Learning how to function while wearing a cast is no easy feat. Whether you are trying to get dressed with a broken arm, walk with a leg cast, or write with a cast on your writing hand, living with a fractured limb can be daunting and difficult. If you rely on your car to get to work every day (or for carpool), no doubt you are also wondering: Can I drive while wearing a cast?
The following expert tips will guide you on how to deal with wearing a cast and significantly reduce the inconvenience so that you can better function and manage while your broken bones heal.
Common Cast Complications
Since it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks for most adult fractures to mend (somewhat less for children), cast complications are bound to surface. Due to doctors’ cardinal rule for cast wearers - “Don’t get your cast wet!” - much has already been said about how to safely bathe and shower and even swim with a cast. However, much less is known about how to perform simple daily activities when you have a broken arm, a broken leg, or any other type of fracture.
Have you ever tried to put on a pair of jeans while wearing a leg cast or get dressed with a broken arm? How can you do homework, tie up shoe laces, or get around with a cumbersome cast weighing you down? And under what circumstances, if any, are you allowed to drive while wearing a cast?
Here are some solutions to these common cast struggles:
How to Get Dressed While Wearing a Cast
- Select clothing made of stretchy material which fits easily over bulky casts
- Select clothing without zippers or buttons
I put on a long sleeve shirt then look at my left arm and say, "well the cast won't fit under that" #injuredprobz— ⚽Jesse Cooper⚽ (@jjcoop_12) October 20, 2013
- Wear shirts with short or no sleeves
- Using your good arm, put your shirt sleeve over your cast first, minimizing movement of your injured arm
- Select pants with an elasticized waist and skirts which easily pull over your head
- Select clothing with pockets, which is especially practical when you can’t carry a handbag or when your arms are busy maneuvering crutches
- Drape a shawl over your shoulders to stay warm instead of struggling with putting on/removing a winter coat or jacket
- Ask a family member or friend for assistance in getting dressed
- Ask your doctor, occupational therapist, or physiotherapist for special assistive devices designed to help cast wearers function and put on shoes and socks using only one hand
- If you are a fashion-conscious cast wearer, try a colored cast or transform your cast from clumsy to cool with a cast tattoo or a stylish fabric cast cover. And don’t forget a high-quality cast protector to keep your cast dry and your limbs protected as they heal
- Finally, avoid any movements which cause pain during the dressing process
How to Write While Wearing a Cast
If your cast is on your writing arm, you will likely not be able to write. Ask your boss/teacher to accommodate your needs (i.e. dictate notes or take tests orally) and for assistance in completing homework.
If your cast is on your non-writing arm, use a heavy object or book to hold your paper in place and to secure run-away materials while you write, minimizing the need to move/use your casted arm.
Driving with a Cast
The results of numerous studies and investigations are clear: Driving is not recommended for anyone wearing a cast (or any other device which limits joint mobility). According to studies, even wearing a wrist splint can significantly impair one’s ability to operate a vehicle, while it takes longer to break while wearing a leg cast; in all cases, emergency reaction times are longer. Hence before you get behind the wheel after sustaining a fracture, be sure your doctor has cleared you to drive safely.