Discharge Instructions: Caring for Your Child’s Splint

Your child will be coming home with a splint. This is sometimes called a removable cast. A splint helps your child’s body heal by holding the injured bones or joints in place. A damaged splint can prevent the injury from healing well. Take good care of your child’s splint. If the splint becomes damaged or loses its shape, it may need to be replaced. Here's what you need to know about home care.

Your child has a broken ___________________ bone. This bone is located in the __________________.

Splint care

  • Make sure your child wears his or her splint according to the healthcare provider's instructions.

  • Keep the splint dry at all times. Bathe with your splint well out of the water. You can hold the splint outside the tub or shower when bathing. Protect it with a large plastic bag closed at the top end with a rubber band or tape. Use 2 layers of plastic to help keep the splint dry. Or you can buy a waterproof shield.

  • If a splint gets wet, dry it with a hair dryer on the “cool” setting. Don’t use the warm or hot setting, because those settings can burn your skin.

  • Always keep the splint clean and away from dirt.

  • Wash the Velcro straps and inner cloth sleeve (stockinette) with soapy water and air-dry.

  • Keep the splint away from open flames.

  • Don’t expose the splint to heat, space heaters, or prolonged sunlight. Excessive heat will cause the splint to change shape.

  • Don’t cut or tear the splint. 

Exercise and elevation

  • Encourage your child to exercise all the nearby joints not kept still (immobilized) by the splint. If your child has a long leg splint, help him or her to exercise the hip joint and toes. If your child has an arm splint, encourage them to exercise his or her shoulder, elbow, thumb, and fingers.

  • Raise the part of the body that is in the splint above heart level. This helps reduce swelling.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your child's healthcare provider.

When to call your child's healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • Fever (see “Fever and children” below)

  • Tingling or numbness in the affected area

  • Severe pain that can't be relieved with medicine

  • Splint that feels too tight or too loose

  • Swelling, coldness, or blue-gray color in his or her fingers or toes

  • Splint that is damaged, cracked, or has rough edges that hurt

  • Pressure sores or red marks that don’t go away within 1 hour of removing the splint

  • A bad odor comes from underneath the splint

  • Blisters


Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit (axillary) temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.