When you or your loved one breaks a bone, the typical prescription is a cast. Sometimes, the patient will receive a splint, or clamshell, cast. If the foot is involved, occasionally a “walking cast” (also known as a “fracture boot” and commonly known as an orthopedic walking boot [think Star Wars boots]) is dispensed. But, there are times fractures or conditions require an external fixator, also known as Ex-Fixes.
Ex-fixes are external “cages” that stabilize an appendage (leg, foot, arm, hand, finger, …) to promote healing. Most people are familiar with them as “halos” when someone has fractured their vertebrae in their neck or spine. Most ex-fixes are unsettling to look at because the appendage (leg, foot, hand, shoulder, etc…) is often swollen and bruised, with rods sticking into the limb. Quite often blood soaked cotton pads at the pin point are an unintended visual of the device.
Why an Ex-Fix and not a cast? Sometimes injuries or conditions are so severe they require constant manipulation to ensure proper healing. The rods and screws can be adjusted, externally, to accomplish this, without requiring additional or minimizing the number of necessary surgeries. Sometimes “ex-fixes” is a treatment choice. CastCoverz! owner’s 17-year old daughter, Elli, was in a serious car accident and her femur was crushed. The femur is the biggest bone in your body and is in your upper thigh. Her orthopedic surgeon gave Elli and her parents the choice of a rod inserted or an ex-fix around her leg. For a variety of reasons, they opted for the rod.
Healing with an ex-fix is typically a long, inconvenient, and often precarious process. Quite often leg and/or foot ex-fixes require bed rest. Compassion and adjusting your expectations for the patient is necessary during this trying time. Often physical surroundings have to be adjusted, too. Remember, as the caretaker, nothing is as inconvenient as what your loved one is enduring.
Because of the obvious unease when looking at an ex-fix (many patients describe it as people staring at them), covering their ex-fix is an important part of a patient’s well-being and healing. CastCoverz! has an experienced custom sewing department that creates custom covers in a variety of fabrics made-to-order for each ex-fix customer. One memorable customer requested (and received) a camouflage cast cover. Yep, a hunter went traipsing in the woods and bagged a deer with her foot/leg in an ex-fix covered in camo. P.S. She was on the the last “leg” of her healing and had consulted with her doctor (at least that’s what she told us 🙂 ).