In today’s world, traditional plaster casts are a disappearing entity. While there are still injuries that lend themselves to plaster casts, fiberglass is the current standard of care, being durable and strong while also much lighter than plaster.
Kids being kids, it’s sometimes a challenge to keep the cast clean. The traditional signing of casts isn’t a problem, if your child’s dressing allows for that. Cast care is more about what gets inside or what threatens the integrity of the cast. Bones take time to knit, so preserving the condition of the cast is crucial for your child’s healing.
Don’t worry, at 360 Orthopedics, we’ll give you the care instructions you need that match the specific type of cast your child receives. We specialize in pediatric orthopedic care, so we know the common pitfalls that you’ll encounter during your child’s recovery.
The reasons for a cast
Typical childhood misadventures sometimes result in broken bones. Normally, these aren’t difficult injuries to recover from, but they do require specific care to ensure that bones heal properly to prevent problems later in life. Casts may also be used after surgery, again to make healing predictable.
Immobilization is a key role assigned to casts, but it’s not all they do. Holding the fractured bones firmly in place reduces the amount of pain your child experiences while the compression provided by the cast helps to keep swelling under control.
Both fiberglass and plaster casts start with the same two fundamental layers. The stockinette goes against your child’s skin. It’s oversized, longer than the cast will be, so the ends can fold over into a cuff that holds the second layer together. This is thick cotton padding that protects and stabilizes your child’s limb inside the cast.
Fiberglass casts get warm as the material hardens. This warming effect is about the equivalent to normal bath temperatures and the effect lasts only about 10 to 15 minutes. Both fiberglass and plaster casts are white when applied and hardened, though your child can pick a final color for the outer shell of a fiberglass cast.
3 ways to keep your kid’s cast clean
Some children are natural dirt magnets and it’s possible their cast will look worse for wear before you get home. The cleanliness of the outer shell isn’t a particular concern except when it exhibits dirt like sand, gravel, or other substances that could find their way inside the cast.
1. Keep dirt and debris out of the cast
With the stockinette and padding, there’s not a lot of room in your child’s cast. If they’re cleared for play by our staff, take reasonable steps to assure that foreign objects stay out of the cast.
2. Consider a cast cover
Washable cast covers can help to keep your child’s cast protected from dirt and spills. The cover may even provide a cushioning layer to help the cast resist damage from bumps and other impacts.
3. Keep the cast dry
Though you might not consider water to be dirt, in most cases casts and water don’t mix. Use a waterproof cast cover or improvise with plastic bags and tape for bathing or swimming. Sometimes fiberglass casts can be made waterproof. Talk to us to find out if this is possible for your child’s situation.
Call or click to book a consultation with 360 Orthopedics if your child needs a cast or follow-up orthopedic care after a bone fracture. We’re here to help so contact us today.