University alumni build brace of the future

By Wren Wheeling, Staff Writer

University alumni Ashley Moy and Jason Troutner  have developed an innovative brace design, called Cast21, that could put an end to problems caused by traditional orthopedic casts.

The exoskeleton’s design – which was inspired by chinese finger traps –  is meant to allow the limb to breathe while the bone heals. Because it is made of silicone, users can shower and swim freely without having to worry that the water will damage their brace.

Traditional casts are usually made from fiberglass material and completely encase the limb for a set amount of weeks, causing sweat and bacteria to build up underneath. The skin can become sensitive and vulnerable to infections, and the itches that come with it are impossible to scratch.

Troutner, who has been in many casts over the years, thought that the experience was intolerable and desired to change it. “He is very passionate about creating a better solution,” Moy said.

According to their website, the exoskeleton works by bracing the injured joint. First, a physician will slide the sleeve onto the affected area. After it is in place, they will inject the hollow silicone tubes with catalyst fluid to harden the material in a way that shapes the patient’s limb perfectly.

This design is lighter, more comfortable and more hygienic than the traditional plaster cast. Despite all of this, the Cast21 sleeve is expected to cost roughly the same price as the casts used today.

It all started in the Spring of 2015, when Moy and Troutner were seeking ideas for their senior design projects.

Moy thought that Troutner would be a valuable partner, and they soon began working together. Because Moy majored in biomedical engineering and Troutner majored in mechanical engineering, they decided to overlap their fields of study to design a medical device.

The idea for their waterproof, exoskeleton casts developed soon after.  

“We are looking forward to launching this project, which is scheduled to be done by the end of the year,” says Moy.
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In a previous version, The Daily Illini referred to Cast21’s design as a “cast,” when it should have been referred to as a brace or orthotic. The Daily Illini regrets this error.