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thomkat

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Hello Everyone-

Although I read through the forum daily, this is my first thread! Thanks to all of you who provide such caring responses.

My husband was diagnosed with ALS in June 2005. Up until now, we have used an Etac Shower chair both for toileting and for me to shower him. We have loved this chair and have recommended it to several people at our ALS clinic, but now it has become very uncomfortable for him. He has no strength in his neck, so his head just flops over and he says it hurts his back. I'm guessing that he needs a chair that tilts and has a headrest for support? Or someone also mentioned a shower bed that was sort of a cot mad of a mesh fabric and on wheels?

I look forward to your suggestions and recommendations.

Kathy
 

thomkat

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Thanks Al - I actually have their catalog as well. Just thought that I might get some feedback from someone who might could recommend one style over another...

Kathy
 

landscape

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Hello Kathy:
I don't have any answers for you but I'm interested in your problem since my husband has a major problem with his neck. Right now he is still able to shower without neck support but since he really prefers a bath we have a Voyager Track Lift on order and the sling that comes with it should have head support.

He uses both a Headmaster collar and a soft collar that I made for him. Neither really give satisfactory support but the soft collar gives him some relief from the Headmaster.

He also experiences back problems likely related to his neck position. The change in the neck and upper back affects the relative position of the rest of the spinal column. A roll in the small of the back offers some relief.

I'm interested to know what kind of head support your husband uses and how satisfactory it is.
 

CindyM

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Hi landscape. I think the soft collar you made might be of interest to folks. Any chance you could take a photo and post it? If you are willing, of course! Cindy
 

landscape

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When I get the opportunity I'll see if I can draw a diagram. I don't think the photograph is of much value because it does not show the interior.
Briefly, the collar is only different from most soft collars in that it has a more supportive and better fitted portion at the front. The usual, buy-at-your-local -drugstore collar is a flat piece of foam shaped to accommodate the chin etc. and covered with stockinette plus a velcro closure.

The middle third of the home-made collar (under the chin and extending almost to the angle of the jaw on each side) has a piece of very dense foam that has been carved from a block to form roughly a horseshoe shape from front to back and thus fitting around the neck. Additionally this portion has been shaped (cut out) on the upper surface where the chin rests. Each end has been angled and bonded to softer section of flat foam.

The softer foam is longer on one side than the other so that the closure comes at the side of the neck and is easier to do up than at the back. I have carved out the soft foam under the ears.

The whole is covered in soft polyester knit. I did not use stockinette as I find that it is rougher on the skin. The knit is a very low profile rib that is manufactured as a tube--the kind of thing you would use for collars and cuffs on a knit T-shirt. This stretchiness allows for making the cover a bit smaller than the foam and achieving a nice smooth fit.

Some wide hook velcro is sewn to one end of the collar and a portion of loop velcro to the other.

I use either an electric carving knife or a box cutter to carve the foam. It is tricky to sew the velcro onto the soft foam with the machine due to the bulk but it can be done. The bonding was done where I bought the foam--at a friendly maker of mattresses and other foam products.
 

CindyM

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thanks landscape. I get the idea. I am going to print and save these directions as I suspect that I may be needing a good neck brace one of these days. We have a local fabric store -family-owned, not a national chain- that sells foam in all shapes and sizes. But it is a good hint to go to a mattress factory if no other resource is available. Thanks for sharing. Cindy
 

thomkat

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CALS
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Wilmington
Sorry I haven't responded...been under the weather for a few days...

This is the link to the support collar that we use:
http://www.seattlesystems.com/products/catalog_app/detail.cfm?recordID=231&catSelect=3

If it doesn't open, go to seattlesystems.com and the product is under Orthopedics and is called the L.A. Wire Frame Cervical Orthosis.

It comes with two different closures - one is just a smooth strip that velcros to the front of the collar to secure, the other is a rigid neck/back piece for more support.

Hope that helps.

Kathy
 
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