Life In A Body Cast
Before I spent the rest of my childhood years in a neck stretching modified Milwaukee brace, the first two years aged 8 to 10 years was in a body cast from my buttocks to and including my head.
I had a quite severe scoliosis affecting my whole spine, but mostly high up in my neck area.
My treatment was firstly by what is called serial casting, we are talking late 1950s, to be followed by a modified Milwaukee brace until I stoped growing, in other words from when I was aged 8 until I was 16 when it was thought I had reached skeletal maturity, was spent cast and braced.
I was stretched on a traction fr
The worst part of this cast was the neck portion. The plaster was moulded over my shoulders but was raised so it did not exert any pressure on my shoulders, then continued tightly moulded to under and over chin, whole back of my head and forehead.
The neck portion was extended so my neck was stretched in the cast and I only felt the full affect of this when the head halter holding my neck in traction was released and pulled out the side of the cast and the chin piece and rear head piece pushed up hard to maintain the neck stretch.
At the same time the pressure of the cast pushed downwards over my hips and very tight on my buttocks to maintain the stretch.
The cast had also been made very low at the front which they trimmed and told us this would be further adjusted when I was mobile in a few days.
The whole cast had been put on so tight I could't move my head at all in the cast, but the tightest part of the cast was over my stomach and this is where it pressed in really hard.
They told my parents that sometimes they cut a blow hole over the stomach area to releive some of the pressure to allow the stomach to expand when eating.
In my case this was not to be. Because my paricular cast needed to be so extensive to address and to force correction I was to remain totaly encased.
This caused problems because I could only eat small ammounts of food because there was nowhere for my stomach to expand under the plaster so I had to eat small meals at more regular intervals. I can only describe the feeling as being in a extreamily tight corset, but not removable.
After a few days I was got up. They told my I may feel a bit dizzey after lying on my back for several days, but I was ok with this.What I was not prepared for was the weight of the cast, my knees nearly buckled when taking the full weight of the plaster on standing, this is something I would get used to they told me.
I was walked to a full length mirror to see the full extent of the cast and I burst into tears on seeing myself. It was so bulky and so noticibly thick. They had tilted my head back slightly so I was partially looking up and could not see the ground directly in front of me. They had also arched my back in the cast which made my bottom stick out.
I was now to learn how restricted this cast was through a series of attempted motions I was told to do.
They wanted to know if the cast was completely immobolising me which they said was so important when I was being held in a high neck stretching posture.
First I was told to try and look up as much as possible. I tried my hardest but only managed to lift my chin very slightly of the chin portion.
Next try and look left and right just turning my head. Totaly immpossible not one fraction of an inch movement possible.
Next try and look down, again no movement.
At these results they were happy with my head was completly immobolised.
They led my over to a hard upright chair and told me they were going to sit me down. On sitting I had to keep my legs together in front of me.
They took my weight under my arms and slowly lowered me on the chair. My bottom was still about six inches off the seat and the lower front of the plaster was digging into the tops of my legs and has it did so I could feel the chin and rear head portions of the cast pushing up even harder.
They stopped at this point and marked the bottom of the cast and started to trim it to the line they had made.
They slowly sat my down again until I couldn't get any lower about four inches off the seat. Again more trimming. Again I was sat down, this time my bottom was about two inches off the seat before the plaster was pressing on the tops of my legs and I heard them say right we go al the way. Once down on the seat I could not actually feel my bottom connect with the seat as I was actually sitting on the plaster over my buttocks.The plaster was now pushing hard on the tops of my legs and the chin portion was pushing up so hard under my chin I could bearly open my mouth and the portions moulded over my shoulders were raised higher.
They told my parents this is how it had to be, they would not trim any more off the cast because in this sitting position the cast was forcing more corrective forces. They told my parents the lower the chair the more the cast would push up.
It was a nightmere getting cloths to fit over the cast because it was so thick and bulky. I wore trousers with elasticated waists and T shirts two sizes to big. During the summer months the cast was my upper clothing with the cast in full view.
I had cast changes every three months. Each time a new cast was applied they forced a little more neck extension, they told my it was to allow for how much I had grown but it didn't feel like it.
After two years the cast was finally removed for good but only to be replaced with a modified Milwaukee brace which basically did the same job as the cast.
As anyone else had to experience such a cast, and how did they feel.