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Frequently asked questions about caring for
a child in a Halo cast or a body cast

Introduction
Disclaimer

  1. What is a Halo Cast? A body cast? Why are these casts needed?
  2. How long will the cast be on?
  3. When should I contact my child's health care provider about possible problems with the cast?
  4. What is the best way to set up the bed?
  5. How do you get a bath when you are in a cast?
  6. What kinds of clothes will fit over the cast?
  7. How do I move my child when she is in a cast? How often does a person in a body cast have to change position?
  8. How can I keep my child busy?
  9. What do children say about being in a body cast?
  10. What happens when the cast comes off?
  11. What else can you tell me about this?
  12. Where can I find more information?

    Are you doing research for the first time? Please read our introduction to doing internet research.

Acknowledgements


Navigation links to other sections of this web site.


Introduction

This document gives information about practical care, medical care, and emotional needs for the whole family for times when a child will be in a halo cast. Your medical providers will also have information about how to care for a child in a Halo or body cast.

This page was compiled from suggestions from the SED/SMD/Kniest list serve. The information comes from parents asking about how to care for their child who was in a Halo cast, parents who had 'been there' giving information they wish they had know ahead of time, and people who had had a Halo or body cast. We all hope this will be helpful for you.

Please contact us if you have any questions or we've missed something important!

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Disclaimer

This web page is a meant as a guide and should not take the place of instructions from your child's medical provider. Please check with your a medical provider for all care aspects of a child in a halo or body cast

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1) What is a Halo Cast? A body cast?
Why are these casts needed?

Recovery from certain kinds of back surgery sometimes required a Halo cast. When recovering from certain surgeries, the neck has to be completely still. Moving the neck can do serious damage and slow recovery. The vertebrae (bones in the back) heal better when there is less movement. More information on spine problems common to people with SED, SMD, and Kniest

A halo cast has two parts: a vest, and a brace to keep the head from moving. There is a piece of lambs-wool fabric that goes under the vest. The brace part needs to be tightened (this is done by parents) during recovery. Your doctor will tell you when and how much the brace needs to be tightened.

There are many different types of body casts, but they generally cover your trunk.

Halo and body casts are used to keep the back and/or neck from moving so they can heal after surgery.

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2) How long will the cast be on?

It varies depending on the kind of surgery and how fast recovery is. Ask your doctor how long the cast will be on.

After the cast itself comes off, your child's back and neck may be 'floppy' from lack of use when the cast was on. Make sure to ask specific questions about how long your child may need extra care. See question 10 for information about what happens after the cast comes off.

Note: you may get different opinions from different medical providers. The surgeon is responsible for the operation and overseeing the recovery. Your surgeon should be willing to answer all your questions.

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3) When should I contact my medical provider about possible problems with the cast?

Call your child's doctor immediately if you notice:
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4) How do I set up the bed?

Your child will be spending a lot of time in bed. The more prepared you are, the smoother things will go.

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5) How do you get a bath when you are in a cast?


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6) What kinds of clothes will fit over the cast?


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7) How do I move my child when she is in a cast?



How often does a person in a body cast have to change position?

When your child is awake, he or she needs to be moved every two to four hours. Ask your doctor exactly how often your child will have to change position. The pressure of being in one position for so long, the weight of the cast, and lack of circulation can cause bedsores and skin irritation. Bedsores can get infected and this infection can be very serious.

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8) How can I keep my child busy?


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9) What do children say about being in a body cast?


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10) What happens when the cast comes off?


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11) Tips from parents and kids who have been there.

Here is what some parents and kids have written. Please contact us if you would like to add a quote.


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12) Where can I find more information?



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Acknowledgements:
Thanks to all in the SED/SMD/Kniest group.

Special thanks to Laura for her editing assistance, and to Laura and Rachel for their help on this document, and their splendid example of mother/daughter teamwork.



End section on caring for a child in a Halo or Body Cast
for the Kniest Syndrome,
Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, and Spondylometaphseal Dysplasia Page
and the Kniest SED Group.

 

 


 

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