As a medical professional, you have probably already learned how to take care of patients who are wearing a cast. However, if you need a quick refresher, our handy guide below can help. (*Please note that this information is not designed to subvert or replace other medical best practices. Please defer to your own training and experience in all aspects of patient care.)
Check the patient’s circulation
One of the main concerns healthcare practitioners have about casts is that they will cut off the patient’s circulation. After application of the cast, look closely for signs of edema or circulatory impairment, like swelling, skin color changes, or coldness/numbness in the hands and feet.
Ensure that there is sensation in the affected limb by touching exposed areas of the patient’s skin and instructing him or her describe what he or she felt. Assess the patient’s motor ability by having the patient wiggle fingers or toes.
Check for signs of infection
It is crucial that patients recovering from injury do not develop an infection. Pay close attention to signs of infection, such as foul odors coming from the cast. Do not be afraid to lean down and smell the cast; this will help you catch potential problems early. A musty or moldy odor at the surface of the cast may be the first indication that something is wrong underneath.
Ensure the cast is in good condition
Check the integrity of the cast by regularly examining it for cracks, breaks, and soft spots. If the cast is disintegrating, it will need to be recast.
Prevent odor and infection with a waterproof cast lining
When prescribing casts for your patients, be aware that a waterproof cast liner can mitigate or eliminate many of the above issues. Unlike traditional cotton padding, waterproof cast liner material can be worn while the patient is showering or bathing. Patients with waterproof casts do not need to worry about protecting the cast with a bag or cast cover.
Waterproof casts can also be “flushed” out daily to remove dead skin and debris. This makes it easier for the patient or caretaker to clean beneath the cast, reducing the likelihood of odor and infection. To learn about how AquaCast cast liner material can help your patients, click here!