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Background: Traditional treatment for femoral shaft fractures in children aged 6 months to 6 years old is closed reduction and immediate spica casting. Pediatric femur fracture and spica cast treatment place unique burdens and stresses on the family. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact on the family from an ecological perspective of immediate spica casting for femoral shaft fractures in children using appropriate validated family functioning questionnaires.
Methods: Families of 46 children aged 0.5 to 6.0 years old who were treated with immediate one and a half leg spica casting for femur fracture were surveyed using the Impact on Family Score (IFS), the Feetham Family Functioning Survey (FFFS), and qualitative comments. The impact of spica cast treatment on family functioning was determined for multiple domains and compared between subgroups.
Results: Spica cast treatment for pediatric femur fractures had major impacts on the families of 46 children with a mean age of 2.9 years (range, 0.5–6.0 years) across multiple domains. The IFS demonstrated greater impact of spica cast treatment than treatment for children with major chronic illnesses. There was a greater impact on family for school age children (5–6 years old) compared to younger children (0.5–4 years old) for the overall IFS score, the general impact IFS domain, the disruption of family IFS domain, the coping IFS domain, and the overall FFFS discrepancy score. There was greater impact on family for children of working parent(s) compared to children with a parent at home for the overall IFS score, the general impact IFS domain, the disruption of family IFS domain, the coping IFS domain, the financial impact IFS domain, and the overall FFFS discrepancy score. There was no correlation between duration of time spent in hip spica cast with either IFS or FFFS discrepancy score.
Conclusions: Pediatric femur fracture and spica cast treatment can have a major impact on family functioning, particularly in school age children and in families with working parents. Providers should consider the impact of treatment on family functioning and recognize that each patient and family unit require education and varying levels of support. Education to families of children undergoing spica cast treatment may help prepare them for the various ways their household dynamics could be affected throughout their child’s treatment.