Traditional techniques for casting or splinting a fracture use a large heavy cast made from plaster-of-Paris, fiberglass, or polyurethane. While functional, there are many disadvantages including weight, a required pre-wrap, wetting the plaster, an uncomfortable heating reaction from the plaster activation, long drying time, and a difficulty in keeping the cast clean.
Splints, more common in field settings, can be difficult to align and offer less protection to the injury area. Air splints and malleable aluminum splints require a medic to move the fractured limb, which can cause pain and additional damage.
A new invention for immobilizing fractured bones is available to businesses who would license and commercialize.
Dr. Kevin Martin, an Army orthopedic surgeon, has developed and tested a new approach using fast-setting foam.
The polyurethane foam is sprayed directly onto the skin – no uncomfortable or unsanitary cotton wrapping needed. Therapeutic agents such as antibiotics, analgesics, or clotting compounds can be added to the foam.
Note that the fracture can be immobilized without being manipulated thereby decreasing the potential for secondary tissue injuries, bleeding, and infection. Also unique to this novel process: wounded areas can be left exposed through masking before the foam is applied.
In a comparative study between the foam and a malleable aluminum splint on a lower extremity fracture, the spray foam technique provided superior longitudinal traction and fracture site immobilization.
- Near immediate immobilization of fracture with a high strength-to-weight ratio foam
- Does not require pre-wrapping
- Can be used as a compression bandage in an emergency situation
- No painful or uncomfortable heat is generated during foam setting
- Eco-friendly material is waterproof and fire retardant
- Foam is transparent to imaging equipment
- Businesses can acquire the technology for commercial development by licensing US patent 9,427,489 and US application 20160317343
- Potential for collaboration with Army researchers
- License fees are negotiable
- TechLink provides licensing assistance at no charge