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3D-Printed Cast Improves Patient Comfort

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 08 Jul 2013
Image: The Cortex 3D custom-printed nylon cast (Photo courtesy of Jake Evill Design).
Image: The Cortex 3D custom-printed nylon cast (Photo courtesy of Jake Evill Design).
A concept exoskeletal cast design provides a localized support system that is fully ventilated, extremely light, waterproof, hygienic, recyclable, and stylish.

The Cortex cast is a three-dimensional (3D) custom-printed nylon cast generated from a scan of a patient’s limb and an X-ray to identify the zones that need the most support. The resulting fabricated cast is thinner and lighter than traditional plaster casts, yet at the same time is just as strong and durable; the denser areas of the cast’s lattice provide additional stability and support at and around the point of the fracture. Moreover, as the Cortex is fully ventilated, showering is easier, and smell and itch are not an issue as the skin is easily accessible.

The exoskeletal cast is delivered printed and ready to wear. One side is open to enable placement, and once fitted, it is snapped close with durable built-in fasteners. The Cortex cast mesh grain is designed to be tightest at the fracture sight, providing extra supports where needed. The cast design also uses less material to produce, and since the material is recyclable for another cast, there is less overall waste. The concept design is the brainchild of Jake Evill, a graduate of the architecture and design school at Victoria University (Wellington, New Zealand).

“Cortex exoskeletal cast provides a highly technical and trauma zone localized support system,” said Mr. Evill. “Patients would first receive an X-ray to pinpoint the nature of the break and would next have their arm scanned to determine the outer shape of their limb. Lastly the Cortex cast would be 3D-printed, with optimized levels of support around the break area to provide a snug fit.”

An orthopedic cast is a shell, frequently made from plaster, encasing a limb (or other parts of the body) to hold broken bones in place until healing is confirmed. The cast is made of cotton bandages that have been combined with plaster of Paris (calcined gypsum), which hardens after it has been wetted. Bandages of synthetic materials are also available, often knitted fiberglass bandages impregnated with polyurethane. While these are lighter and dry much faster, plaster can fitted more snugly, and therefore makes for a more comfortable fit. In addition, plaster is much smoother and does not snag clothing or abrade the skin.

Related Links:

Jake Evill Design
Victoria University



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