Surviving a Spica Cast

So we’ve survived our ordeal with the hip spica cast and we’re now well on the road to recovery.  That being said, the 3.5 weeks that Kade was in his cast were NOT easy.  They were really, really hard and both Cliff and I did quite a bit of research on how to deal with and survive what we were going through… well guess what… there is not a whole load of information out there on how to PRACTICALLY get through the time your child spends in a spica cast.

In light of that fact, I thought I would post some of my tips and some advise in case anyone should ever find this blog as a result of them researching spica cast survival as well so first things first : what is a spica cast?  This pretty much says it better than I ever could.  Cliff and I also found this link to be very helpful.

That said there are some things that these links don’t tell you.  Hopefully my post here can better prepare you for the reality of living with a hip spica.

GENERAL TIPS

  • That cast is heavy.  Bend knee’s when lifting your child cos you will do serious damage to your back if you don’t.  You carry your child A LOT when they’re in a spica.  You need to take care of your body whilst doing it.
  • The spica can have some “rough” edges that can chaff and rub into your child’s skin.  Check for chafing sores DAILY.  The quicker you treat them the better.  We padded the chafing area’s with maternity pads or neck brace padding.  The one spot we didn’t’ think would chafe was the bottom of the cast on the back – just above the bum opening.  K got quite bad sores there.  We used a combination of bed sore cream called “miracle ointment” and bee’s wax to treat his sores which worked really well once we’d discovered them.
  • Check if your child can still be put into this car chair/booster seat so you can get around and OUT THE HOUSE.  We waited WAY too long to do this and nearly drove ourselves crazy with cabin fever.
  • Old items that you’d packed away (like your pram) suddenly become life savers – that cast is HEAVY – not having to carry your child around becomes a really, really GOOD thing.  Dig those items out of storage.

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SLEEP TIPS

  • Your kid is going to be uncomfortable.  Their sleep will be disrupted.  This is a FACT.
  • Try prop pillows under and around your child to help them be as comfortable as possible.

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  • If baby/child is edgy during sleep it could be due to cramp – gently massage the foot and rotate the ankles round – this helped with K quite a bit
  • Don’t be scared to let your child roll around and change sleeping position.  Lying in one spot all night is HORRID for them and the cast starts cutting into them.
  • Take turns being the one who sleeps with/near to the child.  Both of you don’t need to be tired.  (This can be difficult to do if the child gets attached to only one of you as happened with us – K would not allow Cliff near him most of the time but try to get this right, it really helps!)
  • USE the medication you are given every 4 – 5 hours if you have to.  I promise your child will not get addicted and the relief it gives EVERYONE is HUGE.

ENTERTAINMENT TIPS

  • Get out the house as much as you can.  Cabin fever mixed with sleep deprivation is not a good combination.
  • We used a table and chair set we had a lot so do stuff like drawing, puzzles, sticker books, magic colour pages etc.  Find something you have at home that you can use to prop your child up with to do activities on.

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  • Don’t be scared to put your child on the floor to figure out how to move on his/her own.  Again this is something we waited too long to do – doing it earlier would’ve saved us many a grey hair!
  • Use stuff like lego and money boxes with money to keep your child occupied.  Lego and money boxes were a GREAT source of entertainment for Kade.

CAST CLEANLINESS & MAINTENANCE

  • Keeping the cast clean is IMPOSSIBLE.  Really.  Don’t even try.  Just try keep the edges as neat and padded as you can.  Also try keep it as dry as you can as this helps prevent chafing.
  • Kade had a REALLY runny tummy so his cast was “christened” really early.  Don’t stress about it.  Clean it as best you can and I promise you will learn to live with the smell that the cast gets.  It is never as bad as you think it is.  Cliff and I always apologised to visitors and family who never even noticed the smell…
  • We padded the following area’s to try keep K as comfy as we could:
  1. around the legs
  2. the top of the cast along his back
  3. the bottom of the cast along his bottom
  • This Mom had a fantastic idea to keep smells at bay.  I didn’t personally use them but the vanilla essence trick helps.

Most of all I think I can say just keep focusing on the end goal.  It seems like that cast will NEVER come off and it does eventually.  Take it one day at a time and you WILL get through it.

Oh.  Keep your sense of humour handy too.  Cos humour keeps you sane.  Well mostly.

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6 thoughts on “Surviving a Spica Cast

  1. Sjoe. I knew it was hard but now that I read this I realise that I had NO IDEA! I’m so glad it’s over. For all of you. I know you really felt like you were losing it at times but you got through it. Well done. xx

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  2. I thank God I found you blog on your son’s progress in dealing with the healing of a broken femur. I am currently nearing the end of my son’s hip spica being removed! I was looking on the net hoping to find some idea about what to expect after if comes off and stumbled on your site! Honestly I cried reading everything you wrote, only cause it’s not til the end of the ordeal do you really realise what you and your child go through! My son is only 3 and broke his left femur on a jumping castle when another kid landed on him. It all happened so fast, and the amount of pain he was in was very upsetting for us all! His is a spiral fracture to! They put him in traction for 12 days in hospital then put him into hip spica cast so we could take him home as he was not coping in hospital at all! It was a huge difference when he came home, hard work for me but oh to see him eating and happier to be where he felt comfortable was worth it! Yes we had lots of melt downs along the way, I was and still am exhausted from lack of sleep! He didn’t like going out much and only wanted to go to close family and friends houses, so I can relate to the cabin fever, but I also had a lot of support from my parents, giving me a break once a week and look after him for me, otherwise I think I would be an emotional wreck! I deal with each day as it comes, tomorrow will be a review to see if the cast will come off, I personally am praying it does but of course want to make sure everything is ok to! There is not a lot of information for parents at all to deal with the trauma of a young childs recovery from a broken femur! I think that was the most stressful part of all, the lack of information and how to deal with it all while keeping your child from going insane! Thank you so much for sharing your little boy’s journey, I am so going to write up my son’s story when I get the strength to haha!
    Kyls

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    • And this is almost where I’m at now!! Totally agree that the lack of information is so disappointing! Even in the hospital, their education and support was sadly lacking. It is such a huge journey….and I had a five month old to care for too! I scrapped through,… Just!

      My son broke his femur on his 2nd birthday and had the cast off last week. He is crawling and scooting around, will pull up on the couch and was today sitting on his legs….but will not put the foot of the broken leg flat at all. I’m trying to research if this is normal or if possibly there is something else wrong….hoping someone reads this!!!

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  3. Pingback: Kids = Grey Hairs and Wrinkles | Communiqué

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