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Plaster cast

Information leaflet on plaster cast  

In the Accident and Emergency Department (A & E) - which is known in The Netherlands as Spoedeisende Hulp (SEH) - you have been given a plaster cast. This prevents undesirable movement in the broken or crushed area of the body.
If you have a plaster cast on your leg, you must not walk on the plaster for a week.
You are allowed to walk with crutches, using the uninjured leg. Crutches can be rented from the SEH Department. A week after the plaster cast has been applied, you must return to the Outpatients' Clinic (Surgery or Orthopaedic). The plaster cast will then usually be replaced with a synthetic cast by the plaster technician in the Plaster Room. You will be given an appointment for this whilst you are in the SEH. The Plaster Room is in the Outpatients' Surgery Department (1st. Floor, South lift, route 23).

Important Warning!
It is essential for your recovery that the joints that are outside the plaster cast are kept mobile so that the muscles and the joints stay in good condition.

Plaster cast on your lower and/or upper leg
The leg within the plaster must be rested. You must hold your leg up high: i.e. the foot should be higher than the knee and the knee higher than the pelvis. In bed at night, put a pillow - or something similar-under the foot-end of your mattress so as toraise it. Do not put the pillow on top of the mattress as, during your sleep, your foot can slip off it.

Exercise
Try to move your toes and, if possible, your knee regularly.

Walking plaster
Most fractures must not be subjected to any pressure throughout the treatment. You may, however, be fitted with a walking plaster. This type of plaster has a high synthetic heel or sole which prevents damage to the plaster when you are walking. It is advisable to have a raised sole or heel fitted to your (other) shoe. If you only have an elbow crutch, this must be used on the undamaged side of your body.

Plaster cast on your upper and/or lower arm
If either your upper or lower arm is in a plaster cast, it is not advisable to do any hard work such as lifting heavy objects or using hand tools because the intense muscle movements involved can have a bad effect on the fracture.  
The sling must be worn in such a way that the hand is higher than the elbow. If the hand is lower. this will lead to unnecessary swelling.  
The plaster should not press into the bend of the elbow. If it does, you must get in touch with the SEH or the plaster technician.  

Exercise

  • Throughout the day, once an hour, do an exercise with your fingers; clench your fist until the    fingers are totally bent and then fully stretch them.
  • In order to prevent stiffening, take your arm out of the sling for a little while, at regular intervals,   so that the elbow and shoulder are kept mobile.

When you go to bed, you may remove the sling and lay the plastered arm on a pillow.

Plaster getting wet  
You must be careful not to let the plaster get wet. If this should happen by accident, try to dry the plaster with an electric hair-dryer (föhn). Blow the warm air (not too hot) between your skin and the plaster.  

Staff in the Plaster Room or the SEH will tell you how you can obtain plastic shower-covers.

You must telephone the hospital immediately if:

  • your fingers or toes start to tingle, become swollen or turn white or blue
  • if you can not - or scarcely - move your fingers or toes
  • the plaster is causing you pain or if it is pinching (you do not normally need to worry about pain at the seat of the fracture)
  • the plaster is broken (if this happens, you must not put any weight on it)
  • you can not manage to dry the plaster.  

Finally
The synthetic cast takes about 30 minutes to harden. If this cast has been applied to your upper or lower leg, you must not immediately walk or stand on this leg or you will overload the fresh plaster. You may not put any pressure on the leg until you are given permission to do so.  

During the time that your arm or leg is in plaster you may not drive a car, as you are not insured during this period.  

If you have any questions or problems, please do not hesitate to contact
the SEH (telephone number: 070 - 312 44 45) or
the plaster technician (telephone number: 070 - 312 40 50).