The Impact of Cast Immobilization on Return to Daycare

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Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics


Background: Children who are prohibited from returning to daycare (RTD) after treatment with cast immobilization place an increased burden on parents and caregivers. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of cast immobilization on RTD. Specifically, we sought to determine the prevalence of RTD after orthopaedic immobilization based on daycare facility policy. Methods: This was a survey study of randomly selected daycare facilities servicing a total of 6662 children within 10 miles of a major metropolitan city center. The 40-question survey included information on daycare policies and experience caring for children treated with orthopaedic immobilization. The survey also included questions about daycare type, enrollment, and geographic location. Photographs of the types of immobilization were embedded in the survey to facilitate understanding. Daycare facilities were randomly selected based on a power analysis to estimate a 50% prevalence of RTD after spica casting within 10% margin of error. Results: Seventy-Three daycare facilities completed the survey study. The average child-staff ratio was 5:1 and most daycare facilities (78%) did not have a nurse on staff. Predetermined policies regarding RTD after injury were available at 81% of daycares. Twenty-eight (38.5%) facilities had encountered a child with a cast in the previous year. The rate of RTD for children with upper limb injuries was 90.5% compared with 79% for lower limb injuries (P=0.003). Spica casts showed the lowest RTD rate: single leg (22.5%), 1 and a half leg (18%), and 2 leg (16%) (P5 y) had a higher RTD rate compared with less experienced facilities (P=0.026). Conclusions: The ability to RTD is dependent on immobilization type. Children with long leg and spica casts are disproportionately restricted when compared with other cast types. At minimum, surgeons should consider the socioeconomic implications of orthopaedic immobilization. There is also a need for orthopaedic involvement in policy formation at the local level to provide standardized guidelines for re-entry into childcare facilities following orthopaedic immobilization. Level of Evidence: Level IV.

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Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins