Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Help a Baby after Clubfoot Casting

I’m not sure there are any tips to help when bringing a child home with clubbed feet after a visiting the doctor for a new set of casts. It’s rough on the kid. And it’s rough on the parents. (Truth be told, probably rougher on the parents!). But there are three tips that we all-too-slowly discovered.

1. Give a dose of Tylenol before the casting appointment. Obviously get your pediatrician’s approval first. You’ll need it for dosing requirements anyway. We found that once we could give Eli Tylenol, it made a huge difference in his behavior during the casting session. He was a lot less likely to scream in holy-terror. He was also a lot less likely to cry uncontrollably at the doctor’s office. This let us actually talk to the doctor and encouraged them to stick around the room longer to answer our questions. (Although they might not actually admit it, no one wants to be in a room with a screaming baby!) It also helped with the next tip we discovered…

 2. Casting gives your baby gas. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s all the gulping of air from crying. Maybe there’s special gas intake valves on infants feet that we don’t know about. But whatever the reason, Eli had terrible, terrible gas pains after the castings. It took us three weeks of trying to figure out what was wrong with his casts to discover it wasn’t his casts but his stomach! We gave Eli gas drops (which you can buy just about anywhere). However we’ve been told they are simply a placebo effect for parents. And while that may be so, it made us feel better and seemed to make Eli feel better. But that’s the irony of a placebo effect - maybe it was all in our heads!

3. Your baby will still cry because he’s hungry, tired, or needs changed. Your baby still has other needs. It’s easy to fall for the temptation to only think of the casts as the problem. But they aren’t. In fact, they likely aren’t the problem. Don’t forget to feed your baby, change her, or burp her. It sounds like this should be obvious, but as a parent you become so sensitized to the casts, that you assume they are the reason for everything. (This is when your brain is your enemy.)

There are probably other tips that can help within the first 24-hours of bringing a baby home from your casting appointments, but these three helped us maintain our sanity. Or at least pretend to maintain our sanity! How about you? What tips have you found useful?

4 comments:

  1. Our baby's feet were pretty cold after the casts were put on. Every week after our appt., we would blow dry the casts on the blow dryer low setting until they were dry enough for baby to be comfortable. The sound of the hair dryer was also soothing for our baby.

    I love the tips you've given here! I have to 2nd the Tylenol recommendation. We did it for casting, the tenotomy and most importantly from the transition from the last cast to the shoes. That was a tough, tough day ... and Tylenol helped us make it easier.

    ~ Catalina

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  2. That's actually a great idea about the warming up the casts.

    I think a lot of the issues we had with each casting wasn't discomfort with the cast as much as he was generally sore from being IN a cast. The Tylenol just took the edge off, which means he cried less, which in turn made him have less gas, and on and on.

    One thing we learned was that while you can't stop a baby from crying, if you let your baby start crying too soon, they spiral out of control pretty quickly.

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  3. What a sweet post!

    My name is Kylan Lundeen. I am a graduate student at Stanford University currently enrolled in a course called Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability (http://extreme.stanford.edu). With an interdisciplinary team from the design school, and the non-profit organization Miraclefeet, we are in the process of designing and developing a more affordable, comfortable, and aesthetically-pleasing brace for clubfoot treatment in the developing world.

    We will be traveling to Brazil in a couple of weeks to do research and share some very rough prototype concepts, but in the meantime, we anxious to understand the greatest needs of parents, children, and care providers regarding the treatment and bracing procedure. Because poor brace compliance is the #1 reason for failed clubfoot treatment, we would like to speak with parents of children born with clubfoot about the challenges of the treatment and bracing. Additionally, would would like to brainstorm ideas with the parents on how the brace could be improved/re-designed based on their user experience.

    Could we speak to you sometime about your experience with Eli's bracing? Are you aware of any community or support groups that also might be able to help us?

    Thank you for your help and consideration...and thank you for sharing your story via this blog!

    Sincerely,
    Kylan Lundeen

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  4. Hi Kylan,

    Thanks for stopping by. Speaking from experience, I can see why compliance is the #1 issue. It's something that seems easy to do, until you actually try. We had about a 3 week period of little to no sleep, where Eli resisted his braces so much he stopped eating. As a parent, that's a hard place to be. And it's much easier, living through that, to understand why compliance is an issue.

    If you'd like to talk with us, feel free to e-mail me, and we can work out details: eric.m.barrett (at) gmail.com

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