Have you ever had to wear a cast before? Then you probably know first hand how frustrating it can be. When you break a bone, the solution is typically wearing a cast until the bone can mend and heal. And while people have been using casts for decades and decades, that doesn’t mean it’s ideal.

For one thing, traditional plaster casts can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. You likely can’t get it wet, making taking a shower pretty difficult, and your range of motion is quite limited. Plus, try scratching an itch inside a cast! It’s near impossible.

One group of Chicago-based undergraduate biomedical design and electrical engineers decided that we needed an updated way to take care of a broken arm. They put their heads together and created a startup called Cast21, with a genius new design for today’s modern-day cast.

The three creators, Jason Troutner, Ashley Moy and Justin Brooks, all from the University of Illinois, conceived the invention during a senior design project while they were in school, but it was so good that they’re now working on getting it made for the world to experience. The design is particularly near and dear to Brooks’ heart, who has been in over 50 casts in his lifetime, and knows a thing or two about the challenges it can face.

Cast21 creates casts that have an open lattice design, which already makes it much more breathable (and no longer scratch resistant) since there are open spaces in the cast.

 

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Move how you want and eat what you want. The Osteon Defender gives you the freedom to enjoy even the messiest days!🍔 #nationalhamburgerday

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So how does it work? The cast is a flexible hollow sleeve that’s easily able to be pulled over the patient’s limb quickly and efficiently. A resin is then injected into the sleeve, creating a hard and sturdy cast that sets the bone in place to heal.

It’s a super quick process, setting in just around 10 minutes (when a plaster cast can take 30 to 45 minutes). Plus, as easy as it is to get on, it’s even easier to remove.

The new cast is also completely waterproof, which means you no longer need to wrap your cast in plastic wrap to shower and you don’t need to be as careful when washing your hands.

Best of all, this cast design doesn’t restrict you from doing the things you love half as much as a traditional plaster cast would.

“We have this radical notion that you can enjoy your healing experience,” said Cast21’s vice president of engineering Veronica Hogg. “You don’t need to be restrained from daily activities.”

Currently, the organization participated in UIUC’s iVenture Accelerator program and the Cozad New Venture competition. They also presented at the Hello Tomorrow Conference in Paris and Chicago Techweek. You can learn more about the cast creation here.

To hear more about how the developers got started with this project, including as well as when you can expect to see this new innovative cast in doctor’s offices, check out the video below.

Have you ever broken a bone before? What was the worst part of having to be in a cast, and what do you think of this new way to wear one?