Casts and splints are an outer casing, usually used on a limb to keep a broken bone or bones in place while it heals. In the event of a bone being diagnosed to be broken, a cast is put around the fractured bone to protect it and allow it to heal unimpeded.
Orthopedic casts that we use today have evolved from the ones used by the ancient Egyptians that date back to 3200 BC. From the primitive bark tree splints used by the Egyptians, a major change that has happened to the theory of cast improvement is the concoction of several remedies to be used as hardening agents.
In the 1500’s, Ambroise Pare used wax, cloth, cardboard, and parchment to make a cast, until the modern-day cast were created by the cumulative work of four military surgeons in the 1800’s. However, until then, bed rest and restricted activity were the standard healing protocol for a broken bone.
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The inception of casts to heal and not merely support a break happened only after the incidental discovery of a cast used on a French naval officer to protect a wound working to mend, having not been disturbed for a long time. Thus, it was established that a fracture could heal on its own with a cast if left undisturbed for an adequate amount of time.
What are casts and splints used for?
While the primary use of casts and splints is for fractured bones, these orthopedic devices have other usages as well. Casts and splints are used following orthopedic surgery and splints are used to help subside swelling on an injured area.
Casts offer more support and protection to the fractured or injured limb than splints and are thus more suitable for high-care injuries.
On the other hand, splints, also known as half-casts, are used for complex injuries that need frequent change of bandages due to their fast action and ease of use.
Casts and splints are also sometimes used in combination, depending on the nature and intensity of the injury. For such needs, cast may be used for a partial healing period, followed by splints, or vice-versa, depending on the swelling and recovery status of the fractured area.
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Types of Casts and Splints Commonly Used
Owing to its usage, casts are custom-made. The shape of the cast needs to fit on the injured limb correctly to provide maximum support.
On the other hand, splints are mostly readymade. These readymade splints are manufactured in several shapes and sizes, and are much faster and easier to use. However, if required, splints can also be custom-made if an exact fit is needed.
Materials Used in the Global Casting and Splinting (Equipment and Supplies) Market
Casts and splints are predominantly manufactured from fiberglass or plaster, which form the hard supporting layer to offer protection to the injured limb and keeps it immobilized. These materials form the basis of the global casting and splinting (supplies and equipment) market.
Fiberglass offers several advantages over plaster, making it one of the most used materials for the manufacture of casting and splinting (equipment and supplies). It is lightweight, durable, and more porous. Fiberglass facilitates X-ray tests to be performed on the broken limb during the healing process.
Plaster is cost-effective and more malleable than fiberglass, which makes it suitable for certain casting and splinting operations.
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