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Thermoplastic compostable splint for bone fractures



This innovative splint for immobilizing bone fractures is made of bio-based polylactic acid (PLA). It can be reshaped repeatedly as swelling subsides, for example. After treatment, the splint can be composted.

thermoplastic In Germany, up to 1.5 million fractures need to be immobilized each year. There are likely two to four times as many mobilizations for other reasons not statistically recorded, such as infections, strains, and sprains. Conventional mobilization methods are usually uncomfortable, heavy, odorous, difficult to apply, and energy-intensive, and they cannot be reshaped later. Furthermore, they generate up to 150 metric tons of waste each year since they are not biodegradable.

Fraunhofer IAP in Potsdam-Golm developed the RECAST splints in collaboration with Nölle Kunststofftechnik GmbH. Scientists optimized the PLA plastic for splints, allowing it to be shaped and easily adapted to the body when heated to 55 to 65°C.

Read: Paw Pattroler

“The material had to meet a variety of requirements. It needed to be malleable for 30 seconds to three minutes at most, then harden and stabilize at body temperature. The polymer also needed to allow repeatable shape adjustment, explains Helmut Remde, head of the Processing Technology Center at Fraunhofer IAP. The researchers chose PLA as the base polymer, combined it with suitable fillers, and developed a formula that meets the requirements. Furthermore, they made sure that the material could be produced in quantities relevant to industry.

Another advantage of PLA is that it is biodegradable. Most common immobilizing solutions generate large amounts of plastic waste, which is incinerated and disposed of in landfills, whereas RECAST splints can be biodegraded in industrial composters.

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