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Kids play, jump, hop, and do all kinds of physical stuff and sometimes they get injured too, which is very normal and can be taken care of with the least amount of medical intervention! However, sometimes kids may get fatally or severely injured which may result in broken bones and they may require a cast or plaster. If your kid has had an unfortunate fall or accident that has put him in a cast then this post is something that you can’t miss! In this blog, we will talk about how you can take care of your kid in such a situation and more!
When Does a Child Need a Cast?
Your kid may need a cast due to a number of reasons, such as broken bones or to help the bones and surrounding tissues to grow post-surgery for better healing. The cast helps in keeping the broken bones in place and are made of either plaster or fiberglass. The duration of the cast usually depends on the age of your child and the kind of fracture, which means that it can be put anywhere from 4 weeks to 10 weeks. If your kid has had a minor fracture, a splint can be used, which is not only adjustable but also covers the broken bone from either one or two sides. However, in the case of major fractures, the entire area will be covered with the cast and will be taken out after the bone heals.
How to Get a Cast
Whether a child needs a cast or not is established after taking an x-ray. However, sometimes the doctor may tell after looking at the injury that the child needs a cast but the X-ray is still taken for confirming and determining the type of the fracture. After the type of fracture is established, here is what your doctor will do:
Before Getting the Cast
The doctor needs to realign or set the broken bones before a cast is placed to ensure that the bones heal in the proper and straight manner. This can be either done through Closed Reduction, which is a process that involves using sedatives while the doctor realigns the broken bones or through Open Reduction, which is a surgical procedure that is required to realign more complex fractured bones and is performed under anesthesia.
Putting the Cast On
Putting the cast on is not a very complicated procedure but a fairly simple one. The doctor will take a few layers of soft cotton to wrap around the affected area that is followed by wrapping the area with plaster or fiberglass. Sometimes small cuts can be made in the cast to give room for any kind of swelling that may occur due to the injury. The wet cast dries up in some time, thus providing a protective covering for the broken bones to heal.
What Are Casts Made up of?
The casts can be either made up of plaster or fiberglass.
1. Plaster Cast
White powder is formed into a paste that is used to cover the soft cotton wrapped around the broken bones. This cast may feel warm initially and it firms up within 10 to 15 minutes. However, it may take up to two days for it to completely dry up. These kinds of casts are not waterproof.
2. Fiberglass Cast
The best thing about this cast is that it comes in many colors and the outer layer is water-resistant. However, sometimes the doctor may place a waterproof liner to make the cast waterproof. These casts are not only lighter but also cooler and stronger than plaster casts.
Types of Casts
The casts can be of many types; however, here are some common ones:
1. The Short Arm Casts
Such kinds of casts are used for wrists and forearm breaks or surgeries. The cast is placed from the knuckles up to the elbow area (below the elbow).
2. The Long Arm Casts
These kinds of casts usually cover the entire arm and are usually used in case of elbow, shoulder, and sometimes in case of forearm fractures too.
3. The Short Leg Casts
For ankle or lower leg fractures, these are the kinds of casts that will be used. These usually cover the area between the base of the foot up to the knee (below the knee).
4. The Long Leg Casts
These kinds of casts are placed from the upper thigh up to the base of the foot and are useful for lower leg, knee, and sometimes even in case of ankle fractures.
5. The Short Leg Hip Spica Casts
Also, known as body casts and usually cover the region from the chest to the knee to keep tendons and hip muscles in place, post the surgical procedure.
Dos and Don’ts to Keep Your Child With Cast Comfortable and Help in a Speedy Recovery
Here are some Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind for kids in long term cast care and short term cast care:
1. Do keep it dry
Make sure that your munchkin keeps the cast dry, which means no dips in the pool or bathtubs. Water can weaken the plaster or the fiberglass from the outer region and dampen the inner padding, which may result in skin irritation.
2. Don’t ignore any kind of severe or abnormal swelling
Some amount of swelling is normal, however, any kind of unusual swelling accompanied by numbness or tingling sensation that may appear blue or pale should be reported to the doctor at once.
3. Do keep the area elevated
Keep the affected area elevated for the first couple of days. This helps in reducing the swelling.
4. Don’t use any lotions or powder
Using any kinds of lotions or powders may cause more irritation rather than soothing it. Refrain from using any such products!
5. Do check the skin on a regular basis
Make sure you keep checking the skin for any kind of infection, blister, or rash. Report any such symptoms to the doctor, if they occur.
6. Do keep a tab on any kind of cracks
Sometimes cracks may form on the weak spots, get in touch with the doctor to get them repaired.
7. Do use a hairdryer for itching
Keep the dryer setting on cold and place it on the edges to shoot air inside the cast to soothe itching.
8. Don’t let your kid stick anything inside the cast
Discourage your kid from using any kind of object to stick inside the cast to soothe itching. If the itching is unbearable, the doctor may prescribe some medicine.
9. Do let him decorate the case
Let him or his friends scribble or draw something on the cast to keep him amused. Make sure no extra pressure is exerted on the affected area.
10. Do keep a check on any kind of pus or smell
If you spot any weird stink or pus, call the doctor as this may be one of the signs of skin infection.
Interesting Activities for Kids in a Cast
As soon the initial phase of pain and discomfort gets over, keeping the child fruitfully occupied can be a humongous task for the parents. Well, worry no more as we have some exciting activities that you can indulge your kid in:
Activities for Kids With Cast on Legs
For a child who has injured the lower part of his body, here are some activities that may consider:
- Walking : Your kid can walk around using a cane or crutches. Though it requires more upper body strength and practice, however, as your kid gets comfortable and proficient with time, it may not be much of a hassle.
- Swimming : Swimming is a great physical activity for your kid to kill some time and be physically active. However, make sure the cast is waterproof.
- Gardening : Watering the plants, weeding, etc are an exciting task for young kids or toddlers in a walking cast.
- Yoga : Some simple stretching or seating poses for the upper body is a great way of keeping your kiddo occupied.
- Leisure Activities : Low-impact activities that such as putting practice on a miniature golf course, badminton, bowling, etc are good choices.
- Upper-body skill activities : Throwing a ball, playing catch, shooting basket, etc are some upper body activities for kids in a foot cast to keep your child fruitfully occupied.
Activities for Kids With Cast on Arms
For kids who have injured their upper body areas such as arms, hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder can enjoy some of the following activities:
- Dancing : Well, not any jerky or intense moves but a child can enjoy light dancing, dancing in motion-controlled video games, and other such kinds of dancing activities.
- Walking or Hiking : A walk in the park, to the museum, to the nature center, etc can be a thrilling experience.
- Footwork Activities : Your kiddo can practice passing, kicking, or dribbling the ball or other kinds of footwork activities until he returns to the field.
- Swimming : The waterproof cast for kids is a great option as kids can spend some time splashing water in the pool!
- Broad games : Another fun activity is board games that can keep your sweetie pie engrossed for hours at a stretch.
- Watching Movies : Killing time with movies is undoubtedly one of the best things that kids enjoy.
When to See a Doctor
If casts or sprints are placed properly and care is taken, complications are a rarity! However, sometimes certain kinds of complications may crop up due to various reasons. Therefore, if your child experiences any kind of alleviated pain, numbness, tingling sensation, etc, you need to call your doctor right away. Also, if the cast becomes loose, there is any kind of skin infection, blisters, the skin around the cast becomes raw and red, and other such symptoms crop up, medical help should be sought!
How Is a Cast Removed?
After the broken bone heals, your doctor will use a small electrical saw to cut the kid’s arm cast, leg cast, or other kinds of casts. Do not worry, this saw isn’t sharp to hurt the skin and is carefully managed by your doctor to remove the plaster or fiberglass cast. Never try to remove for cut the cast at home as this is the work of a professional and best handled by them alone!
Kids get hurt and it is a part of growing up, so don’t worry and get worked up! Before you even know it your little one would be running around the house doing all sorts of mischief! Here’s wishing your bundle of joy a speedy recovery!