My baby girl has been in casts for a full week. Her ankles are already straight! What a big improvement. I've had many questions about what the casts do, and the basic answer is that they help align the calves and ankles to be straight. It holds her legs in position and helps stretch out the tendon that has her legs curling. There is a science behind what angle her legs are held in. When she moves into the Ponseti bar braces they will be angling her feet into the correct position. Actually, they OVER correct because once she is out of the brace there will always be a period where the feet start to turn back inward. Yearly follow up appointments will make sure her feet are on track. So, casts take care of the legs and the braces take care of the feet. That is my understanding of it anyway!
Many of the support forums I am on for clubbed feet have parents who mentioned taking casts off at home the night before an appointment. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my husband, and before I knew it he was unwrapping the casts. It was terrifying to hold down my son while they took a buzz saw to his leg two years ago, so I didn't do a whole lot to stop my husband from manually removing our daughters casts. Here is a video of a little boy getting his spica cast removed... this is the sad baby we didn't have to experience this morning; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLvkUHnXq0A
At our appointment today we were scolded a little bit for removing the casts 16 hours before her appointment. They said that her legs were more stiff than they would have been and that they didn't bend as far as they probably would have had we let them remove it. My husband wasn't in the room, but I explained their concerns to him and I think his plan is to remove her casts manually the morning of her next appointment. I'm making him call in and get permission! I don't like not following doctors orders, and as much as this whole process can be painful/annoying I do know that the closer we follow their outlined planned the faster she'll be done with the whole thing. I'd hate for us to have an extra week of casting just because she isn't stretching as fast as they'd like her to be.
Next week she could graduate to the AFO shoes, or have one more week of casting. How well she stretching this week will determine our fate! I am hoping we'll be done! Casts might be the fastest part of recovery, but it is my least favorite stage for sure!