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If you have sustained an injury to the lower leg then it’s important that the area is supported and protected during the healing process. While a cast can be heavy and uncomfortable, a walking cast boot is much more preferable, so it’s no wonder that they’ve become such a popular option.
What is a Walking Cast Boot?
There are many names that you may hear this type of equipment being referred by; walking cast boot, walking boot, walking cast, or a CAM boot. But in any case, they’re one of the same thing.
These boots are designed to keep the foot stable after an injury, and this aids in the healing process. They also ensure that you don’t put any weight on the area but will progressively allow for this as the injury heals. Sometimes, a doctor may advise the use of a walking cast boot instead of a traditional cast.
One of the great things about a walking cast boot is that it can be removed, which can make it easier to do things like take a shower or go to bed. However, your doctor will tell you how often and for how long you need to wear the boot, and you should follow this advice. Furthermore, the CAM boot is fully adjustable, which is useful over the course of healing.
What Injuries is a Walking Cast Boot Suitable for?
A walking cast boot is a very versatile healing aid that can be used for a wide range of injuries. They are generally used as a way of protecting the ankle and/or foot and are common in the treatment of sprains or fractures. Furthermore, a walking cast boot is ideal for patients who have suffered torn muscles or injuries to the Achilles tendon. Owing to their lightweight design and according to the intensity of the injury, you may be able to partially continue using the limb.
CAM boots are also commonly used after surgery and provide support and protection during the rehabilitation period. It has been demonstrated that the use of a walking boot may reduce the healing time after surgical procedures. This is largely thanks to the design of the boot, which enables the patient to walk more easily, therefore, increasing the function of the injured foot.
Further studies have shown that using a walking cast boot over a traditional cast may reduce the healing time of fractures by as much as three weeks.
Types of Orthopedic Walking Cast Boots
There are several different types of walking cast boots and your physician will advise you on which one is right for you.
High Walking Boot
When you think of a walking cast boot, it’s likely that you’ll first imagine a high-top boot as these are one of the most common types. The boot goes over the foot and comes up to around the halfway point of the calf. This is because they are ideal for treating injuries that may have impacted this muscle but are also great for ankle injuries.
This type of walking boot has a cushioned leg wrap that is typically tighter than other options and also features an outer layer that is solid and durable. This section is normally made from plastic, but there are some boots that also have metal components.
The high walking boot is often used to immobilize the lower leg during the healing period and can be used for a much wider range of injuries. You’ll often see it being used after surgery, and it is well known for its ability to speed up healing.
Short Walking Boot
The opposite to the high walking boot is the short walking boot, sometimes referred to as a low walking boot. These are also commonly used after surgery but are normally used for patients having undergone procedures on the soft tissues of the feet, for foot fractures, and metatarsal damage, among other things. For injuries that are not quite as severe, these low boots are the preferred option.
In terms of appearance, they look very similar to their high-top counterparts, but they sit just above the ankle. This offers less support for the calf and shin, demonstrating why they are more suitable for foot injuries.
Air Cast Boot
More modern and innovative, the air cast boot has a lot of features that make it easier and more comfortable to use. For example, these boots are designed with an air cushion that offers the perfect balance between comfort and support. In addition to this, you’ll find that they are much easier to adjust and so can be customized to your needs which may further improve the overall healing time.
An air cast boot, while incredibly supportive and protective, is only designed for less severe injuries and therefore cannot be used in the treatment of fractures or broken ligaments. For this reason, it may be prescribed when a hard cast is no longer needed, but the patient may not be ready for a high or low walking cast.
One of the great things about the air cast boot is that it has the ideal blend of features of both a traditional cast and the high or low cast boot. This means that the patient can remove the boot when necessary but will also get the support needed when wearing the boot.
The air cushion inside the boot is ideal for dealing with swelling, as the fit can be adjusted as swelling reduces during healing. Moreover, using compression means that you have a degree of control over any swelling, therefore improving comfort. Of course, this additional feature does come at a cost, but it’s often worth it.
How to Put On a Walking Boot?
Normally, when you are given your walker boot, you will also be advised on how to correctly fit it. This is incredibly important as the right fit will ensure the maximum support and that the boot will work as intended.
- To begin with you may wish to wear a large sock to provide yourself with additional comfort. Putting a sock on while you have an injury may be uncomfortable, so the best way to do this is by scrunching this up so that the toe part can be easily accessed. Once your toes are inside, you can begin to unroll the sock.
- Next, you will need to open your boot using the Velcro straps. Depending on the boot, there may be up to five of these. You’ll need to keep these open using your hand, which will ensure that the front of the boot remains open.
- Make sure that you are sitting down when putting on your boot, standing may reduce your balance and cause you to fall. Slowly place the heel to the back of the boot and then take the soft inner lining and wrap this around the leg and foot.
- You’ll now pop the front piece over the boot and begin to close the Velcro straps. It’s best to begin with the lower straps, near the toes, and work your way upwards. Ensure that the straps are tightly closed but not so tight that they cut off your blood flow.
This ends the steps for regular high or short walking cast boots but if you have an air boot then there are a few additional steps.
- The air chambers will be located on the inside and outside of the ankle as well as at the back of the boot. These need to be inflated individually.
- Most boots will feature a dial that can be twisted to point towards the number of the chamber you wish to inflate.
- You will then need to use the black button located above the dial to inflate the air cushion. Typically speaking, it’ll take around ten pushes. Repeat this process for all chambers.
- Check that the air cushions are equally inflated and that your leg and foot feel comfortable. To improve comfort and how easy it is to walk, it’s recommended to wear a platformed trainer on your other foot.
- When you have finished wearing the boot, you will need to deflate the air cushions before taking it off. To do this, you’ll find a small black button below the twist dial which you should push once for each chamber.
Wearing a walking cast boot is generally kinder to the skin than a solid cast, but it is still important that you check your feet and legs every day to ensure that the boot has not chafed or caused any wounds.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Walking Cast Boot
Walking cast boots come in a range of designs and sizes, each of which is designed to treat and support different injuries. For this reason, it is essential to choose a boot that is going to provide you with the right treatment and improve your healing time.
It’s important that your walking cast boot offers a comfortable and correct fit, so one of the first things you will need to look at is the size. Generally speaking, these walking boots will come in sizes that correspond to shoe size, so it’s pretty easy to find a good fit. You’ll notice that they come in XS, S, M, and L and most boots will have a size chart to help you choose what’s best for you. If you don’t take the time to choose the right size you’ll find the boot to be uncomfortable not to mention that it won’t offer the right amount of support.
Short or High Walking Boot
Tall walking cast boots are usually suitable for a much wider range of injuries. They often sit halfway up the calf and are ideal for lower leg injuries as well as injuries to the ankle such as sprains, soft tissue injuries and metatarsal injuries, among others. If your injury is more severe than a high top walking cast boot is likely the better option owing to increased support and an ability to securely immobilize the leg as it heals.
A short walking cast boot is typically used to treat less severe injuries like toe fractures, injuries to the soft tissue of the foot, and after foot surgery. If you don’t need as much immobilization or support, this is usually the better option.
You might also consider your height when choosing between short or high walking boots, as many taller people find that a taller boot feels more comfortable. On the other hand, shorter people may get on better with a low boot, even with more significant injuries.
Air or Non-Air Walking Boot
If you are looking for an adjustable boot that will adapt with you as your injury heals, then an air cast boot might be the right choice. These boots have air cushions that can be inflated or deflated according to your needs and factoring in things like swelling and discomfort. In terms of swelling, the compression of these boots can often be used to reduce this.
They will fit comfortably around the lower leg and are often used to transition from a hard cast to a regular walking cast boot. They are very supportive and will help to immobilize the limb during healing.