Looking after your child in a plaster jacket 

A jacket is made of plaster of Paris with layer of padding underneath and it is moulded to fit your child’s spine. This is to improve the curvature of your child’s spine by changing the position each time it is done.

The doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) will have explained in more detail the reason for your child’s plaster jacket in clinic.

A general anaesthetic is needed to put on the plaster jacket. This is because your child needs to be very still as the doctors needs to gently straighten the spine before applying the plaster jacket. This is to ensure the best possible fit.

The plaster jacket is changed approximately every three months. Your child will come to the hospital to have the jacket removed. This is done while your child is awake and is normally done the day before the procedure to have one fitted. This is to ensure that they can have a bath before the new one is fitted.

Care of the plaster jacket

Before your child goes home the jacket will be checked to make sure that they can sit and move their arms freely in the jacket. Your child will still be able to crawl or walk in the jacket as they did before. Some children become unsteady on the days they have the plaster jacket removed.

Do's

  • Keep the plaster jacket dry. Your child will still need to be kept clean, using a damp flannel, sponge or baby wipes, but the plaster jacket cannot get wet.

  • Hair washing can be difficult. Smaller children may be able to lie on the draining board with their head over the kitchen sink. Older children may be able to lean backward over the edge of the bath for hair washing.

  • Check your child’s skin regularly – if you see any sore areas, please telephone the clinical nurse specialist as soon as possible. Outside of working hours, please contact the nurse in charge on Sky Ward.

  • Your child will still be able to do as many activities while the plaster jacket except activities except activities involving sand or water.

  • Your child may need to wear clothes a size larger than usual to get them over the plaster jacket.

  • Put waistbands of trousers, leggings, tights and underwear over the top of the plaster jacket rather than tuck them underneath.

  • Your child may feel full more quickly when the jacket is first in place so may need smaller meals more frequently. 

Don’ts

  • Do not get the plaster jacket wet.

  • Do not do any activities that involve sand. Sand could get inside the plaster jacket and cause irritation and even pressure sores.

  • Do not put anything inside the plaster jacket. It could irritate the skin and cause infection.

  • Do not use creams or talc inside the plaster jacket. These become gritty when mixed with sweat which could also irritate the skin.

  • Do not cut or heat the plaster cast. If the plaster cast gets wet, do not try to dry it with a hair dryer, as this could cause burns. If the plaster is uncomfortable, rubbing or digging in, contact the hospital. 

Watching for problems with the plaster jacket

  • Your child should not feel any pain while in the plaster jacket, but it may feel uncomfortable at first.

  • Please contact the hospital immediately for advice if:

    • There is any oozing or wetness under the plaster jacket.

    • The plaster jacket starts to smell.

    • The position of the plaster jacket changes.

    • The plaster jacket becomes loose, cracks or breaks.

  • You may be advised to take your child to your local hospital. 

  • If you have any questions, please ask the ward for advice. 

Compiled by: 
Sky Ward in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
April 2014
Ref: 
2014F0975

Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic GOSH information sheet. If you have specific questions about how this relates to your child, please ask your doctor. Please note this information may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.