15 answers

Cast Removed from 4 Year Old and Now She Won't Walk!

Hi there! Wondering if anyone else has had a young child with a broken leg. Our daughter did great once she got her cast on (tibia and fibula broken, toes to mid-thigh cast length) and she got it off three days ago and will not put any weight on that leg. I am going crazy trying to come up with ways to coax her to walk but have run out of ideas...Any suggestions or advice?

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It's normal. My son has had several broken legs (genetic bone condition) and it always takes him some time to get going again.

My favorite trick was to put in the stroller and take him to a toy store. If he wasn't ready, he would just sit there. But more often than not, those toys would call to him and he would walk to reach them!

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My 5 year old girl broke her leg last year. She was a trooper through it all. When the cast came off after 6 weeks, the doc told me she may limp for a short time as she gets re-acquainted. They are typically scared to put pressure on it for fear it may break again. She actually limped for about a month. I was concerned at first, but really, as soon as we stopped calling attention to it, it went away. She is perfectly fine and plays as hard as she once did!

Hi S.,
My husband jumped off a horse and broke his fibula in two places and had a piling fracture of the tibia(it was crushed), had to have an external fixiter to hold the bone apart so it would grow the amount needed to not have a short leg. After the cast was removed he was put in a walking boot. He got around great, but when the boot was removed he could hardly walk, and was in a lot of pain. He was so depressed. It had been a two year healing process and he still couldn't walk without pain. Have you spoken with your doctor about any kind of physical therapy? Does she have full range of motion in her ankle?

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If your daughter isn't walking you need to know the cause before you can figure out the cure. Four year olds don't usually like to be still, so if you haven't had her evaluated as to range of motion by a physical therapist, that would be a good place to start. The broken leg bones are so different than an arm break because they carry the whole weight of the body.
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Remember 4 years olds can be stubborn and know what pushes your buttons. Stop focusing on it. Also, don't carry her! If she knows you will cave in and carry her, she has no motivation to walk. Let her scream and cry and crawl. Quietly reassure her that her leg is fine and she can walk on it. You can be compassionate and firm at the same time. And be consistent with how you chose to handle this. Don't let anyone else undermine you such as husband, older children, grandparents, etc. Also, physical therapy might help.

A friend of mine has a son, age 4, who had a cast on his leg and when he got his off the same thing happened. He scooted around on his butt for another week and a half until he became confident walking again. I hope she is feeling back to normal soon!

wouldn't she have a Dr's order for PT? it may be painful at first & feel weak & awkward, but PT will get her through it. i've gone through PT for broken bones & two other different reasons as well & they were always fantastic & always rehabilitated me completely. they are so incredibly knowledgeable. they will test/measure her ROM among other things. you'd be surprised how much your body can be miss aligned & the very minor exercises that are done to correct it. being in a leg cast can throw off many other parts of the body including her hips, back. maybe you could request a therapist that works best with kids or they may have some designated. good luck!

Same thing happened to my daughter at age 3 - doctor even told us this would happen. They just don't feel safe and will walk on it in their own time. Surprisingly enough, it was my 5-year-old niece who "coaxed" my daughter into walking normally. This was after a couple weeks. Hang in their, she'll walk as soon as she's feeling "safe" again.

Good Morning S.: As a mom of sons who spent alot of time in the ER for breaking something becaue of being daredevils (now they are parents and I can't wait to hear they are going through it themselves) smile-- sorry to digress. I am glad that she has healed.
Your little one is being a hormal child with this reaction. She hurt herself and went through the truma of pain, knowing to step without the cast caused pain,- then got the cast and even when uncomfortable it was protection and all the attention that came with it. Now you have taken the protection off and she has to trust that if she steps on it it won't start to hurt or break again.
Trust me your little one will be up and running as soon as she discovers that all is really well.
I have to say that as an adult when I broke my foot last year I lasted all of 4 days in the cast and gave the doctor the choice of cutting it off or me doing it. I hated not having the control over my body & the itching and went with a soft cast& took longer to heal. So I think your little girl is very brave and couragous. Enjoy the adventures of parenthood. It is the greatest thing I have done. Nana G

It's normal. My son has had several broken legs (genetic bone condition) and it always takes him some time to get going again.

My favorite trick was to put in the stroller and take him to a toy store. If he wasn't ready, he would just sit there. But more often than not, those toys would call to him and he would walk to reach them!

Dear S.,
I really feel for your little one.
I'm just now getting around really well after breaking my leg. I can tell you the fear of re-injuring it is very, very real. I had to do quite a bit of physical therapy to build the strength back up because my muscles were so weak. They gave me exercises to do at home that I can share with you if you'd like. Getting her in a pool would be really great for her.
She's only been out of the cast for 3 days so just holding onto her and helping her walk around the house a little at a time will help get her muscles and her confidence built back up. She'll be okay. She just needs to get it figured out that putting weight on her leg won't break it again.
Little kids heal a lot faster than adults and I'm sure she'll be up and running in no time. Do try to be patient with her though because I have no doubt she is really afraid to go through hurting her leg again. It's no fun. I'm STILL very cautious.
I wish her the very best!

Ask the dr. to recommend physical therapy. They will get her on it and walking. They'll give her exercises to do at home.


Hi S.-
I don't have personal experience on this, but I had a thought about it. To me, it seems like she is afraid that now the cast is off, her leg is still broken and she can't walk on it. The deal is to convince her that it is no longer broken and good as new. She may even think that it will break again and doesn't want to chance it. Kids are very perceptive, but their reasoning and logic needs a bit of training. If your doctor has copies of her x rays before and after, maybe get those out and show them to her. Tell her it is ok to be careful, but that her body was made to heal and is "new" again. Just like before she broke it. You could even explain it to her with playdough or something similar.
I hope this helps.

Talk to your daughter's doctor about physical therapy. Her muscles have probably atrophied just a tiny bit and she is probably feeling a litle weak on that leg. Physical Therapy can get the muscles back in shape so that she doesn't feel unbalanced.

When I got my cast off, I could not put weight on my leg at all for another two weeks. The muscles were too weak and if I did put weight there, my ankle would collapse from under me, causing me to fall. The doctor failed to mention this would happen when he put the cast on. Anyway, the physical therapy sounded like a good idea. I had to swim for 30 mins twice a day to build the strength back up again. Sometimes I would just kick my legs in the water for 30 mins instead.
W. M.

My daughter had the same problem, lots and lots of massages throughout the leg, especially the joint areas. Use hard liquor to warm up and circulate those tight muscles while you are massaging. Also stick Salonpas around the knee are ankle areas to help with the muscles. Took her two weeks to bend her knees. I also had her try to push my hands to increase its strength.

My 2 year old boy just fractured his tibia and only needs a full leg cast for 4 weeks . My feeling is that they will walk when inspired to do so. He didn't want to try walking on it the first 2 days but hen he got bored and figured it out. He tested his limits and decided he wanted to walk. I am assuming it will take some time when it comes off too. I think when they get bored enough they will do it!

If they feel they are missing out on something they will walk!

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