Innovative neck support developed for motor neurone disease patients

5 August 2013

A collar that comfortably supports the neck of motor neurone disease (MND) patients and makes it easier to carry out common tasks has been developed by a multidisciplinary team from Sheffield.

The collar was developed to replace existing collars that need to be wrapped tight around the neck, causing discomfort. The new collar sits low on the patient’s neck and offers support along the contours of the neck muscles, making it much easier for patients to carry out everyday tasks such as eating, communicating and maintaining eye contact. It will be undergoing a comprehensive evaluation later this year.

Moya Briggs, who was diagnosed with the less aggressive form of MND four years ago, is one of the patients who chose to take part in the project, called ‘Head-Up’.

Moya said: “I hate the current collar I have to wear, absolutely hate it. When I’m wearing it I feel like an Egyptian mummy, all choked around my neck. For it to give me enough support I’ve got to have it really tight and when it’s tight I feel like I’m choking in it. It makes me feel as if I’m only partly communicating with the world."

On the new device, she said, “The whole device is very inconspicuous and provides so much more support. The snood itself feels like a second skin. It was wonderful for me because the muscles at the back of my neck usually feel the strain but I could instantly feel the relief in my neck.”

The award-winning ‘Head-Up’ project is funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme. The team was brought together and provided with early funding by the NIHR Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative (D4D HTC), which is hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

D4D brought together a multidisciplinary team including designers and engineers from Sheffield Hallam University’s Lab4Living, clinicians, clinical neurologists, MND nurse specialists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and medical engineering experts from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. MND patients also played an extensive part in the design workshops for the new collar. 


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