Feature: Saving the Day with the HALO Service

Date: 16 December 2022

Time: 09:00

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In October last year, Liverpool FC Women's Goalkeeper Rylee Foster was involved in a serious road accident in Finland, which meant she was thrown from the vehicle at high speed. The then 23-year-old sustained several fractures to the bones in her neck as well as multiple serious injuries to the rest of her body. She as stabilised in a hospital in Helsinki and flown back to Liverpool a week later. It was at that point that clinicians at LFC asked for experts at The Walton Centre to review Rylee’s scans. 

Rylee said: “They gave me a call when I was having breakfast with my family and told me to go immediately to The Walton Centre to be fitted with a Halo jacket as soon as possible. Without it I would’ve risked severe injury, maybe even paralysis, because my fractures were actually separating further apart.”

The Halo is an external fixation device, which consists of an external metal frame that attaches to the head with four screws. Once fitted, it reduces the weight off the head on the neck and stops any movement of the neck, allowing the fractures to heal and repair.

Advanced Nurse Practitioner Keren Smallwood fitted Rylee with the Halo, and leads a specialist service supporting patients with neck and spinal injuries. She said: "We knew very quickly that Rylee’s neck needed immobilising straight away. The Halo system the patients are fitted with stops movement of the neck bones and supports the fractures whilst they heal. Like putting a broken arm in a plaster cast, the neck needs that isolated time for the bones to fuse back together, so they can heal properly. The Halo system is worn 24 hours a day and cannot be removed for the length of time they are in it, usually a minimum of three months. The patients attend clinic every two weeks for us to check the system and the skull pins, which means we usually get to know the patients really well. Rylee managed very well, she was a pleasure to work with.”

After several months in the Halo, Rylee had scans which showed that her fractures were healing. The device was removed and replaced with a hard

Rylee said: “I was so relieved to have it removed, living without being able to turn your head or look down was annoying! But I am so grateful because it essentially saved my health and mobility. The support from The Walton Centre has been exceptional. They’ve been on hand to answer questions – from me and my coaches – and it means such a lot. It could mean that I can get back on the pitch again and play football!”



Notes to editors

Further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact the Communications Team at The Walton Centre on 0151 556 3397 or wcft.communications@nhs.net

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is the only hospital trust in the UK specialising in neurology, neurosurgery and pain services. Although the majority of patients come from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, Lancashire and the Isle of Man, for some specialist treatments of complex disorders we see patients from all parts of the country, referred by their GPs or other neurologists, neurosurgeons and pain clinicians.

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. The independent regulator of all health and social care services in England published its rating on Friday 21 October 2016, following announced and unannounced inspection visits to the Trust in April 2016.

For more information please visit: www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk or follow the Trust on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Lower Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool L9 7LJ
0151 525 3611

  • Summary:

    In October last year, Liverpool FC Women's Goalkeeper Rylee Foster was involved in a serious road accident in Finland, which meant she was thrown from the vehicle at high speed.