Serial Casting & Cerebral Palsy
Children and adults with cerebral palsy often have problems with movement and gait. Serial casting is a procedure which can go a long way in helping these individuals live a more normal life.
Serial casting refers to the application of a cast on a joint such as the leg or wrist in order to immobilize the area and stretch out the tendons affected for a period of 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, the cast gets changed every 5 to 10 days depending on the progress that’s being made.
Given the fact that cerebral palsy usually affects muscle control, people born with this disorder often suffer from stiff muscles which limits their ability to use certain parts of the body.
If left untreated, these limbs may not get the needed blood flow and nutrients which may lead to atrophy and loss of sensation in some cases. Serial casting seeks to prevent this by stretching out muscle groups and tendons.
Before a doctor recommends serial casting, they may ask to have an assessment performed to gauge the limb’s range of movement and usability. After this, they’ll apply a fiberglass cast on the affected limb with padding around it. This usually takes a few hours and isn’t painful given the fact that it’s non-invasive.
The goal of serial casting is to increase range of motion and movement. That being said, it’s important that you encourage your child to use the cast hand or limb for the duration of the time that it’s on so that the affected muscles relax and stretch out with time.
Additionally, please stress to your child the importance of having the cast dry at all times to prevent skin irritation. The doctor will determine if the procedure is a success after 4 to 6 weeks. While most children improve after serial casting, there are those who may need surgery and orthotics to add on to the procedure’s efficacy.
Serial casting can go a long way in improving muscle length, skin integrity, joint alignment and decreasing pain. Please speak with your doctor today to find out what your options are with regards to this procedure.