How to Apply Orthopedic Fiberglass Casting Tape

Orange casting tape on fiberglass cast
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When you break a bone,  your doctor will immobilize the affected area to allow for proper healing. In most cases, this will involve putting on a cast. A cast is made out of a hard material, like plaster or fiberglass, that surrounds the broken bone and keeps it from moving. Fiberglass casts are often preferred over plaster because they're lighter and more comfortable to wear.

The process of applying a fiberglass cast involves casting tape. But what exactly is cast tape? In this blog post, we'll take a look at what cast tape is, what it's used for, and how your doctor will apply a fiberglass orthopedic cast using casting tape. 

What is Casting Tape? 

Fiberglass casting tape is a type of medical tape that is used to create casts for broken bones. Fiberglass casting tape is a type of resin-impregnated fibrous cloth that hardens when exposed to air or water. 

What is it Used For? 

Casting tape is commonly used by orthopedic specialists to immobilize injured limbs. It can be used to stabilize broken bones, muscles, and torn ligaments. The tape provides support and protection while the injury heals and can be removed once healing is complete. 

How Does Fiberglass Cast Tape Work?

The tape is made from a stiff, yet pliable material called fiberglass. When the tape is exposed to moisture, it forms a hard shell around the area that it covers. This helps to keep the bone or joint in place so that it can heal properly.

How to Apply Fiberglass Orthopedic Cast with Casting Tape 

Doctor preparing patient for fiberglass cast application
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Step 1: Prepare the Skin 

The first step is to clean the area where the cast will be applied. Your doctor or cast technician can use soap and water to cleanse the skin and then can dry it off. 

Step 2: Apply the Stockinette

The next step is to pull the tubular stockinette over the broken limb. The stockinette is used to help wick sweat from the body. It also provides a smooth surface for the casting tape to be applied. 

Step 3: Apply the Padding

The third step is to wrap the cast padding around the arm, over the stockinette. The cast padding is there to provide a cushion between the limb and the fiberglass cast tape. It also helps to keep the limb comfortable during wear and reduces heat exposure from the cast saw.

To apply the padding, your doctor will unroll the padding over the limb, making sure to cover all exposed areas of the skin and stockinette. Once they have covered the limb, your clinician will cut off any excess padding and set it aside. They may do this a few times to add layers of padding.

Step 4: Apply the Casting Tape 

Two different methods can be used to apply the fiberglass casting tape: the dry method and the wet method. In both methods, your clinician will wrap the tape around multiple times, making sure that each layer covers half of the previous layer.

The Dry Method 

To use the dry method, a clinician will simply unroll the casting tape and wrap it around the limb, following the contours of the limb. Once a clinician has reached the end of the roll, they can use scissors to cut off any excess tape and smooth down the edges of the tape with their fingers to ensure that there are no sharp edges. Moisture from the air will harden the casting tape.

The Wet Method 

To use the wet method, a clinician will unroll the casting tape and dip it in water or spray it with water so that it is saturated but not dripping wet. They will then wrap the casting tape around the limb, following the contours of the limb, smoothing down the edges of the tape with their fingers so that there are no sharp edges sticking up. Once they have reached the end of the roll, they can use scissors or cut off any excess tape.

You can learn more about fiberglass casts here

Is Casting Tape Waterproof? 

A man with wrist fracture showering with fiberglass cast
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Yes, casting tape is waterproof. Casting tape is made of a water-resistant material that can be used in both wet and dry environments. However, it's important to check with your doctor before submerging yourself in water, as other materials used in the casting process (such as stockinette and cotton bandages) may not be waterproof. If the cast gets completely submerged in water, it can cause the fiberglass to unravel and the cotton bandage to swell. This damages the materials and weakens the cast. In addition, a wet cast could lead to an unpleasant odor or even an infection.

Learn More: 9 Signs You May Have an Infection Under Your Cast 

If your fiberglass cast is not waterproof, be sure to cover your cast with a waterproof sleeve or bag when taking a shower or bath. Patients can use special covers to protect the cast from getting wet. Learn more about how to keep your cast dry in the shower

Fiberglass Cast Care

When you have a fiberglass cast put on, it is important to follow the doctor's instructions for care. Here are some cast care tips:

  • Keep the cast clean and dry. The fiberglass part of the cast is designed to repel water, but if the padding underneath gets wet, it can lead to skin irritation or even infection. If you get your cast wet, use a hair dryer on the cool setting to dry any wet areas.
  • Never shove objects inside the cast. It may be tempting to reach in with something to scratch an itch, but doing so can damage the skin, may lead to infection, and can disrupt the healing process.
  • Do not put any lotions, oils, or powders on the skin under the cast without first consulting your doctor. This can cause skin irritation.
  • Avoid activities that could impact or put pressure on the area with the cast. This could potentially damage the cast or cause further injury.

If you have an itchy cast or you notice your cast has a foul odor, learn more about how to deal with these common problems. 

Cast21 Orthopedic Alternative Does Not Need Fiberglass Casting Tape

Young boy in swimming pool wearing Cast21

For years, orthopedic casts have been made out of fiberglass, a sturdy yet flexible material. However, there are several downsides to fiberglass casting tape. First, it can be difficult to apply, and second, it can cause skin irritation. Additionally, the tape must be removed with a cast saw in order for the cast to be removed, which can be painful and scary. Cast21 orthopedic casts offer a superior alternative to fiberglass casts that use casting tape. 

How Cast21 Works

The cast 21 system is a new and improved way to create orthopedic devices. The cast21 sleeve has an open lattice design that provides superior breathability, which helps to prevent skin irritation and infection. The pack contains a proprietary liquid formula that hardens into a solid. Once the liquid is in the sleeve, it rapidly hardens to create an orthopedic device that is strong, lightweight, and molded to the patient's body. This system is less invasive than traditional methods, and it provides a more comfortable and customized fit for each individual patient.

If you are interested in switching to the Cast21 System, ask your doctor about Cast21 or contact us for more information. 

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