The use of plaster orthopedic casts for the rehabilitation of bones can cause infections and ulcers because sweat accumulates inside, they generate little ventilation and do not allow proper medical inspection. To avoid these problems, a group of young graduates from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) created Mediprint, a Mexican startup that manufactures tailored medical devices through 3D printing.
“The material with which conventional splints are made is plaster, which is highly hygroscopic. This means that it absorbs sweat and causes the bacteria to proliferate because there is not good ventilation,” said Zaid Musa Badwan Peralta, graduated from Mechatronics Engineering at the UNAM Faculty of Engineering and founder partner of Mediprint.
The main product, which has been already patented, is called NovaCast. It is an artifact made with 3D printing to replace plaster casts in immobilizing limbs. NovaCast has the advantage of being 10 times lighter, removable, visual appealing and personalized; it is even possible to bathe with it.
“The project started when my mom had an accident at work and broke his left hand. They put her plaster cast wrong, and they had to fracture her hand again surgically to place it right. However, they again placed the splint wrong; and then they diagnosed her with 50 percent disability in that hand,” said Zaid Badwan.
He explained that in worst scenarios, there are people who have been amputated due to wrongly use of plaster casts, because they accumulate bacteria and cause ulcers that may create severe complications when are not properly monitored. Furthermore, he added, if they are misplaced, the bone does not heal properly permanently affecting mobility.
Zaid Badwan also designed a piece of software that allows defining the precise measures of the medical device without the need to make a 3D scan. “It only requires that the doctor enters the data, and automatically generates the ideal geometry for printing,” in this way the specialist can attend other patients while the device is printing.
A NovaCast is obtained in an average of three and a half hours, depending on the size of the person. “We are doing research and development to reduce that time to one hour. The next steps are bringing this technology to hospitals and increase the number of 3D printers.”
Source: Agencia ID