Hip Spica Equipment – What do you really need?

Hip Spica Equipment – What do you really need?

Hip Spica EQUIPMENT – what you do and don’t need

It’s less than 2 weeks to go until Harper gets her cast off and I get to have actual real squishy cuddles with her again (as opposed to trying to cuddle an awkward lump of fibreglass).  To help all of you about to embark your hip spica journey or for those of you that are curious I’m summing up my best and worst equipment purchases!

There’s several lists out there that will details all the equipment you will need.  Being a total control freak I researched everything I could possibly think of and had everything purchased and ready before Harper’s first operation.  The physio in the hospital were even a little bit shocked at how much we already had prepared!  But here’s the thing, did we need it all?  Read on to find out my best and worst purchases for our experience with a child in a hip spica.  I’ve decided to concentrate on equipment you might think you need but don’t, as well as things you may not have even thought about!

Hip Stix

What do you use it for?

A Hip stix is a tool used for changing nappies whilst your child is in a hip spica.  I don’t not possibly think we would have found nappy changes anywhere near as easy without this.  In Harper’s first cast it was impossible to get her nappy flat and up inside her cast.  The hip stix allows you to simply thread a nappy down the back of the hip spica, meaning you are just that little bit safer from the dreaded poonami blowout.  In Harper’s second cast there was a lot more room and I probably could have changed her nappy without it – but it was just so quick and simple to do we carried on using it.

The Cost

These cost me a small fortune.  A lady in the states makes them and they are available on Etsy here.  They are annoyingly just over price that customs slap on VAT and Royal Mail stick an extra charge on top so in total they cost me  about £40!  I’ve since managed to make my own for a fraction of the price.  (If you’re interested in knowing how to make your own subscribe to the blog as that blog post will be along soon!)

Good or Bad Purchase?

It’s a bit of both if I’m honest.  It’s one of the most used items through our hip spica journey.  If we went back into hip spica I would not be without one.  However I think you’re far better off making your own and avoiding customs charges.  There’s also the fact that not everyone finds they need one depending on their childs cast.  So again making from scratch is the best way to go here!

Newborn Car Insert

What do you use it for?

You may be thinking what on earth did I buy a newborn car insert for?  You may have read somewhere that you will need lots of cushions/blankets or rolled up towels to help get your child in a hip spica comfortable in their pushchair.  We tried doing this and it just seemed lumpy and bumpy and not very comfortable.  I then remembered that the newborn car insert from Harper’s old car seat was actually a triangle wedge-shaped cushion.  This means it was perfect for placing in her pushchair.  It even already had gaps to thread her straps through.  Harper’s two casts were both different shapes so we did have to change our pushchair at cast change.  We did however already own two pushchairs so were lucky to avoid extra cost.  In both cases without the newborn car insert she wouldn’t have fit or been anywhere near as comfortable.

The Cost

For us it was free as we already had one! You can pick them up second-hand on ebay for as little as £10-£20.  This is a considerable saving compared to having to buy yet another pushchair.

Good or Bad purchase?

Good. Although for us it strictly wasn’t a purchase, it’s been used everyday and has made her very comfortable.  It’s also meant we haven’t had to go out and purchase yet another pushchair.

Bean Bag

What do you use it for?

Bean bags are recommended everywhere for hip spica children.  It’s a comfortable way to support them fully whilst they’re recovering and the bean bag can mould to fit any cast shape. These are great for when children have first had their hip spica applied.  They certainly wont want to be crawling around on the floor the day they come home from surgery.  It took Harper almost 2 weeks to even want to be placed on the floor when the hip spica went on.  Even after that it was  further week until she started to commando crawl.

The Cost

I paid £24 for my bean bag from Amazon

Good or Bad Purchase?

Probably the top of my bad purchase list for us.  Within a week she had realised she could wiggle her self off the bean bag!! She found this a hilarious game.  Whilst i was thrilled she was happy, I wasn’t keen on the idea of her managing to throw herself off a beanbag! She also got quite hot and sweaty whilst using the bean bag.  I also now have a giant yellow bean bag taking up space that’s no longer needed.  Looking back I would look to borrow one from a friend for the first couple of days.  The other option would be to make your own seat using cardboard boxes and pillows such as here

Specialist Car Seat

What do you use it for?

To transport your child safely – now that they can’t sit in a regular chair properly!  If you drive you WILL need a specialist car seat without a doubt.  Either a child’s legs will be cast too wide to fit in a regualr seat or just at such a ridiculous angle that they can’t even sit up in a car seat.  With Harper’s first cast she didn’t even fit in the specialist car seat.  We were saved once again by the newborn car insert, the wedge allowed her to actually sit in the car seat properly. IMPORTANT: PLEASE DO NOT USE CUSHIONS OR WEDGES IN YOUR CHILDS CAR SEAT WITHOUT SEEKING ADVICE FIRST. Our physio at the hospital was happy with her using the car seat insert for travel.

Cost

I bought mine second-hand off another hip spica parent on facebook for £80.  I’ll probably keep it afterwards as a spare car seat for my eldest child (who has cerebral palsy), as it will allow him to travel forward facing with a harness up to 25KG.

Good or Bad Purchase

Good.  It’s a neccessity if you’re going to be driving with your child in the car.

Legwarmers

What do you use them for?

I’d read everywhere that legwarmers were a must for a child in hip spica.  Most trousers wont fit so you need something to keep their legs warm.   You can also use them to cover the cast and stop it from getting dirty when children start to crawl in their casts. I promptly went out and bought loads of them.

Cost

Not terribly expensive.  I bought a bunch of Dotty Fish ones as I’d read on forums that they were good.  They also did a fab range of patterns. 5 pairs cost me £14.99 delivered on amazon

Good or Bad Purchase

For us this was a total waste of money.  I was unable to stretch the leg warmers to fit over her cast properly.  Harper was casted to the ankles on both legs so these would be a better purchase for a child who has only got one leg casted.  Harper’s cast hasn’t  got too dirty from crawling round on the floor.

Smart Trike

what do you use it for?

I wished I had bought a smart trike right at the start of Harper’s treatment.  As it was i waited until it was her birthday to buy one.  Smart trikes are great because almost any type of hip spica cast will fit in it.  Harper loves to sit in hers indoors and she can be pushed round in it too by her big sister.  She also loves to be taken out in it for a change of scenery.

The cost

As mine was a birthday present I bought it brand new.  It cost £99.99 which is quite  lot bt you can pick up second-hand ones on gumtree or ebay for a lot less.

Good or Bad Purchase

Good.  I wish I’d just bought one of these instead of a bean bag!

 

Patterned Duck Tape

What do you use it for?

I bought several rolls of patterned duck tape.  Initially these was for making my own hip stix but i quickly realised I could use it on her cast.  The sleek tape (the flesh coloured tape) on her first cast wouldn’t stick properly and kept coming off.  The duck tape kept this stuck down and made the cast look better in my opinion!

Cost

I bought all fine off ebay.  You can pick up the mini rolls for less than £2 posted.  I think in total i went through 4 rolls.  This includes repairs and decorating two hip spica casts as well as using some towards making my own hip stix.

Good or Bad Purchase?

Good.  It was lovely being able to vary how Harper’s cast looked.  There are loads of patterns available.  I highly recommend taping round the bottom of the ankles on the cast where the fibreglass meets the padding.  This area takes some beating over the 3 months when they start to crawl.

Other Equipment

There were several other equipment items that we used on a daily basis, such as a hip spica table and a really good fitting raincover.  All of these items can be picked up second-hand, hired or if you’re really lucky you might find someone passing things on for free.  I was lucky enough to pick up our hip spica table that way.  Another item that frequently makes it way on to equipment lists is a high chair.  Certain high chairs allow more room for wide legs.  I’m so pleased we didn’t purchase one of these and were able to test Harper out in a friends high chair.  Turned out she didn’t even fit in the recommended ones.  Instead we used her hip spica table for mealtimes.

I just want to add in here that just because something didn’t work for us, doesn’t mean it wont work for you.  All children and all hip spica casts are different.  I hope that this article gives you some food for thought though and saves you some money!

Have you found any pieces of equipment that were a total waste of money?  Maybe you found something that worked much better and much cheaper.  Let me know in the comments below!

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