If you’ve ever had to wear a plaster cast, you definitely know what discomfort is. These plasters are heavy, they’re not waterproof and you therefore need to cover them with something when you shower, and when taken out, they cause such an unpleasant smell.
However, with this innovation by a startup company in Chicago, the discomfort and itchiness of plaster casts may become part of the past. Their innovation, called Cast21, could change the way we mend our broken bones.
This cast features a wide mesh sleeve that’s slipped onto the wrist of patients and then filled with a liquid resin which hardens fast and sets the bone in place.
Could Plaster Casts Become a Part of the Past?
This breathable and waterproof cast is the brain child of Ashley Moy, Jason Troutner, and Justin Brooks, all from the University of Illinois.
It can be put on in approximately 10 minutes and the goal was to create a suitable replacement for the plaster cast which often makes wearers’ skin itchy and may even trigger infections.
On the other hand, the Cast21 is much more hygienic and breathable.
Cast 21’s vice president of engineering, Veronica Hogg, said that they want to enable people to enjoy their healing from a broken bone without having to be restrained from their day-to-day activities.
How Is the Cast21 Placed?
After a diagnosis of a broken bone, the doctor or the nurse will measure your limb. Then, when they have picked the suitable sized cast, they will place it on your limb and fill it with the liquid resin.
Once the sleeve is full, it requires around three minutes for it to become workable. The doctor can mold the cast to fit your limb and then wait for 5 more minutes so that the resin fully hardens.
What’s more, this cast is very easy for removal, unlike traditional ones which require a circular saw which is quite loud, leaves a major debris all over, and the process is quite messy, and for some, even scary.
This is definitely a major setback as most fractures happen in children, adolescents, and elderly that are quite vulnerable.
With the Cast21, the doctor takes shears, snips through the tabs, and pulls the cast open. It doesn’t require a saw and the healing process will definitely be improved.
When can We Expect this Cast in Hospitals?
Though we may look forward to it, this innovation is still unavailable because the company has only designed a forearm model in a medium size. They will now work on creating one for the legs too.
Their goal for now was to prove that this tech works and they’re now beyond the prototype stage and have a fully functioning forearm cast model.
They hope that this tech could be used for different body parts and offer a longer arm model and a model which will go towards the fingers too.
The designers also want to make the cast affordable and available to as many patients as possible.
They don’t want to make it a luxurious thing, stated Hogg. They’re therefore still researching price sensitivity and the price will depend on the patient’s insurance and their doctor.