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How To Help Your Child Cope With A Cast For 6+ Weeks

Accidents are part of childhood and sometimes that means breaking an arm or a leg. A broken bone is painful and frightening for kids and their parents. Luckily, most of the injuries can fully resolve. However, this does take time. You will need to help your child manage a cast should he get one. There are several things to keep in mind when assisting your child with a cast.

If your child breaks a bone, they will likely be fitted with a cast. A cast is made of either fiberglass or plaster. They are custom made and intended to hold a bone in place while it heals. Recovery lasts from a few weeks to a few months. Casts help children's arms and legs recover and return to normal, but it does take time and a bit of work.

Managing Swelling

After a serious injury, swelling occurs in the body. During the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours after getting a cast, your primary focus should be on bringing down the swelling. You will need to help your child understand what you are doing and help him get through the boredom and difficulty he will face.

There are three things your child will need to do to bring swelling down: Elevation, Ice, and Exercise.

Keeping the limb elevated is very important. Prop your child's leg up comfortably and allow him to watch TV or do his homework in this position. Talk to your child's teacher about having him set with the leg elevated during class time.

Prepare ice packs for your child. Properly icing the cast is essential. Ensure that the ice is packed loosely and wrapped around all sides of the injury.

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Remind your child to move and stretch his hand and fingers or foot and toes. Make this into a game and do it with her.

girl with a cast
Credit: iStock / monkeybusinessimages

Waiting For The Cast To Dry

If your child has broken his foot or leg, he may be fitted with what is called a walking cast. A walking cast needs to dry completely before it can be walked on. A fiberglass cast takes about an hour to harden, while a plaster case can take up to three days.

Keep your child comfortable and entertained for the duration of the time he is not permitted to bear weight on his feet. Keep him busy with puzzles, games, and do not worry about his screen time limit. Encourage him if he becomes frustrated.

Keep The Cast Clean and Dry

Make sure your child keeps her cast free from any sand, dirt, or mud. Instruct her to never cut the cast or pull out any of its padding. Only a doctor can remove or alter a cast safely.

Casts need to stay dry. Assist your child in the bath or shower. Wrap the cast in plastic so it does not get wet, and ensure that is never submerged or under running water.

Manage Itching and Discomfort

Unfortunately, the skin under a cast can become itchy. This is especially problematic when it gets warm and sweaty. If your child has an itch, either knock the outside of the cast over the area or blow cold air into the cast. He should never try to stick anything into the cast to relieve an itch. Nor should you apply and creams or powders. Call your doctor if the itching becomes unmanageable.

What To Check For

Parents need to check in with their kids and monitor for any issues. Ask your child frequently if she is experiencing any pain, numbness, tingling, or stinging. Make sure that she can move her fingers or toes freely, and that they are not swollen. Check for raw or red skin or excessive swelling. Call a doctor if you notice any of this, or any drainage, a bad odor, or a stain on the cast.

Casts will usually become loose after the swelling goes down and your doctor will fit a new one for the duration of the recovery time. However, contact your doctor sooner if the case becomes excessively loose or feels tighter than before.

Make It Fun

Casts take patience and hard work, but no one can argue that they aren't worth the trouble. Remind your child that he is investing in getting himself fixed up. Go even further to make him feel special. Decorate the cast and take photos with it. And don't forget the classic: get all his friends to sign it.

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