Product of the Week: Pediatric Limb Immobilizers

Product of the Week: Pediatric Limb Immobilizers

Starting with a mother’s need to protect her son, The Medi-Kid Company has grown to make the widest variety of arm, leg, and wrist immobilizers on the market

Parents do not want to physically immobilize their children, but sometimes it’s necessary to keep them from complicating medical conditions or harming themselves.

For instance, when infants, toddlers, or kids simply cannot resist picking at their surgical sutures, poking at painful areas that must heal, or pulling off eyepatches or other treatment devices, pediatric limb immobilizers that immobilize their arms, wrists, or legs may be required. These immobilizers can also provide needed support for children’s arms or legs when there are strength, control, or balance issues.

Because of these benefits, pediatric limb immobilizers are increasingly used in children’s conditions ranging from cleft palate and amblyopia to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and even chronic thumbsucking (which can lead to tooth and gum problems). These immobilizers have become increasingly popular among surgeons, doctors, nurses, dentists, physical therapists, ophthalmologists, and parents.

Yet when parents must immobilize or support their children’s limbs for their own good, it’s vital to do so in a gentle, loving way that minimizes any discomfort or trauma to the child.

Before advanced pediatric immobilization wraps were developed, however, parents and doctors used very basic objects to serve as arm and leg immobilizers. In the past, items such as Pringles potato chip cans, magazines, tongue depressors, and plastic water bottles have been jury-rigged as devices, using string and tape to put them together, often with improper fit.

Surgeons have traditionally used plaster casts to restrict access to sutures among infants and children. While offering protection, however, casts are time consuming to make and remove, and are inconvenient and uncomfortable for children.

Designed By a Parent for Parents

When Melinda Siwek designed a pediatric arm immobilizer for her son in 1984, following his cleft palate surgery, the goal was to allow use of his hands but speed recovery by protecting the surgical site from his inquisitive, prying fingers. Cleft palate, a condition that occurs when the roof of an infant’s mouth does not fully close during pregnancy, often requires multiple surgeries after birth to close the gap.

Little did Siwek know that in creating a gentler, more humane way to immobilize children’s limbs, she would create her own medical product company that would still be serving families and medical professionals almost 30 years later. After doctors offered to buy her product, she applied for patent rights and trademarks, and today, The Medi-Kid Company makes the widest variety of pediatric arm, leg, and wrist immobilizers on the market under its Pedi-Wrap brand.

The “original” kid-friendly immobilizers (the product has spurred several copycat devices), Pedi-Wraps are now sold around the world and have helped over 500,000 children to date. Unlike jury-rigged devices and plaster casts, ready-made Pedi-Wraps are less traumatic to infants and children, as well as adjustable, removable, and kid friendly.

Made of soft, padded material to reduce chafing, with plastic inserts sewn into pockets for rigidity, each immobilizer is attached to a child’s arm or leg by wrapping it around the limb, then using the built-in Velcro panel to secure it in place. The Velcro width allows further adjustment, assuring a comfortable fit. This enables parents to quickly apply, remove, and re-apply the Pedi-Wraps, for bathing or to give their child’s limbs a chance to relax. Unlike other models, the immobilizers are machine washable and dryer safe, which eases cleaning, improves hygiene, and reduces skin irritation.

Parents and medical professionals are finding Siwek’s pediatric immobilizers helpful in treating a wide range of childhood issues including:

Cleft Palate. When a child is born with a cleft palate, or gap in the roof of the mouth, it can affect feeding, speech, and breathing. Multiple surgeries are often required to close the gap. The pediatric immobilizers gently prevent children from putting objects in their mouths or touching the surgery site, giving it a chance to heal.

Opthalmology. Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, is a condition of poor vision in an eye that develops in childhood when misaligned, unfocussed, or cloudy eyes “turn off” and become myopic. The pediatric immobilizers gently prevent children from removing the eyepatches used to treat amblyopia.

Brachial Plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves in the spinal cord that controls movement in the shoulder, arm, and hand. Injury to it during childbirth or an accident can leave the arm functionless, and may require multiple surgeries for treatment. The pediatric immobilizers prevent children from touching the surgery site, giving it a chance to heal.

Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral palsy is a group of movement, learning, hearing, seeing, or thinking disorders, typically caused by brain injury or abnormalities occurring during pregnancy or the first two years of life. Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, surgery may be needed. In these cases, pediatric immobilizers can protect the surgery site. They may also provide needed support to arms or legs, which may help to manage muscle weakness, tremors, or abnormal movements.

Spina Bifida. Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine. Since surgery is usually required, the pediatric immobilizers can help protect the surgery site afterward. They may also help provide needed support to arms or legs, when muscle or joint problems occur.

Physical Therapy. Physical therapy is treatment to restore or improve strength, balance, or range of motion to achieve everyday tasks. In such cases, pediatric immobilizers can add support during “weight bearing” therapy, and when children’s arms and legs require night splinting.

Dentistry. Chronic thumb sucking can lead to gum damage, space between teeth, and speech problems in children. To prevent chronic thumb sucking, particularly during sleep, pediatric immobilizers are used. These can be a cleaner, more reliable solution than placing a bandage on a child’s thumb or having a dentist fit a palatal arch to the roof of the child’s mouth to discourage thumbsucking.

While the benefits of pediatric immobilizers can be significant, giving children a choice in design can make a difference in how cooperative they are.

According to Siwek, children are far more willing to wear immobilizers if they can personalize their devices by choosing their own color and fabric pattern. As a result, the Medi-Kid Company offers immobilizers in hundreds of fabric options from ponies and princesses to bikes and trucks.

“If a pediatric immobilizer is necessary to keep children from complicating medical conditions or harming themselves, why not make it fun to wear?” asks Siwek.

“Giving children a wide selection of fabric colors and patterns can make the difference in whether they cooperate or not, particularly at night or when unsupervised,” adds Siwek. “Then when their limbs need to be immobilized, rather than having to wear an annoying medical device which they are likely to remove or complain about, they can actually make a fashion statement that reflects their own interests.”

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