The straps can air dry
while the brace is being worn.
Cleaning the Inside of the Brace
Remove the pads that are attached by
Velcro. Put in a new or clean set of pads.
Wash the soiled pads in mild soap, rinse
well, and air dry. Do not leave them to soak.
Do not use heat to dry them.
If you shave your face, it is best to have
someone help you to shave. It is a well-
trained habit to move your head and neck
while shaving. For years, you have tilted
your head back to shave your neck. You
must not do that now. Remove the collar as
above and shave while lying flat. If someone
else shaves you, you can focus on keeping
your head still. Your helper can also help to
hold your head still.
ξ Eating and drinking will be awkward
at first, as you can't look down at
your plate or tilt your head back to
drink. Use a straw to drink, raise
your table or use a low chair to get
your plate as high as possible. Tuck a
napkin or towel under your chin
(between chin and collar) to catch
ξ Shirts that button are easier to get on
and off than t-shirts.
ξ Use caution when going down stairs,
as it is hard to look down. Stand at
the top of the stairs, hold the
handrail, and bend at the waist to
look down the stairs to make sure
your path is clear. Hold the handrail
at all times, above all when going
ξ You also need to be careful when
walking on any uneven surface, or
sidewalks that may have sudden
changes due to roots raising some
squares. Be very careful if it may be
icy, since you may not be able to see
a patch of ice.
ξ While you are here in the hospital
and in bed, ask visitors to come up to
the head of the bed to talk to you.
They may not know that you can't
turn your head to look at them or see
them when they are at the foot of the
How long do I need to wear the Brace?
Your doctor will decide how long you need
to wear your brace. You must take care to
follow your doctor’s advice even if you feel
better and would like to stop wearing it
sooner. Your doctor will check your
progress and will decide what is in your best
What should I do if I need adjustments to
my cervical collar, new pads or concerns
about the collar?
Patients should call the Orthotics Clinic
at (608) 263-0583
What should I do if my neurological
symptoms get worse?
If you have more numbness, tingling, pain
or are less able to move or do daily
activities, call your doctor.
Patients of the neurosurgery clinic: please
call (608) 263-1410.
Patients of the Spine Clinic: please call
After hours, this will give you the paging
operator. Ask for the resident on call for
your clinic. Leave your name and phone
number with the area code. The doctor will
call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call
1-800-323-8942, ask for your clinic.
Your health care team may have given you
this information as part of your care. If so,
please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given
to you as part of your care, please check
with your doctor. This is not medical advice.
This is not to be used for diagnosis or
treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you
should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this
information. If you have an emergency,
please call 911.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #5409s.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 1/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#5409.