The innovative product comes in a range of vibrant colors, which the designers claim would make the healing process "far more pleasant."
As someone who is quite prone to injuries and broken bones, there is nothing more annoying than having to wear plaster casts. They're heavy, they're itchy, they get in the way of practically everything, and they stink after a while. Even getting rid of it is a straight-up nightmarish experience as you have to sit in silence and watch in horror as the doctor comes at you with a saw to hack the thing off. Fortunately, we humans are a smart lot who love finding solutions to all kinds of problems and now a Chicago-based startup has come up with a lightweight, breathable, and waterproof alternative to the traditional plaster cast.
According to The Daily Mail, this revolutionary orthopedic product has been developed by a start-up named Cast21 and is being touted as a long-awaited update to awkward plaster casts. The innovative alternative is a mesh sleeve that can simply be slipped onto a patient's wrist and filled with liquid resins which harden into shape within minutes. It comes in a range of vibrant colors, which the designers claim would make the healing process "far more pleasant." Speaking to the publication, Cast21's vice president of engineering Veronica Hogg said, "We have this radical notion that you can enjoy your healing experience. You don't need to be restrained from daily activities."
With Cast21, the messy and time-consuming process of cast setting is reduced to a less-than-ten minute procedure. As for how one would go about getting one of these stylish casts, the physician starts by measuring the damaged limb with a flexible measuring tape. After selecting the correct size for the patient, they slide a flexible, slightly padded sleeve onto the individual's arm. The physician then mixes a duo of patented liquid resins and pours the mix into the empty sleeve using a valved nozzle.
Once the sleeve is full, it takes about three minutes for the liquid to turn into a malleable gel, after which the doctor molds the product to fit the patient's limb. You then wait five to seven more minutes for it to completely harden. If the easy cast setting process and the stylish yet functional design aren't impressive enough, perhaps the fact that you won't have to face a circular saw to get it off might do the trick. "The majority of fractures happen in children, adolescents and the elderly. Those saws are very loud and all this debris flies off and it's very messy, it can be extremely frightening. The cast saw also presents a risk of burns to the patient," said Hogg.
"Our product does not require that at all. It's designed so that a physician can take clinical shears, snip through the tabs and pull it open easily. It was designed to completely eliminate the use of a cast saw and make the healing process far more pleasant for the patient," she added. Speaking of the setting process, Hogg revealed that there is no pain associated with the device's hardening. Moreover, the exothermic heat produced as it hardens could even be beneficial. "It feels soothing. It reaches about the same temperature as a hot tub," she said.
"Another bonus is that no electricity or water is needed to apply our cast, so it's very portable. It has the potential for use in the military and for at-home first aid. I'm from Colorado and I like to go hiking, the equipment needed to administer our cast is so small and lightweight that hikers and climbers could carry it with them in their backpacks," Hogg added. Unfortunately, Cast21's innovative product isn't available to the public yet. As of now, the company only has a forearm model designed in a medium-size and hopes to expand their sizing and create casts for the lower legs in the near future.
"The idea is to prove that this technology works right now, we are past the prototype stage and have a fully functioning model in place for the forearm. We hope this technology can span across the entire body. We are looking forward to having a lower limb model for ankle fractures soon. With the technology, we can also do a longer arm model or a model that goes up to the fingers as well," said Hogg. As for how much it would cost, she revealed that the aim is to make it as accessible as possible. "We want it to be competitive, and reachable to a large population. We don't want this to be a luxury product. We are still conducting research in price sensitivity, and the final cost to the patients will be depending on their insurance and doctor," she said.