Technology has allowed the orthopedic realm to become extremely progressive, so it’s time that the old, itchy plaster casts get an upgrade.
A company named Cortex is designing an exoskeletal cast that can be 3D printed. The cast will have a slim design while still providing the same sturdy protection that plaster casts provide. How is this possible?
First, as a broken or fractured arm is X rayed, it will also receive a 3D scan. After your orthopedist reads the data, 3D software locates the damaged areas of the limb that need the most support and calculates the best pattern and fit for the cast. A 3D printer then prints two halves of a nylon cast that your doctor will snap together, holding them permanently in place.
The cast actually takes on a honeycomb look, having differently shaped holes in the structure. This is designed after trabecular, which is a lattice-pattern tissue found inside our bones. The software allows the most material to be concentrated on the fractured area that needs the most support while the entire cast is lightweight, ventilated, and less itchy. The nylon is also water proof so you won’t have to cover your broken arm with a plastic bag in the shower. On top of the more sophisticated and convenient design, 3D printing casts is cheap and the nylon material is recyclable.
The cast design comes from entrepreneur and college student Jack Evill. Hospitals still must test and adopt the new technology, but his ingenuity is certainly taking orthopedic care to the cutting edge.