Unless you intend to keep your child locked up in the house forever, sheltering them from the outside world is not only impossible but also ill-advised as well. Kids need to be exposed to not only positive stimuli but also negative stimuli to have a wholesome development. Unfortunately, exposing children to the outside world necessarily means that they might get hurt in the process of exploring, and incur serious injuries such as fractures. However, you do not need to be helpless when your child gets a fracture. Here are some meaningful ways and tips that might help you the next time your kid gets too playful.
How can I tell if a bone is broken?
It is easy to tell if a fracture is in play, especially for kids’ elbow fracture and kids’ knee fracture. The easiest way to gauge an injury is to observe the response of your child. If he is screaming and crying, it is likely that he has sustained a heavy injury. There would have been a ‘snap’ sound as well.
Look out for signs of swelling (inflammation) and deformity. If there is a bump or even an exposed bone, it is likely a fracture. However, just because there is no bump or an exposed bone does not mean that there is no fracture! There is a case where a fracture is non-displaced (where the broken bone still rests aligned with its original position). If unsure, seek medical attention immediately.
Where are the most common areas of fractures in kids?
Kids wrist fracture, kids elbow fracture and kids knee fracture are some of the most common types of fractures around. This is due to the fact that one has a natural response to lift up their arms to protect themselves when falling. However, this does not mean that these are the only areas where a fracture can happen! Fractures can happen anywhere, especially on the knee. Think of ‘key’ places where kids usually land on when they fall. Kids knee fractures are very common due to the common sports we play in Singapore as well (basketball, soccer etc.)
What should I immediately do when my kid has a fracture?
Firstly, ensure the affected area is not moved until it is attended by medical staff. Do not touch any open wounds unless there is severe bleeding. Immobilize the wound, and apply ice to the affected area(do not apply ice directly onto the skin, use a cloth) but not on the wound itself. This will minimise inflammation and swelling, and consequently pain. If you can make a makeshift splint to immobilize the wounded area, do so. This is especially helpful during a kid’s wrist fracture or elbow fracture as children tend to fidget even when wounded.
Secondly, bring your child to a hospital. Use your personal vehicle to do so, and only call an ambulance if you are not with your child and he cannot be driven to the hospital. There are different kind of fractures, and only trained medical staff can decide what is the next best course of action. The 3 common areas of fracture, kid’s wrist fracture, elbow fracture and knee fracture all have different types of treatment options. Usually, after an X-ray is taken, and an injury is elucidated fully, a doctor can decide what to do. Typically, the bone is set after local anaesthesia is injected, and a cast is placed to help your child support his arm. The bone then fully heals after 1-3 months.
It is also a good idea to go to a pediatric for an opinion as they are specialists who have tons of experience in dealing with fractures in children. Usually, a doctor is the first option right after a fracture but there are specialists pediatric doctors like HC Ortho’s Dr Henry Chan who are open 24 hours for such emergencies. It is actually wiser to go to them as hospitals (especially NUH and SGH are very crowded, often even TTSH A&E) have a long waiting time. Compared to some of their common A&E patients, your children might not see priority too since fractures aren’t usually as “emergency” when compared to chest pains and breathing difficulties.
It is vital to keep yourself calm if an accident happens, as your child would be in an even more delirious state than yourself. Assuage your child by comforting him, and promising him that you will cook his favourite meal later.
How do I take care of my kid while he is recovering from a fracture?
Be sure to help your child dress and clean himself while he is recovering, as it is extremely likely that your child will have a limited range of motion. This is also due to the fact that water must not enter the cast at all, or moisture may build up, resulting in a potential infection. It is usually recommended that a protective bag be placed over the cast to prevent water from entering it. For kids’ wrist fracture and kids’ elbow fractures, it is useful to take away their attention with some TV or video as this lowers their chances of moving their arms unnecessarily. For kid’s knee fracture, he is usually going to be immobilized on bed or wheelchair for quite some time, unfortunately.
If your child feels itchy, utilise baby wipes or baby powder to quell the itching. You can also use a wet cloth to wipe your child if it is inconvenient for him to take a shower.
Be sure to educate your child on what is necessary of him as well. Your child might not be aware that he needs to avoid putting any force on his injury, or may put himself at risk by watching his friends play soccer.