Three Illinois college students have designed the casts of the future. Their design, called Cast21, resembles a pretzel-like sleeve to support bones while healing.

Moy and Troutner demonstrate the cast at Chicago’s Techweek.
Image credits Cast21.

One of the worst part about breaking an arm has got to be the cast. Sure there’s pain and worrying and what not, but as far as sheer unpleasantness goes, the fiberglass cast takes the cake. You can’t shower with it, stuff gets caught under it and can’t scratch, it’s sweaty —  it’s a nightmare. So Jason Troutner, together with biomedical design engineer Ashley Moy, and electrical engineer Justin Brooks from the University of Illinois decided to bring the cast to the 21st century after partnering up at an engineering design class.

“Materials used in fiberglass casts aren’t waterproof; they absorb and trap water. Those are the two main problems we set out to solve,” said COO Jason Troutner.

“Fiberglass casts are poorly engineered and not patient friendly. For an engineer, it seems like such a lazy and impractical solution,” he adds.

The woven design of their cast makes it kinda resemble a pretzel, but it also removes most of the drawbacks of a regular cast. The sleeve has a mathematically-designed structure that gives the same support to the bones as a regular cast while allowing access to most of your skin, making for a cleaner and healthier skin — that you can scratch whenever you want. You can get it wet, so there’s no problem washing, it’s lightweight, and if needed you can remove the sleeve with some shears.

Image credits Cast21.

The sleeve is made up of hollow, interconnected silicone tubes. All a doctor has to do is put it over your arm and inject two liquids in the tubes — as they mix, the structure hardens. A lot of colors or designs can be created with the cast such as block colors, cammo patterns, even a “cookie and cream” motif. As far as the price tag goes, Cast21 will cost roughly the same as the traditional casts.

The team is now looking for investors to get them through the prototype and initial manufacturing stages. They hope to start trials on human patients by mid-2017. COO Justin Brooks has also expressed interest in expanding to the animal market.

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