Gadsden orthopedic clinic to begin using 3D printed plastic casts

Gadsden orthopedic clinic to begin using 3D printed plastic casts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new type of cast and splint could make life easier for orthopedic patients and their doctors.

A new startup company called ActivArmor offers plastic removable casts that are custom made for each patient.

Northeast Orthopedics in Gadsden will soon be the first in that area to use these. Representatives of ActivArmor were at the NEO Gadsden location Wednesday to demonstrate the cast for WBRC, and to train NEO employees.

The company’s president, Diana Hall, says the plastic is the same used for Lego blocks. “You can pretty much do anything you want to in it during the summer.”

Imaging software traces the patient's arm or leg, to get the correct dimensions within a half millimeter, meaning each cast is custom fit only for that patient. It's then printed on a 3D printer.

Then it can be worn practically anywhere--in the shower, in the pool, even on the practice field.

“I think it offers the benefits of being able to feel more secure when the patient goes into the swimming pool over the summer, and get the arm wet,” says Dr. George Douthit, an orthopedic surgeon and partner at NEO. “It will also help a lot with our athletes, to get them into something like this, and allow them to return back to the football field, and be able to get the cast dirty, and take it off and wash it, as opposed to the traditional cast, when you either had to put on a new cast or you had to practice and play with a dirty cast.”

In fact, Hall tells us NFL players will begin wearing them during football season.

Hall says the webbed design doesn't trap bacteria against the skin, which in turn doesn't cause the itching that often bedevils cast-wearing patients. She says they're not only removable, they're reusable, and even recyclable.

"You don't have to have those scary cast saws getting the cast cut off and reapplied for every exam and X-ray, and these actually transition from a cast, a lock-on cast, to a removable splint," said Hall.

Northeast Orthopedics will begin fitting patients with these next week.

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