Full Body Cast

Updated on July 05, 2012
C.T. asks from Scottsdale, AZ
15 answers

My daughter broke her femur 4 days ago. She is in a spica cast...from her ribcage all the way down to her left ankle, halfway down her right leg and a bar connecting the two legs with an opening in the diaper area.
I am concerned about keeping the cast clean and dry esp. in the diaper area and I've come up with a way to wash her hair, but am open to any suggestions.
Has anyone else had a child in one of these? She is 3 1/2 and has to be in it for 6 weeks. Since it goes all the way up to her ribs, she can't even sit up, so creative new activity suggestions are welcome.

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answers from Phoenix on


That is awful! I have never experienced the cast sort of thing, but I have a million ideas of ways to entertain her!

I have been a nanny forever, and I am really good at coming up with diversions:

Let's see, at 3 1/2 you could do things like blind fold her and have her guess what things are by smell. Things like chocolate, cinnamon, oranges, etc with strong odors.

You could read to her, or better yet have her tell you a story and write it down for her. This is a great one because years from now she can look back at it.

I know that a cast up to the rib cage prevents her from sitting, but you can get a triangular cushion from Bed Bath and Beyond for $15 that can help her use her arms while resting on her tummy. Then she can color, finger paint, play with dolls.

Again an idea that might cost a few dollars, but you could get one of the lights that sends colors up all over the ceiling, or starts. If you get the kind with the replaceable plastic inserts then you could also get plain plastic and have her color it. Then when it is on her ceiling she can see her own coloring rotate around the room.

Do you take her outside at all?

With a picnic blanket you could lay down with her and look at the clouds passing or play I-spy.

There are toys like the projector toys that you pull an arm down and it switches to the next slide (I can't for the life of me remember what they are called) or kaleidoscopes.

Let me know which of these inspire you the most and I will respond with more.

F. G

I wrote the above earlier, but I just thought of another idea! Her sister could also do puppet shows for her. This would probably be a great way for her sister to feel like she is able to help. They can make up the characters together and the Au Pair can help to make the puppets.


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answers from Tucson on

I broke my leg at six and was in a body cast. It was the first time my family got a TV as I was in traction in the hospital for six weeks before the body cast. One family friend brought a bag with a small present for each day of one week and that's what I remember most. Having people visit was a big treat.
Best of luck and feel free to e-mail me to talk more.



answers from Las Cruces on

Hi my name is J.. My oldest was in the same cast when he was 6. The best way is to stuff a towel in the cast when you are going to wash them. Stuff it where the water is going to run to the towel instead of the cast. It is a very difficult cast to deal with. Our biggest problem was the cast chafing the skin. We bought rolls of heavy cotton. Then restuffed where needed. We used a potable urinal for the wetting. You can usually buy them at a pharmacy. Make sure you buy the female. An aunt of mine took a towel wrap for men and sewed it up with velcro to create a pair of shorts to cover the exposed areas. It was greatly appreciated. The crayon table was a godsend. Lots of books and coloring pictures.



answers from Phoenix on

My friends son was in the exact same cast last year right after he turned 4. I bought those washcloths with the shampoo already in them when he would spend the night at my house. I would lay him down in the tub and use the washcloths on him, and to rinse just take a damp regular washcloth and wipe the child down. You don't need to use as much water to bathe her with them. I told his mom how well they worked and that's what she did until the cast came off.

We used a boppy to sit up. It would give him the extra leverage for him to sit up. When we went to the zoo, we rented one of the double strollers and it worked great. And I agree with a previous post. Kids are resilient. Within a couple weeks, he had learned to get around the house with the cast.

I will let you know to be prepared, no matter how well you try to keep the cast clean, after a few weeks, it will start to smell.

My friends son had to keep it on for 10 weeks, and that was probably the worst part of it.



answers from Greensboro on

Well im 16 and i broke every single bone in my body.I broke my skull and all my toes and everthing in between so no one gives to shits that she cant move



answers from Phoenix on

My husband broke his femur bone when he was a kid... His parents got him a guitar, even when the cast was off and he couldn't play as much like his friends. He was a little older than your daughter is now. My husband is now a fantastic musician! Music is a great escape for some kids.



answers from Tucson on

My friend's son had a similar injury at the same age. after a few weeks he was commando-crawling down the hallway to get where he wanted to go. Kids adapt faster than we do!

If you still have a big stroller (not an umbrella stroller), you can prop her up in it and go for walks. At least you will get out and get some fresh air that way.



answers from Phoenix on


I have a girlfriend whose daughter (age 5) had to have her spine straightened and had to be in a body cast as well. Is your daughter potty trained? If not, be sure that she is propped up so that she doesn't have any leakage from her diaper down her back...once that cotton is soaked, you cannot get it out. Her daughter had trouble with this as well as keeping enough padding where it rubbed on the edges by her back which caused a sore. I don't tell you these things to scare you, just things to keep in mind. Take care and good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

Hi C.. Wow, a 3 1/2 yr old in a full body cast, must be trying for her and you! Well, my identical twin sis was in the same situation when we were eleven. Cornstarch works well for the diaper area to keep it dry. Slightly damp cloths for a bath. Walgreens should carry the blue lined square pads you can place under her behind and change frequently. A little bit of lotion on the elbows, kneels & heels can be helpful. Are you able to prop her up on her side at all? I have had 6 weeks of bedpan duty etc with her so if you need help, please reply, I am available.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi C.. My son broke his femur at age 7 and was in the exact same type of cast. For baths my husband and I would prop him up by the kitchen sink so I could fully wash the poor guy. My husband would hold and turn him and it worked pretty well. For using the bathroom I would have to prop him up and hold him on the toilet, or if he only had to pee he could pee in the plastic container (something that i guess only helps if you are a boy). I would ask the dr.'s office for any suggestions for helping a girl use the toilet.

I am so sorry that your daughter is in this cast. If I can help you out in any other way just let me know. Just keep in mind that as difficult as it is, it will heal and she will be out of the cast soon. I would suggest that you keep some benadryl around. A few weeks into it my son was in tears because it itched so badly in the cast where we coldn't reach it at all to scratch. The benadryl slightly helped.

Good luck.


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi C.,
In the rehab hosp, we'd used "chucks" (flat, thin, disposable sheets with plastic on one side: kind of like disposable changing-table cloths), cut them into smaller sheets, and tuck them around the cast edges near the crotch and backside. These also kept the cast from rubbing people's skin raw.

They still have to be changed often, and you can't keep the cast totally clean, but this helped a lot. (I've found them @ Target, but I'll bet you can get them almost anywhere).

Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

Hi C.,

I fostered a 5 week old baby girl that was in a body cast like yours so as far as entertaining, there wasn't much as she was so little. Since she was little and growing so fast, she grew into the cast quickly causing her to throw up her food if her belly got too full. So I suggest small meals for your daughter so she doesn't get too full as there's nowhere for her belly to expand. As far as the diaper situation goes, the nurses told me to use a super (long) absorbing maxi pad and those worked great. As far as bath time, I mostly cleaned her bottom area with a wash cloth after I washed her hair. The only time I flushed out her cast was if any urine or poopy got on her cast... so about 3 times I had to flush out her cast and then I dried it with a blow dryer on warm air of course so it wouldn't burn her. She actually seemed to enjoy the warm air. You have to make sure that if urine gets in her cast that you flush it out thoroughly cause the urine will cause her skin to blister. I must have done a pretty good job because the nurses and doctor that removed the cast were very impressed with how clean her cast was!

I really, really feel for you! It was very hard on me because I had a 1yr old son at the time. I know it's tough but it'll be over before you know it and since she's still little, she may not even remember the discomfort and frustrations that she may be feeling. Stay strong and good luck!!



answers from Phoenix on

My son broke his femur when he was 2 and was in the exact same cast. This is what we learned:

1. He was in diapers and did get wet, but we used a hairdryer with a cool setting to dry it frequently.
2. We went on lots of walks with a wagon, watched videos, video games, drawing.
3. We used a mechanics dolly (the kind they use to wheel themselves under cars) with a pillow strapped to it (he liked being on his belly the best) and a rope on the handle to pull him around the house.
4. He sat on a huge bean bag to watch tv so he could be upright.
5. He would get on top of his bigger trucks and wheel himself around with his arms and leg/toes. You could try a skateboard for that.
6. We found a special seatbelt for spica casts that strapped him in while laying down in the car for Drs. appt. (I didn't trust it for anything else).

I wish you the best. I know you will see how resilient and adaptable your daughter is. My son was pulling himself up the stairs and almost able to climb on to the couch. He could also flip from front to back in bed when he was sleeping. It was amazing!

Good luck!




answers from Phoenix on

Oh wow, poor baby! I can't imgaine being in something like that, let alone putting a 3 1/2 year old in one!

Do you have a vsmile or some other type of electronic game that is educational? My daughter, 2.5, loves those things, and if she can lay on her side, that might be something she can do.

Markers so she can draw on her cast

Leap frog electronic books

That's the best I can do right now, and I don't een know if those will work. If I think of something else, I'll let you know.

And sorry, I have no tricks for the diaper



answers from Yuma on

To wash her hair if you can put her on the kitchen table take a rolled towel under her neck put a trash bag tucked around below it and use a pitcher to pour water over her head, it helps to have a cple so you don't have to leave her side, put the end of the trash bag into a trash can and use a little soap, they don't get dirty when in the spica so you may only need to do it a cple of times.
To entertain maybe a slanted board on top of a cple pillows so she can watch tv. Hope it helps ML

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