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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Hip Dysplasia: Caring for Your Child in a Body (Spica) Cast
Spica casts, also called
body casts, are frequently used to treat children who have hip, pelvis, or leg
problems, such as
developmental dysplasia of the hips (DDH). You may be
nervous about having a child in a spica cast. It can be overwhelming to be responsible for the care and cleaning of the cast. But
caring for a spica cast is not as hard as it may at first seem. After you get
into a routine, you'll find that you can handle the daily tasks involved in
cast care. You will become more and more confident that you can keep your child
safe and comfortable while he or she is in the cast.
You can help
care for your child's spica cast by:
spica cast is a hard covering made of plaster or fiberglass that may be used
as part of treatment for children who have hip or leg problems, such as
developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). In DDH, the
top of the thighbone (femur) does not fit securely into the hip socket
(acetabulum), letting the thighbone either partially or completely slip out of
the socket (dislocate).
After the doctor moves the
thighbone into its normal position, the cast is used to keep the
joint in place as it grows. Spica casts are usually
worn continuously for 2 to 3 months.
A spica cast is used to stabilize a child's hips,
pelvis, or legs.
A spica cast is used to help abnormally
developed bones or tendons of the legs, hips, or pelvis to stay in place as a
child grows. For example, it is a common treatment for developmental dysplasia
of the hips (DDH). This is a condition in which the top of the thighbone
(femur) does not fit securely into the hip socket (acetabulum), allowing the
thighbone to either partially or completely slip out of the socket
Continue to Why?
spica cast is usually worn continuously for 2 to 3 months. This is a long time
for anyone to be in a cast, especially a young child. You want to keep the cast
in good condition so that your child will be as comfortable as possible. Also,
proper care of the cast will help the cast stay strong and be most effective in
treating your child's condition.
Caring for your child's spica cast is important
because it must be worn a long time. Taking good care of the cast will help it
be most effective and will help keep your child as comfortable as
A child wears a spica cast for 2 to 3 months.
Properly caring for the cast helps your child stay comfortable and helps the
cast to be as effective as possible.
Continue to How?
caring for your child's cast includes allowing it to dry properly, keeping it
clean, preventing infections and other problems, and knowing when to call the
doctor. You should also be able to position your child properly in the cast.
If your child's cast is made of
plaster, it may need time to dry after it is first put on. Your child will
likely be in a semi-sitting position and may need you to help him or her move.
Turn your child at least every 2 hours for the first 24 to 48 hours to prevent
uneven drying of the cast. You can use a fan to help the cast dry more quickly,
but don't use heat. When you tap the cast and hear a hollow sound, it is
cast, and do your best to keep it dry. But realize that the cast may get dirty
or wet now and then.
Focus on taking preventive measures and
cleaning the cast when needed.
Keep your child
safe and comfortable by using basic care techniques.
Your child needs physical contact with you, especially
while he or she is in a cast. As long as you make sure to take basic safety
measures, you can and should continue to hold, interact with, and provide
stimulating activities for your child.
Encourage your child's
involvement with your family.
Keep a constant
watch on your child and the condition of the cast. Although you should call
your doctor any time you have questions, talk to him or her right away whenever
Also call your doctor any time the cast:
The spica cast can be washed regularly in a
A spica cast needs to be kept completely dry.
Although you can wipe off a fiberglass cast with a damp cloth, plaster casts
must be kept as dry as possible. Sometimes you must clean an area, such as if
your child has a mess from a bowel movement. If this occurs, clean it with the
least amount of water possible and dry it using a hair dryer on a low, cool
I need to let my child rest and should only interact
with him or her when absolutely necessary.
Along with rest, your child needs stimulation and interaction.
If you follow basic safety measures, you can and should touch your child and
include him or her in family activities. In most cases, you can move your child
frequently around your home. With proper equipment, it is also recommended that
you take your child for walks and car trips outside the home.
I should call my doctor whenever the cast becomes wet
As hard as you might try, it is impossible to
keep your child's cast completely clean and dry all the time. There will be a
few times over the course of 2 or 3 months when the cast will become dirty or
damp. Don't panic. Focus on cleaning the area as best you can and drying it
with a hair dryer on a low, cool setting.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to care for your child's spica cast.
If you have any further questions about spica cast care, contact your
Return to topic:
Development Dysplasia of the Hip
March 12, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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