Fractures and broken bones are often an unfortunate part of childhood. In fact, they are the fourth most common injury in kids under six. Most often, breaks in the wrist or arm are caused by a tripping while running or playing sports. Or, they’re caused by falling out of a tree or off playground equipment.
So how do you know if your child has broken a bone? In some instances, the arm can look really crooked, or you may even see bone poking through the skin. In these situations, it is best to call an ambulance or head straight to the emergency department of your nearest hospital. But more commonly, there is no obvious injury apart from pain and some localised swelling. In younger children who may not be able to talk yet, they may cry. You will likely notice a hesitation to use the limb in question.
If you think your child may have a broken bone, the best steps are:
- give them some pain relief (e.g. paracetamol)
- Rest the injured area and stop the movement if possible. Apply a sling or splint (you can use a newspaper, magazine, rolled up towel)
- pop on a wrapped ice pack or a pack of frozen peas
- elevate the limb to help with swelling
To diagnose an injury, the therapists at Helping Hands will take a history of the injury. We will also check your child’s movement and pain points, and if a fracture is suspected then arrange an x-ray. The x-ray is an important step as we are able to review the type, severity and location of the fracture. This helps to ensure optimal treatment options are considered.
Most child fractures are able to be treated with a cast or a custom moulded thermoplastic orthosis – and our therapists are able to explain which may be the best option for each child. Factors that we take into consideration include the age and activity levels of the child, the severity and location of the fracture, and any sporting or holiday considerations that may come into play. For more complex fractures we may consult with an orthopaedic surgeon and arrange follow up x-rays to ensure the best outcome.
For the vast majority of fractures Helping Hands can manage all the ongoing follow up in-house. We will ensure the correct length of time in the splint/cast and ensure parents have a very clear understanding of time frames for healing, activities that should be avoided, return to sport and PE advice and how to manage pain. The good news is that after adequate time in the splint or cast children generally regain normal use of their limbs by re-engaging in gentle activities and play.
For those times however when movement or strength is an issue our therapists will be able to focus the attention on exercises and treatment to get your child back to doing the things they love within the shortest time frame possible.
You can visit the Helping Hands Clinic website HERE.