Supportive Devices (Casts, Splints, Braces)

Author: Kryijztoff (Kryz) Novotnaj, BHA, GBA, CBP, CCMA, CWS, MPHi-CE

With summer fast approaching, many people are getting outdoors, kids are playing sports, everyone is enjoying beautiful weather, and, breaking their bones. Accidents happen, and when they do, supportive devices like casts, splints and braces are necessary to the healing process.

Supportive Devices, like casts, splints and braces protect broken or injured bones so they can help reduce pain, swelling and help the bone heal. While they primarily support bones, it is common to have a supportive device for muscles and ligaments. Depending on your medical need, your doctor will choose whether a supportive device is the best way to treat your injury. While the materials used for supportive devices are different, they primarily work the same. Your doctor may give you other medical equipment such as a sling, walker or crutches if you have a supportive device on your leg or arm. Your doctor will request that you keep your supportive device on for a specific period of time.

It is important that you do not remove your supportive device without speaking with your doctor as this may cause you further injury or slow down your healing and require additional treatment.

Costs

In healthcare, providers and hospitals use medical coding to charge for procedures. In the instance of a supportive device, your doctor or your facility will use a combination of revenue codes (facility cost center codes), CPT codes (actual procedure performed) and HCPCS codes (typically materials and supplies). These codes are supported by an ICD-9 code (diagnosis) that allows a provider to “bundle” other codes for your costs. A typical cost for a supportive device includes the cost of a first visit with a doctor at an office or an urgent care clinic that lasts approximately 30 minutes and the cost for your supportive device. It will also include costs for any labs, x-rays, MRI/CT scans performed and the cost for the actual materials.

Quality v. Quantity

“Why is quality just as important to quantity (the costs)? “ Think of it this way: When buying a new car, you want to make sure it has all of the right features to make for the perfect driving experience; without them, you are less likely to buy the car. After all, that same car down the street might be cheaper, but it might come without a radio. But, is it still a good buy? As you see, cost and quality are both important when buying a car, just as they are important when shopping for a supportive device. While the cost of the supportive device itself may be irrelevant (because the doctor doesn’t allow you to choose one over the other), the doctor may be more expensive than the doctor down the street, who may be cheaper AND be a specialist in services pertaining broken bones, etc. While some cases it is hard to determine which is more important, consider the following before getting services:

Don’t delay care If you have constant, intense pain, have severe swelling, exposed bone or you lose normal use of the injured body part, seek treatment immediately. Delaying treatment can cause further injury and could become life threatening.

Supportive Devices (Casts, Splints, Braces)

Get care at the right place Call your doctor or advice nurse for treatment suggestions; they may save you the cost of an office visit.

If you feel you need medical care, see your primary care doctor. Primary care doctors keep track of your medical history, whereas doctors in urgent care centers often do not send your records to your primary doctor

If you can’t see your primary care doctor, consider going to an urgent care clinic. Generally, urgent care clinics offer the same quality as a doctor’s visit and are cheaper than hospital emergency rooms.

Don’t go to an emergency room unless you think you have a medical emergency.

See doctors who are in your network. Your insurance plan has negotiated lower rates with doctors in your network.

Take care of your supportive device It is important that you take care of your supportive device so you don’t have to get a replacement unnecessarily. Having a supportive device replaced may result in additional costs to you.

Bathing with a Cast

Showering with a cast is ok depending on the type of cast. If it is made of plaster, it’s not a good idea to have it exposed to prolonged use of water.

They can easily wrap their cast in a plastic bag or cover and fasten it snug, but not too snug so as to cut off circulation and then shower. There are

Actual cast covers that can be purchased to protect them from weathering and moisture.

Factoid

  • Materials such as plaster and fiberglass are used on the outer layers of casts to help stabilize and prevent your body part from moving.
  • Eating foods high in calcium and phosphorus such as milk, broccoli and almonds can help promote stronger bones.
  • Keep stairwells clear and well lit, put non-skid strips in showers and bathtubs, and keep cords and objects out of household walkways.

It is advised that content within this document should not be interpreted as medical advice, clinical advice or any other type of consultancy that requires specific licensure to practice medicine, teach medicine or diagnose patients. Information contained within is for illustrative purposes only. If you are experiencing a health related emergency, seek the advice of your healthcare provider or call 911.

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