6 Tips for Arm Casts on Kids

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Great tips for making your child feel more comfortable with an arm cast after a broken arm.

A young girl has an arm cast.
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Our Story

Today marks the end of a 2.5 month adventure with the Peanut.

Now that it is over, I look back and realize I haven't said a whole lot about her broken elbow.

It was definitely something that put us in survival mode and there has been one countdown after another as we looked forward to the end of the healing process.

For posterity and for the Peanut, I wanted to share her brave timeline and happy ending.

For you, I'll share what we learned along the way in case God forbid you follow in our shoes.

The Peanut broke her elbow 2 days before her 6th birthday while on the playground at school.

She fell off the highest of the straight bars and is the second or third child to break an arm doing this same thing at her school this year alone.

We tried a "cast it, wait and see for a week" approach to cross our fingers and pray for a successful healing.

Sadly, that was not meant to be and after the first week she had to undergo surgery to repair the break.

It was in a fussy spot and just didn't want to heal on it's own. The doctor had to go in and insert some pins to hold things into place.

We are so blessed to have a wonderful children's hospital so it went as well as could be expected but no mommy wants to see her baby wake up groaning in pain, unable to speak.

Children are so resilient and bounce back so quickly.

But even by the end of her outpatient surgery day, she was doing so much better:

Having this cast for 6 weeks barely slowed the Peanut down.

I was amazed to see her make adjustments to accommodate the arm.

She rarely complained of it itching or hurting and was a great sport about keeping it clean and dry.

Little Pea worried for her sister and would gently pat the cast and even sometimes give it kisses--just before getting back to the business of being a rambunctious pair of kiddos.

We may have indulged in a few more treats and pampering during those first 4 weeks. It's pretty hard not to. . . 

But at the end, she was so ready to get it removed.

We had to have that second cast removed (along with the pins) and a third and final cast put in place for 2 more weeks to ensure proper healing.

Those were perhaps the longest and most annoying days of the process but we had our Disney World trip scheduled for 3 days after the cast came off so we had something to look forward to.

Kudos goes to Disney for being SO wonderful and SO accommodating about our need to reschedule the trip twice upon doctor's orders.

On the way to the doctor's office to get the cast off for good!

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Our happiest of endings:

The doctor insisted that our trip to Disney was perfectly timed.

We had a prescription to get our little lady into the pool and do as much swimming as possible for physical therapy of her arm.

After 7 weeks total of 3 different casts, 1 surgery, 1 painful pin removal, the shock of not being able to bend her arm initially, and a vacation postponed 2 times, the Peanut was So. Excited. To. Swim. & Play. & Have FUN. 

She jumped right in, swam and splashed, and ran and played as though none of this had ever happened.

And because of all that excitement and joy?

We were told by the doctor this morning that she made AMAZING progress on her range of motion.

She said normally children take up to 16 weeks to recover the range that the Peanut recovered in 4.

She credits the excitement of Disney and plenty of pool time for helping the Peanut to ignore the pain and stiffness and just get back to the business of being a kid.

Because of the surgery and pins, she'll have a small scar and a small bump on her elbow for the rest of her life.

She also can't do that freaky girl trick of the double jointed elbows in her right arm.

As her mommy, I feel sad that she has lost a tiny portion of the perfection she was born with but this is a battle scar and story she'll have to entertain people with for the rest of her life.

I'm so proud of how she faced this challenge and I'm so pleased  how well our outcome turned out. I'm also enormously grateful it's over.

The BEST Tips for Coping with a Cast

There are a few simple things you can do to make your child feel more comfortable while they have a cast and when the cast first comes off.

1. Use Glad Press & Seal to wrap the top and bottom of the cast

Then, wrap the arm in a plastic garbage bag with masking tape before every bath.

I also wrapped it during her birthday party to avoid splashes from the water games.

Worked like a charm and we were complimented at how clean her cast was by the doctor.

2. Use rubbing alcohol & cotton balls

You'll need these to remove the orange residue after surgery.

Wipe gently and avoid any open wounds or areas.

3. Send These Pencils to School

The Peanut broke her writing arm but with this pencil she didn't miss a beat with her school work. They are awesome!

4. Send Chalk and Bubbles

Doctor's orders forbade playing on the jungle gym at school but the Peanut's teacher kindly got permission from the principal to allow sidewalk chalk and bubbles to be used so the children would be encouraged to play with her.

5. Stock Up on Aquafor

Be prepared for very dry & flaky skin when the cast comes off. A few nights of Aquafor and she was good as new!

6. Plan an Active Trip

Plan a trip to Disney!

I jest, but I am so glad the timing worked out for us to be able to do this.

If Disney isn't an option for you, I would honestly recommend a trip to a local water park or pool.

Go ahead and host a "My cast is off!" party!

Have you ever had to manage a broken limb in your family? Do you have any tips to share? Leave me a comment, who knows who it will help!

13 Comments

  1. My almost six year old fell and broke her elbow yesterday ? I was wondering if you have any tips on clothing. It is pretty cold most days and I'm struggling to come up with ideas for keeping her warm, as long sleeves and a coat are not options anymore. I know your sweet little one is long since past this ordeal, but I was wondering if you have any ideas.

    1. Oh Nicole! I'm so sorry to hear this. It's such a scary thing, but the good news is, she healed 110%! Years later, you'd never knew this happened to us. We live in the south, so when it happened in March, cold weather wasn't such an issue for us. But, what I did do was head to our local outlet store and buy shirts in the next size or two up (short sleeved) so that they were nice and stretchy to get over her cast. it worked like a charm. We just slipped that arm through first and then pulled the rest over her head and other arm.

      For keeping warm, could you do a poncho? I made my girls matching fleece ones when they were toddlers with the easiest pattern from Joann's. It was almost no-sew and they were super cute. Otherwise, I'd try a larger sized stretchy sweatshirt. Good luck to you!! And sending healing vibes!

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