A plaster cast is used in managing fractures. The main purpose of the plaster cast is to immobilize the damaged body part in order to allow the two parts of the bone to heal in the right position.
What is a plaster cast?
A plaster cast is comprised of a cotton bandage that is wrapped using plaster of Paris. The bandages are applied when wet and eventually harden as they dry up. In some cases, bandages in different colors are offered, especially to children.
Application of a cast
Initially, the stockinette is applied to the skin in order to protect it from the casting materials that will be used. A layer of cast padding is rolled over for additional protection to the skin.
The plaster bandage is rolled on while they are still wet. The cast will start to harden within 10-15 minutes but it might take a longer time to completely dry up. Just remember that the individual should be careful with the cast for the initial 24-48 hours until it is fully dry and hard.
How to care for a plaster cast
There are considerations to bear in mind in order to protect the plaster cast and ensure that it lasts as long as it is needed.
Always remember to keep the plaster cast completely dry. You can purchase cast covers that can be used while bathing. Essentially, it is advised to take a bath rather than shower and suspend the casted limb over the edge.
The individual should not attempt to lean or add weight over the plaster cast since this might cause it to break. Do not place anything inside the cast since this can damage the interior of the cast or the skin that can lead to infection.
How long a plaster casts stay
Generally, plaster casts are applied between 6-8 weeks, but it can be more or less depending on the severity and location of the fracture.
Removal of the plaster cast
The plaster cast is removed using a cast saw and another specialized tool. Take note that the cast saw is specifically designed to cut the cast, but not the skin beneath it. Once the cast has been sliced, typically along both sides, the tool is utilized to spread and steadily removed the cast. The stockinette as well as the padding of the cast is then sliced off.
After the cast removal
Once the cast is removed, the body part that was casted appears different than the other side. It can appear smaller in size and paler in color while the hair growth is also different. Remember that all of these are normal and caused by muscle wasting and lack of sunlight to the skin. The hair growth and color will eventually return to normal after some time.
Muscle wasting typically occurs since the body part has been immobilized, thus the muscles were not able to work. In most cases, a rehabilitation program must be prescribed for the individual to help regain the muscle size and strength.