When patients are fitted with a cast or splint, the biggest threat to their recovery is usually themselves. Bathing improperly when not wearing a waterproof cast liner, trying to scratch an itch with a sharp object, and inserting ice cubes into the cast are some of the most common causes for recasting. To mitigate these issues, here are some reminders to share with your patients.
(Note: This advice is not meant to supplement or replace other medical protocols. Always defer to your own training and judgement when treating patients.)
Take steps to reduce swelling
Let your patients know that mild swelling of the injured area is common during the first few days of wearing the cast, and may make it feel tight initially. To reduce swelling, the patient should keep the cast above the level of his or her heart, which can be accomplished by resting it on pillows. In addition, it may help your patient to occasionally move his or her fingers or toes.
Do not apply ice directly to the skin
Inform your patient that while it is acceptable to apply ice, covered with a thin towel, to the injury, it should not be applied directly to the skin, and ice cubes should not be inserted into the cast under any circumstances.
Keep the cast dry at all times
If your patient is not wearing a waterproof cast liner, then he or she will need to keep the cast dry while bathing or showering. This can be accomplished by taping plastic bags to the skin with tape, or using rubber bands to hold the bags in place.
Even when covered with plastic, however, the cast cannot be submerged, and water cannot be allowed to run over it. This is why a waterproof cast liner should be prescribed whenever possible, to increase the patient’s ability to wash and decrease the risk of infection.
Do not allow anything to enter the cast
During your patient’s recovery, nothing should enter the cast that could transmit bacteria or aggravate the injury. This includes sand, lotion, powder, food particles, dust, and debris.
Advise patients to cover the cast when eating to prevent food bits from getting inside, and opt for the pool instead of the beach (if wearing a waterproof cast liner.) Advise the patient to never stick a coat hanger, barbecue skewer or similar object in the cast to scratch an itch.
Take Care of Your Patients with AquaCast®
AquaCast provides waterproof cast liners to doctors and patients around the world. It is our goal to produce the highest quality waterproof casts in the healthcare market, helping patients remain active and comfortable during their recovery. To learn more about our products, contact us here.