Homemade neck brace with good support
My goal was to make a neck brace with good support to be able to travel further as a passenger in a car.
For example to go to a osteopath or the hospital.
Therefor I would like to make a neckbrace that supports my head, but that is still flexible
Because I would be in a moving car, a hard fixed support will not work.
If possible, then I would like to transfer half of the weight of my head onto my shoulders.
On this page I show the things that I have tried to make a better neckbrace.
Normal neck brace
In 1993 I bought my first collar. It was not high enough for me.
A collar that is high enough and gives good support for me does not exist.
I have mentioned this problem with doctors several times.
Between 1998 and 2002 I went to the hospital for an appointment
with someone who can measure a collar. The told me that they also
could make a custom-made collar, but after many phone calls and persistantly
asking for it, it turned out that they could not make a custom-made collar.
A few years later I went to the hospital again to such a person,
and then everything happened in exactly the same way.
I can also find that I asked
my general practitioner (in Dutch) in 2002 about
a neck collar.
For many years, I used a firm and high neckbrace with a
inflatable neckbrace under it in a car as passenger.
It does not support very well and it does not fit very well.
Since 2008 this became a serious problem.
Normal neckbraces are made of polyether foam, therefor I thought that it would not be too hard
to make a neckbrace of polyether foam myself.
I started to make something with normal polyether foam, but that was too soft.
Then I tried everything with firm polyether foam. A shape that bends around my neck, or horizontal layers.
I was not able to make something that fits and supports my head.
In the photo is the most firm polyether foam that I could buy. I bought it in 2013.
A support of EVA foam
With a old backpack on my belly and a support made of green EVA foam, I thought that I could support
a neck brace. I have tried it. It did not work very well, because it is not flexible enough, that
caused wrong forces on my neck. I had a lot of troubles from it afterwards.
This foam has two components. After they are mixed together, it can be poured into some shape.
It creates a nice, even, somewhat flexible foam.
It could be good foam for a neckbrace, but I could not make a neckbrace with it.
The foam can be poured into a shape, but it can not be attached to something.
It is toxic and sticks very strong to the skin. It is not even possible to pull it from
the skin. It is therefor too dangerous to try to make something around my neck.
Alginate can be used to make a mold with a limited lifespan.
The alginate powder is mixed with water. After the mold has been made,
that mold can be used to pour something else in that mold.
It is used for example to make a torso of someone of gypsum.
It seems a good idea, because then I could try to make a neckbrace with a torso
of me, instead of directly on my own body.
I made a box around my neck, en poured the alginate in it.
I took special care that the box was closed, but sadly there was a hole in it.
Almost all the alginate ran out of the box, on the floor tiles outside.
It took a few years before it disappeared.
I could hire a team to come to my place and make a mold of my neck
I do not like to do that, because it is expensive, and I would have to sit still
for a long time.
I am also not sure if I could make a usable neckbrace once I have a torso of myself.
PCL (polycaprolactone) is a thermoplastic which becomes soft above 70°C.
By boiling water en placing the PCL in the water, it becomes soft.
When it cools down, it is possible to knead it before it becomes hard.
It can be compared with nylon, but it is softer and less strong.
I tried to make a shape for a neckbrace with PCL. My aim was for example to make a hard outer shell
with memory foam on the inside. However, I was not able to make such a large surface with PCL.
Varaform is a gauze made of threads and PCL (polycaprolactone).
By boiling water and putting the Varaform in the water, it becomes soft.
It can be used instead of gypsum.
I tried to make a neckbrace with Varaform, or else only the shape of my neck, so I could
make a neckbrace with that shape.
When it is soft, it is hard to handle. Different pieces do stick to each other,
but it does not result into a smooth and tight shape. I was not able to put it around my neck
and create a good shape.
Skin-friendly silicone with filler
Until then I tried to make a lightweight neckbrace. Because that was not successful so far,
I tried heavier materials.
There is skin-friendly two-component silicone. A filler can be added to it.
For example fumed silica is a skin-friendly filler.
It turned out to be hard to create a suitable curing time.
It is too liquid to attach it around my neck.
The two-component silicone was too liquid, but a normal tube silicone sealant is not that liquid.
But a normal tube silicone sealant does not cure inside.
It appeared that there was a simple solution for this. By mixing silicone sealant with corn starch it does cure.
It is called "Oogoo".
The moisture level in the corn starch (from the air) is sufficient to cure the silicone sealant through and through.
The disadvantage is that normal silicone sealant contains an antifungal agent.
There are often a few different antifungal agents in it, in quite large quantities.
Directly after mixing them, it becomes sturdy and it is hard to turn that into a certain shape.
In 2018 I tried to make something with it.
The ratio I used is: one silicone cartridge of 300 ml,
90 grams of cornstarch (one third of a pack) and about 40 ml of white spirit.
First I mix the cornstarch with the white spirit until I have a paste.
Then I add the silicone and I mix it with a paint mixing stick.
With this composition is adheres very well to itself, and I can remove pieces with a saw.
The smell of the white spirit remained strong, so then I started to use odorless white spirit.
It takes a few weeks before the white spirit has evaporated. When a lot
white spirit was used, the material shrinks some.
The odorless white spirit is still unhealthy.
There are solvents that are less unhealthy.
It was hard to make a good shape and it was very heavy.
So far, I'm not yet able to make a fitting shape.
I tried many gloves:
The best gloves to work with silicones are powder free, single use, disposable nitril gloves.
The nitril gloves are the blue and black gloves on the right in the photo.
With a brush applyable skin friendly silicone rubber
There is liquid skin friendly silicone rubber, that can be applied with a brush.
Type: Body Double Standard Set.
According to the description, latex gloves should not be used.
When cured, it has a smooth and shiny surface.
The oogoo the other silicone stick to it reasonably well, but it is possible
to tear them off with some force.
Skin friendly silicone rubber
Skin friendly silicone rubber can be used to make a shape by applying it directly onto my neck.
Those silicone rubbers are often too liquid or too thick, making it hard to mix.
In 2018 there was skin friendly silicone rubber, with the right thickness.
Bought at: polyestershoppen.nl
Price: 100 euros for 2 kg in 2018.
It is easy to mix, because one component is colored.
The mix ratio is 1:1, making it easy to make the right mixture ratio by weight.
It has the right thickness and the right curing time.
It does not stick too much or too little to the skin.
It is expensive, but everything about this product is okay.
When using latex gloves, it stays sticky in some parts.
With nitril gloves there is no problem.
With this silicone rubber, it was possible to make a neck collar.
It is hard to make a smooth surface or a thin layer with this
skin friendly silicone rubber.
When I tried to make it more liquid but it did not cure well.
The composition of this silicone rubber is probably a good match, and not possible to change.
This silicone rubber sticks well to oogoo.
Therefor I made it more firm with oogoo.
I closed the opening in the back (with the same silicone rubber) and then I made
the opening in the front.
It was easy to make a buckle on the front side.
I make a thin slab of oogoo and cut a strip out of it.
The clip (slip-lock) is attached to the strip and I stick that to the rest with more oogoo.
The resulting neck brace did not work at all.
When I made myself taller then it gave no support, en when I make myself smaller then
it pushes too hard.
So I removed the upper part and made it wider. On top came a piece of polyether foam.
I added a breast plate to attach the neck brack to, so it would not slide forward and downward.
This neck brace did support my head, but there were wrong forces
on my neck vertebrae.
Because I still had no neck brace, I decided to take an existing neck brace
and fill the missing lower part with skin friendly silicone rubber.
To put it on, I first put on the shape of silicone rubber.
I wear it on my skin, that prevents it somewhat from sliding forward
and downward. I have to keep my head straight up, to keep it in place.
On top of that comes the existing collar.
The shape of silicone rubber has a ledge that supports the existing collar.
Then I add an extra band around the collar for more firmness.
The neck collar is the highest model that I can buy.
The silicone rubber shape is what I need extra.
This turned out to be a success.
Suddenly I had a neck brace that gave support, in december 2018.
This neck collar was intended to wear as a passenger in a car to
be able to travel further.
Because this collar fits under my clothes, I tried if I could walk
with it. That went well.
With this neck collar I was able to walk every day for half an hour,
without negative consequences afterwards.
My neck problems became a daily trouble in 1992.
So it is 26 years ago, since I could have a daily walk.
That is half of my life.
I wonder if I can make the silicone shape lighter by letting it foam during curing
or by adding lightweight granules.
After taking a daily walk for three months I noticed a significant improvement
for my back, because my back muscles got stronger.
After taking a daily walk for six months, that was improved even further.
My daily walk is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles). Because of my neck problems I am unable
to make that distance longer.
While walking I take pictures of things that I notice.
At a distance of 1 km from my house is a lake with a jetty
to get in and out the water.
In August 2019, after 8 months of a daily walk of 2km,
my condition was improved enough so that I was able to walk there,
then swim a short distance and walk back.
That was a special moment in my life for me.
When I swim, I swim on my back without using my arms and I try to let my head
float in the water without using my neck muscles. That way I try to keep my neck as relaxed as possible.
With a wetsuit (shorty and hood) I was still able to go swimming in November.
I was not able to go swimming each day.
To swim for 15 minutes in cold water takes me about 7 hours.
I took the photo below of myself on November 6, 2019.
The temperature of the water is 11 °C and the air temperature is 10 °C and there was almost no wind.
On november 8 2019 I went swimming for the last time, because it was too cold.
Thanks to the swimming, my condition improved a little and there was more movement in my back and neck.
Because of that, I tried to take off my neck collar for the last part of my daily walk.
I started by taking off my neck collar for the last 400 meters. After a few months that caused
no longer problems.
In February 2020 my daily walk was often 2.2 km with the last 800 meters without my neck collar.
That caused extra problems, for example more headaches. I hope that it will slowly get better.
After two months I still did not know if that was too much or that it will get better.
In the winter months I went to a swimming pool twice.
It was not easy to swim on my back, because I sometimes bumped into others.
One time I hit the end of the bath with my head while swimming on my back.
The pool closed on March 13, 2020, because of the coronavirus crisis.
In April 2020 there were summer temperatures in the Netherlands.
With an air temperature of 20 °C (68 ° F) and a water temperature of 10 °C (50 °F)
and almost no wind I went swimming a few times already in April.
The photo below is from April 20, 2020.
In September 2020 I was able to swim to a green buoy 150 meters away.
So there and back is 300 meters.
I swim on my back for the major part, but I can now also swim with
Swimming with the front crawl is not possible for me because I can
not reach my arms forward very well since I spent more than two hours
in a dental chair (in Dutch) in 2017.
My wetsuit is all black, therefor I bought a orange swim buoy for safety.
Below is a photo with both the green buoy and the orange swim buoy.
When I don't go swimming, then I can walk that day 3.4 km (2.1 miles) of which
the last kilometer (0.6 miles) without neck collar.
In October 2020, I tried to stay warmer with a
vest with sodium acetate heating under my wetsuit.
The vest has two of those heating bags on the back.
Under my wetsuit didn't work properly, but when I use the vest while
walking back home then it works fine.
Around my neck I have a band with the third bag of sodium acetate heating
and I have a thermos with a hot drink with me that I drink while walking
My goal is to prevent me from shivering from the cold.
When I start shivering from the cold, my neck muscles are the first muscles that I can no
longer keep relaxed, while the most important thing for me is to keep my neck muscles
When I am home, then I take a hot shower to get all warm.
There is something attractive about swimming in cold water.
In the beginning it is only cold.
Now that my body is getting used to cold water, it is more pleasant
than swimming in warm water in summer.
At around 10 °C, every degree colder is a new experience.
November 28, 2020 was the last day before the winter that I went swimming.
The water temperature was 9 °C and the air temperature was 8 °C
and there was little wind. By swimming for only 10 minutes I did not start
to shiver from the cold afterwards.
Thanks to my homemade neck brace, it was easier for me to travel somewhere
as a passenger in a car. I was able to improve my condition in the last
two years, therefor it became possible to go to a
new dental practice (in Dutch)
in another village.
That was needed very hard, because the
dentists in my hometown (in Dutch) do
their job so bad, that I lost seven teeth because of them.
In December 2020, I noticed that I was getting a little warmer while walking.
That was not the case before, because of the mechanical pressure on my neck.
In January 2021, the water temperature was 5 °C.
That is far too cold for me to go swimming,
but I still walk by the swimming location during my daily walk:
In February 2021 there was even ice on the water.
I went swimming again at 31 March 2021.
My condition improved a little further by walking and swimming.
However, the stability of my neck and upper back did not increase.
That causes a lot of trouble a few times in 2021.
I made a separate page for that: januari 2021 (in Dutch).
Rights: The photos on this page are made by myself
and are Public Domain, unless otherwise noted.
Last change to this page: July 2021