A fiberglass cast is the plaster cast made from fiberglass material. Traditionally, plaster cast has been made of plaster of Paris.
A fiberglass cast is a lighter, synthetic alternative plaster of Paris. Fiberglass is also called glass-reinforced plastic[GRP] or glass fiber reinforced plastic [GFRP] is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers of glass.
Fiberglass cast is a lightweight and extremely strong material. As compared to traditional plaster of Paris cast, it is light in weight and more durable. It is three times stronger and but is only one third in weight.
Casts made of this material require less maintenance than those made with plaster.
Plaster of Paris casts are white in color. Fiberglass casts come in many colors and some doctors even let the patient choose the color.
Fiberglass cast, like its plaster of Paris counterpart, is applied in case of fracture treatment. The fiberglass cast however is not applied in acute settings because this cast is less accommodating to swelling or where the reduction of the fragments necessitates molding.
Fiberglass cast is less yielding to molding and to hold fracture fragments, moulding is required. In contrast, the plaster of Paris provides excellent molding.
Therefore fiberglass cast is used mostly in those cases where the healing process has already begun, acute period of injury has passed and fractures which are not displaced.
Fiberglass sets quickly, therefore experience is required to time the application well. It is hygroscopic [absorbs water] and setting time decreases with humidity and warmth.
Another aspect that needs to be looked into is the expense. Typically a fiberglass plaster bandage costs more than plaster of Paris bandage but number of bandages required in a given setting are less.
But still the cost of a plaster of fiberglass is more than traditional plaster of Paris cast.
Fiberglass cast application
Initially a stockingnette sleeve is applied which extends proximally and distally beyond the limits of where extent of the cast. Over this, a cast padding is wrapped especially covering bony prominences.
Both ends of the stockingnette sleeve may be folded back over the cast padding to give attractive well-cushioned ends to the cast.
The physician wears gloves [synthetic casting materials can create an exfoliative dermatitis when exposed to bare skin]
Next, the roll of synthetic cast material is removed from its packaging while limb is kept in desired position by assistants. Some people apply it directly while others apply it directly without immersing.
As it is applied, it should be stretched, allowed to relax, and then laid on the limb. The bandage should not applied in tension. Desired number of bandages are applied depending on limb position, circumference and extent of the cast.
After some time, the cast material will begin to harden with exothermic reaction.
Here are two videos on fiberglass cat application.
Fiberglass cast application – Short arm cast
Fiberglass cast application – Leg cast
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