This user-friendly 3D-printed medical cast could revolutionize the treatment of broken bones. The orthopaedic plaster cast has been used for decades to heal broken bones. Besides being heavy and bulky, its use comes with a slew of limitations including itchiness, rashes and an unbearable odour. It seems like Turkish industrial designer Deniz Karasahin of DK Design Studio might have just found a viable solution to these issues. A four-month study on the subject has led Deniz to develop a prototype of a medical cast that aims to improve the whole experience of healing fractured bones.
The design ‘Osteoid’ that has won the Golden A’Design award in the 3D Printed Forms and Product Design category for 2013-2014, focuses on the patient’s comfort; for which the patient’s limb is scanned via a 3D body scanner to create a 3D-printed cast that fits to the tee. Deniz has tackled the biggest challenge — a fully functional locking mechanism.
For the cast to be strong enough to protect, practical enough to be worn on the fragile injured area, yet effective in the healing process without straying away from the general form of a medical cast, the Osteoid is made from two detachable pieces, fixed together with a flexible pin. The result is a slimmer, lighter and water-resistant cast with a lattice pattern for ample ventilation that does away with smells and itches. More importantly, the Osteoid enhances the rate of bone healing through the use of low-intensity pulse ultrasound (LIPUS).
While the LIPUS system has been around for years, it has never been successfully implemented since probes are required to be directly placed on the injured area—a criteria not fulfilled by conventional casts. The Osteoid’s design allows for this through attachable probes, also produced using a 3D printer. Single 20-minute daily LIPUS sessions promise to reduce the healing process up to 38% and increase the rate of healing up to 80% for non-union fractures, or bones that fail to heal for three to six months.