When your child has a broken bone
A broken bone is a common childhood injury, besides the regular bumps and bruises.
Children usually break a bone after a fall, and no matter how small the break is, you will need your child to get immediate medical attention.
According to Today’s Parent, the signs of a broken bone are swelling, pain, crookedness and the inability to move the specific body part. Your child is unable to put their weight on the broken bone too.
There are severe cases of broken bones, too – for example, an obvious break pierced through their skin. In an incident such as this one, call an ambulance and keep your son or daughter still. While waiting, make sure that you gently support the injured area with a pillow or folded blanket.
Signs, symptoms and what to do with a broken bone
A broken bone is usually easy to spot. You may hear a ‘snap’ or grinding noise during your child’s fall. It will be a shocking moment, but you need to stay calm.
If the injury is small, remove clothing from the injured spot. Wrap an ice pack in a cloth and apply it to the area. Do not move the broken limb. Please keep it in the same position as you found it.
If you have a splint, put it on the broken area. It will keep the bone still and protected until you see a doctor. A homemade splint is made from a small board, cardboard or folded newspapers. Use an elastic band or tape to wrap around the splint. Your child must not eat or drink, especially if they require surgery.
Severe injuries to your child’s head, neck or back, call for the ambulance to come to where you are. An ambulance is also necessary if the broken bone is sticking out. Keep your child in a laying down position and do not wash their wound try to push the bone back in.
See a paediatric specialist.
Your child’s bones aren’t similar to yours. Their bones are still growing, and the treatment you choose to heal the broken bone will have a long-term impact. It is up to you whether the effect is negative or positive for your child’s growth.
A paediatric-trained radiologist or orthopaedic specialist understands the various needs of children, especially when diagnosing and treating their bones. An expert from CHOA says that, unlike adults, kids may have fractures at growth plates, which is the specific part of the bone where bone growth occurs. A growth plate that is damaged and neglected can slow or stop the bone’s development, or the bone may grow crookedly.
A broken bone is not always prominent when it comes to children’s bones. Growing bones have more cartilage, meaning that they aren’t as dense as adults. Your child’s break may be in the gaps of their bones or joints.
Your paediatric radiologist will use X-rays to see if your child has a broken bone. Sometimes a break is hard to see on a growth plate. An MRI may be needed in this instance. Specific guidelines are used for the MRI, and every scan is customised for your child with as little radiation as possible.
Fixing the break after the X-ray may include a cast. It is either plaster or fibreglass. Fibreglass is lighter than plaster and more durable. However, the choice the doctor makes between the two has good reasons.
Fibreglass is mainly used on a stable fracture, especially if the break is clean and not out of place. Some hospitals charge extra for a fibreglass fee.
On the other hand, there are instances where your child may be lucky and not need a cast at all.
Prevention is the key.
Safety gates are helpful at your bedroom doors and at the bottom and top of staircases (this is more for infants and toddlers).
If you take your child outdoors to ride their bicycle, become familiar with helmet and safety gear rules. Young athletes follow these rules too, and it doesn’t only fit for bicycle riding, but tricycles, skateboards, scooters and rollerblades. Experts advise parents also to avoid infant walkers.
iER is a user-friendly app. The graphically appealing mobile app connects an extensive database of South Africans to a centralised management system of emergency service providers. Alerts go out, and emergency responders dispatch to an emergency.
According to iER, pressing a single button will connect you to a call centre that will assist if you are on the side of the road. The call centre knows of your location and the nature of your emergency. iER provides emergency services with your vital information, including your blood type, medical aid, personal security number and next of kin. The more information is given, the more effective their assistance will be.