What Is Serial Casting?
Serial casting is a process in which a well-padded cast is used to immobilize a joint that is lacking full range of motion. The cast will be applied and removed weekly, to gradually increase the range of motion in the affected joint.
Who Benefits from Serial Casting?
Muscle tightness can manifest itself in many ways and for various reasons. Doctors refer patients for serial casting to help improve overall quality of life, specifically those patients who have the following disorders:
- Cerebral palsy
- Spina bifida
- Brain or spinal cord injury
- Congenital abnormalities
- Muscular dystrophy
- Idiopathic toe walking
- Peripheral neuropathy
Why Would a Physician Refer for Serial Casting?
- Serial casting is a nonsurgical approach aimed at reducing muscle tightness around a joint. It may help to eliminate, delay or minimize the need for surgical intervention.
- Serial casting assists in achieving the optimum alignment of a joint. It also helps prepare a joint for the use of further orthopedic devices such as braces, splints, etc.
- Serial casting may help decrease the chance of a deformity developing and/or progressing due to abnormal weight-bearing.
What Happens During a Serial Casting Session?
Muscle strength and range of motion of the affected joint will be assessed prior to application of the cast. A team of therapists will apply the cast in the joint’s optimal position and range, and further instruction about care and precautions will be reviewed.
How Long Will I Need to Come for Cast Changes?
Casts will be changed on a weekly basis until a target range of-motion goal is achieved. Typically, the casting procedure is completed in four to six weeks, depending on how quickly your body responds.
What Happens After the Casting Is Finished?
The physician determines what may be needed in terms of orthotics (braces, splints, etc.) to help maintain the newly gained range of motion.
How Does Serial Casting Affect the Patient and Family?
A short accommodation time will be required, as the cast has added weight and the joint is now immobile. Daily routines are not altered significantly and patients can continue to participate in school and normal activities. The biggest challenge is keeping the cast dry. Sponge bathing is necessary to avoid getting the cast wet.