View Full Version : Is there a Doctor in the house? Broken Leg & Broken arm question

01-09-2011, 10:47 PM

13 year old kid
Broken right leg (femur)
Broken left arm (radius)

Has been in casts for 7 weeks.
Assumed the casts will be off in 8 weeks.

QUESTION: would a doctor allow the above patient to use a crutch or a cane to get around (by week 7 of 8)? Are there special crutches that you could use with a broken arm? Are there any circumstances (eg. hairline fractures rather than compound) where the doc might say the kid "CAN" walk on a casted leg during week 7 of 8? but still can't have cast off until week 8? Like if they use a cane or somemthing.

Thanks for your help!

01-10-2011, 08:59 PM
There are many different fractures. A lot depends upon the mechanism of injury and the precise location and type of fracture in the given bones as well as the degree of soft tissue injury. Knowing just the bones doesn't provide enough information, which means if you don't get too specific with the details, then yes, the kid might have been switched to a walking cast by week 7. Crutches come in at least standard and Canadian. It's been long enough since I was an ortho tech that there might be more by now. They might leave the cast on a couple weeks extra (typically a lighter weight one and with a heel specifically so that they can walk) just to keep the patient from jumping. Think of that as a transitional phase where if you were sure the patient would be compliant, they might be cast free, but in a non-compliant or likely to be non-compliant patient, then they might get extra cast time.

The femur makes it all a bit more difficult because the basic nature of casting is to immobilize a joint above and below the fracture, which in the case of the femur would include the hip. So if you want them to be in a long leg cast and not in traction, then it would likely be a hairline fracture nearer the knee. If it is through one of the various prominences near the knee on the femur as opposed to the shaft of the femur, then it would be much more believeable.

01-11-2011, 02:51 PM
GeorgeK. Thank you so much! That makes such a difference to my story and the "extra cast time" works perfectly for the story. I'll drop the break to below the knee. maybe I'll have him get his arm cast off first? Then an extra week or so with a leg cast.

Thanks again!

01-11-2011, 03:09 PM
There are many contraptions to make it possible to get around with immobilized body parts. A crutch can be fitted with a piece to allow a forearm to be strapped on it instead of using a straight arm down to the hand piece. Awkward yes, but if you want to get around you can.

01-12-2011, 02:07 AM
When walking with a cane, you use the hand opposite the injured leg. If the left leg is in a cast, you would ave the cane in your right hand. The reason for using the cane is to shift weight off the injured leg. A lot of that weight is going to end up being borne by your cane arm, so that arm needs to be functional. Yeah, you could use a cane in the wrong hand, but your gait and balance would be seriously wackered up and you would be more likely to fall.

Now, if you have a below the knee injury, you could use one of these:


I've seen these scooters in action--they are way cool.