won't walk after broken leg has healed (aged 3 and a half)

(14 Posts)
sproutpudding Tue 05-Nov-13 12:52:52

My DD (three and a half) fell on the trampoline and broke her leg - unfortunately, for almost a week we and the GP thought she had just sprained her ankle and encouraged her to put weight on it, which must have been excruciatingly painful.

She was put into first an open cast up to her knee, and then a full cast which came halfway up her thigh. She was very nifty in the full cast and even danced! This was removed a week ago and although the break had healed she utterly refused to stand or walk on her 'bad' foot. The doctor at the hospital had advised us to return if she didn't walk and so today we did, and while he could find nothing the matter he suggested that she have a cast up to her knee to encourage her to walk - this will be removed next week.

She continues to refuse even to stand on her foot, although she says that it doesn't hurt.

She's not the most daring of children and I think those first days before she was given a cast have perhaps made her frightened. I know that she's only had the new cast since this morning, but can anyone give any suggestions as to how we could encourage her to use her leg again? We have tried putting things a little out of reach, but she just shuffles on her bottom or hops to get them.

Thank you very much! thanks

feetheart Netherlands Tue 05-Nov-13 13:07:15

My DS broke his leg at 3.6 too - full cast for 4 weeks, below the knee one for 4 weeks. Charged around like a loon on the below the knee cast - running, climbing, scootering etc but as soon as the cast came off he wouldn't walk at all. It took a few days (he really is the adventurous type so it might take your DD longer) and what did it was taking him around a food fair in his pushchair, he couldn't see what he wanted to from there so wanted to get out. After a while holding on to the pushchair he let go and that was that. He did tire quite easily for a while though as he got used to walking 'properly' again.

We did a lot of swimming/playing around at the pool in the weeks after the cast came off which I am sure helped him rebuild his muscles and might get your DD putting her leg down without her realising it.

Easy to say but try not to worry too much, she is 3, has been through quite a lot (as have you) and 3 year olds are weird smile

Have to dash off but will have a think and try to get back.

sproutpudding Tue 05-Nov-13 14:38:11

Thank you feetheart - God, 8 weeks in a cast, that must have been frightful for all of you! You are quite right, I should be patient, I just keep having stressy visions of her refusing to walk EVER again and me having to carry a 25-year-old around. I should definitely take her swimming, that's a good idea.

'3 year olds are weird' how true true true. Love them though.

feetheart Netherlands Wed 06-Nov-13 06:36:35

Not surprised you are having stressy moments - I found the whole thing emotionally and physically draining, especially at the start when he was in pain (so much so I started running to get a little headspace and a physical high! At that point I HATED running but needed the endorphins smile)

It seems that coming out of the cast suddenly makes you feel very vulnerable - my mum certainly said that when she broke her wrist and it has been my limited experience with DS (leg at 3.6, wrist at 4.6, he is 8 tomorrow and nothing since...yet. He is one of those children hmm)
Time and being casually mean ie keep expecting her to move about rather than helping her too much is, hopefully, the way to go but it is hard so look after yourself too.

Feel free to PM me if you need any moral support.

Chopstheduck Wed 06-Nov-13 06:51:13

Def do the swimming and I'd try taking her to soft play too - best physio you can get, and there will probably be stuff she wants to do there that she HAS to use her leg for.

Mmmango Wed 06-Nov-13 06:55:25

Not sure about 3 year olds, but I broke my leg when I was 29 and it took ages to feel comfortable putting weight on it again after the treatment. I wouldn't push too hard and trust that she'll find something interesting enough to make her forget about the leg eventually. Swimming pool sounds like a great idea.

I wouldn't help her do things, but would try to ignore when she's hopping/ bum-shuffling around so you don't turn it in to a battle of wills. (Actually I probably wouldn't be able to resist comments like, "Won't it be nice when you can walk again? So much quicker" in a jolly-with-an-edge-of-hysteria tone. Prob not very constructive though).

feetheart Netherlands Wed 06-Nov-13 06:58:15

Mmmango - love the 'jolly-with-an-edge-of-hysteria tone'. Think that is my parenting style, when I'm not going for benign neglect grin

My lb broke his leg last year aged 2.1 although it was his femur so slightly different. He didn't walk at all for two weeks after the rather impressive hip spica cast came off and then it was like watching a baby learn to walk in fast time. By that I mean he went through all the stages - cruising, walking with a baby walker, few steps etc. I think he did all that in a week but I can't remember exactly now. Do you have a baby walker she could use?

Oh yes, swimming v useful and not helping but ignoring that they're not walking seemed to work too. It will happen! Good luck! smile

Mmmango Wed 06-Nov-13 07:16:20

Ha! We're parenting sisters, benign neglect is my other strategy too, feet

Thepoodoctor Wed 06-Nov-13 09:30:39

Dd did exactly the same last summer at the same age. Really worrying especially when you are given to understand they'll be off and away once the cast is off.

Now a year on, doing swimming, dancing, gymnastics, walking miles - you will not be carrying her at 25! You will however have a special soppy smile every time you see her running and jumping if you're anything like me smile

We had some sessions of physio which just helped get her using the muscles properly again and was a bit more brutal about getting her to walk on it than her softie mum! She also had a small zimmer frame for a month or two which really helped bridge the gap and build up her confidence and strength.

Id ask for either of those and then patience, patience patience! pM me if you want.

Best of luck

Deanna36 Thu 07-Nov-13 08:33:43

Hi im in the same boat my son is 4 nxt month and had broke his tib and fib and had to hav an opp to put the bone bk straight as it was displaced he had a pot from toe to mid thigh he had that off on monday 4th nov and they put his a half pot weight bearin 1 on with a wlkin shoe while in the full cast he got rnd by draggin his leg and bein carried upstairs he is doin the same with this pot and wont put any weight in it he has this pot off 18th nov HELP ME i feel like ill be runnin rnd afta him foreva

sproutpudding Thu 07-Nov-13 10:14:50

Hello everyone, oh I am overwhelmed by all your kind messages, thank you so much! I feel SO much better having read them. And also thank you for the offers of PMs, I may very well take you up on them. However, I am already feeling calmer.

It's very true about expecting the cast to come off and ta-dah! DD to instantly start walking, thepoodoctor. I realised that it was my own expectations which were frustrating me, so I've tried to think not in terms of days but weeks.

Alas, I forgot, I can't take her swimming until this cast is off, so that will have to wait until next week. (And she doesn't like soft play very much.) Benign neglect and casual cruelty seem to me very helpful ways of proceeding.

Yesterday I invented a very boring subplot to an already boring story I was telling her; this involved a little rabbit with a broken foot and how her friends helped her to walk again. Heavy handed? Oh yes. But she made me tell it over and over again until I ran away. And this morning with a little bribery - you can watch 'The Nutcracker' if you just show us a little beautiful walking - she did limp around a bit hanging on my arms. Cue lots of praise for her bravery. She is also getting fed up with shuffling about on her bottom (we have tiled floors so rather cold). So there's hope.

Deanna you have my complete sympathy, your poor son's situation sounds a great deal worse than my DD's and you must be at the end of your tether! brew I hope that some of this excellent advice will help you. I keep telling myself that I have't met many adults who broke their legs as children and are still being carried by their mothers (despite my earlier worry!). And nor, I am sure, have you. Our children WILL recover. In the mean time, I do hope you are getting some time away from being the constant nurse and slave, it is wearing and frustrating.

Thank you again, everybody! I feel even a little weepy at how kind strangers can be. You are all wonderful.

feetheart Netherlands Fri 08-Nov-13 06:55:36

Deanna - it does get better I promise but it is a REALLY tough time for you as well as your DS. Don't underestimate the emotional and physical toll it takes having an active, independent 3 yr old who suddenly needs to be carried to the toilet, helped to get around, be entertained because they can't get around too well, etc. plus all the worry of hospital appointments, etc. I was shocked at how tough it was on me.

Also a word of warning - you will get a 'concerned' phone call from a health visitor/social worker. This is routine and NOT a reflection of your parenting. Luckily I had been warned or it would have freaked me out further, especially as DS's explanation to anyone who would listen was 'Daddy dropped me'! True but not exactly helpful and did produce a lot of shock faces.

DS turned 8 yesterday, is into everything sporty and is shaping up to be quite a good little gymnast so there is hope.

Take care of yourselves and PM me if you want to.

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