How to Size a Cervical Collar

If you think there is even a slight possibility that a person has a cervical spine injury, then it is very important to keep them as immobile as possible until they can be examined by a doctor and x-rays can be taken. One way to keep them immobile before being diagnosed is with a cervical collar, also called a neck brace. However, the person may also need to wear this collar if a doctor determines they are suffering from a cervical spine injury. Keeping the area immobile is part of the treatment process.

Hold out your hand and extend all of your fingers. Tuck in your thumb. You will use this hand position to measure what size cervical collar is needed.

Place your extended fingers against the patient’s neck. Your little finger should almost be touching the patient’s shoulder. Count how many of your fingers it takes to reach the jaw line. Remember, sizing a cervical collar is not an exact science because there aren’t that many sizes, so what you’re going for is your best estimate.

Find the right size collar for the patient by placing your extended fingers on the side of a cervical collar. Your little finger should be at the bottom edge. Remember how many fingers it took to reach the patient’s jaw line in the last step. Once you get to that many on the cervical collar, you should have reached a pin. If not, you need a different size collar.

Continue testing collars with your hand measurement until you find one that will most likely fit the patient.

Ask someone else to hold the patient’s head in place while you put on the cervical collar. Place the collar around the patient’s neck and fasten it. All collars are made a little differently, so be sure to practice fastening it before you put it on the patient.

Schedule an appointment for the patient to return to be reevaluated about two weeks after you fit them for the cervical collar. Instruct them to wear the collar at all times during those two weeks.

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