Scott J. Tarantino, MD, FAAOS
A waterproof cast makes total sense when it’s 97 degrees outside, sunny, and you just want to wade in the pool and cool off. Or more importantly, you simply want to let your child just be a kid and jump in with his or her friends and not allow that broken arm or leg ruin their summer. The entire concept of waterproof technology for casting in the hotter months of the year is simply natural. But what about the winter?
Now it’s 27 degrees and the ground is covered with snow. Does a waterproof cast make any sense at all in the winter? There has been some hesitation in the past concerning the use of waterproof casts in the colder months due to fear of snow or ice getting into the cast or water actually freezing inside the cast and creating problems with the skin. The reality is that snow, ice, or water getting into the cast outdoors is not a problem for AquaCast Liner—this is one of the situations for which it is designed.
If you or your child are heading out in freezing temperatures, the cast will likely be covered with a coat and/or gloves, which will minimize any exposure to the snow, ice, or elements. There is no need to place any additional protective material over the cast; you don’t need to use any of those crazy plastic bags or cast covers. They just get in the way and will take away the use of your hand where your cast is located. Just put on your coat and gloves like you would normally. If any snow or ice happens to get into the cast adjacent to your skin, it will melt when exposed to your body heat and the water will then run out from under the cast material, just like it does in the summer. Yes, you might feel a little colder, just like you would if your gloves or clothing get wet in the snow, but it shouldn’t cause any damage to the cast or to your skin. If you get a piece of ice or a hard piece of snow under the cast and it is uncomfortable, simply go inside and run warm water into the cast to melt it more quickly – not a problem.
We have heard concerns about water getting under the cast in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, freezing into a piece of ice, and causing skin breakdown or irritation. Although anything is possible, the likelihood of this happening is small due to the constant body heat under the cast. Again, in the rare event that this should happen, simply running warm water under the cast will melt any ice quite quickly. To date, as far as AquaCast is aware, there have been no reported cases of this situation happening and their products are applied year-round in cold weather environments.
With a regular cast in place, you definitely need to be concerned about moisture, snow, ice, and water. The cotton under a regular cast cannot get wet because it is unable to dry quickly enough and will irritate the skin. If you do get it wet, it will require a cast change in the doctor’s office; this will cost you time (office visit), and in many cases, money (think co-pays). AquaCast Liner solves this problem quite easily and will save you that time and money.
Breaking a bone is never any fun, nor is being in a cast for several weeks. AquaCast Liner has historically made the summer months more enjoyable for patients by allowing them not only to shower and bathe normally, but to get in the pool to cool off on those hot, intolerable days. The winter isn’t any different. Patients will continue to bathe and shower in the colder months just like they do in the summer. Why not use AquaCast Liner in the winter to allow patients to enjoy the snow and cold weather safely without the concern of getting the cast wet and needing an unnecessary cast change?
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