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College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) develops instant splint for injured limbs

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The Times of India | Swati Shinde Gole | TNN |  Feb 10, 2017 |

Representational Image

Representational Image

PUNE: The College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP), has developed a patented hybrid orthopaedic splint that can be used as an instant plaster on fractured limb to ensure the broken bone stays in normal position and avoid propagation of crack.  Extremely light in weight, the splint can be carried in a first aid kit for emergencies. One just has to dip it in water, squeeze and apply it on injured hand. The splint is made with a combination of plaster of Paris and paper pulp. It remains hard on hand for more than 24 hours after application. The splint should be used only as a preventive action. It can prove handy in schools as well as rural areas because reaching hospitals in case of an injury takes some time from there.  After securing patent for the splint, the CoEP team is conducting field trials. Mayur Sanas, the researcher working on the project, said the samples of the splints are being distributed to primary health centres and hospitals in the city for trials.

“We are trying to set up a manufacturing unit at CoEP for mass production,” said Sanas.  The CoEP has a satellite centre of Biomedical Engineering and Technology incubation Centre (BETiC) set up by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. It is supported by the state and Union governments. Compared to the fiberglass splints used at present, the hybrid design is lighter. Yet, it provides the optimal bending stiffness. At present, the prototype version costs close to Rs 120 per splint. The researchers at CoEP believe the cost would come down with mass production.  Arati Mulay, co-investigator of the project, said, “The best part of this preventive tool is it is user-friendly and involves just three simple steps for usage. When a child falls and injures his/her hand and develops fracture in a school, the institution calls the child’s parents and wait for further action till they arrive. If school authorities wrap this splint instantly around the injured hand or leg in such cases, the limb would be immobilised in less time.”

The traditional method of applying plaster splint involves wrapping cotton around wet plaster splint and allowing it to solidify in open air. Bandages are applied over the splint to fix it at the proper position. Often, the two layers of cotton get mixed, making it difficult to remove the splint after the treatment is over. Plaster splint with cotton padding are heavy, less durable and have poor strength to weight ratio. Fibreglass splint overcomes these drawbacks, but is expensive.   Ashish Ranade, an orthopaedic surgeon of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said, “This (hybrid splint) can be treated as an excellent first aid tool because it can be used instantly and for temporary stabilisation at the scene of accident on the fractured hand or leg.” Ranade said when there is a fracture, the pain is excruciating. “At present, no instant aid to fractured bones is available. In such a scenario, this splint will come in handy, but only as a preventive action.” At Columbia Asia, the orthopaedic department has received great feedback on the usage of the innovative splint. Orthopaedic surgeon Silukumar Bhaskaran said, “In normal procedure, plastering the fractured area is cumbersome. But this splint fits to the shape quicker. In the normal plastering process, the calcium keeps oozing out and there is a loss of material used. But in this case, it is not so. It is a good innovation and we have started using it.” –  Courtesy

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