Casts and splints haven’t changed much since they were first used to treat fractures: uncomfortable to wear, hard to shape, and incompatible with water.
Steve Ingel, president of the Bracing & Supports Division of San Diego-based DJOGlobalsays the Exos casts and splints solve all those problems, and look more stylish too. The product is made by Minnesota startup Exos Medical.
Exos casts and splints are made with a proprietary thermoforbable plastic – formed over heat – and can be molded right on the patient to ensure a custom fit. Under the partnership between Exos and DJO Global, the California company sells the the cast/splints meant for treating upper extremity fractures – for instance of the hand, thumb, arm and wrist.
What makes Exos casts innovative? Well, it’s reformable, waterproof and radio lucent, meaning the material doesn’t create muddy X-ray images.
The fact that the casts are reformable is a particular notable feature, Ingel says.
“The material is heat moldable and …if perhaps the clinician were to form it at the wrong angle or it’s not ideal, they can remove it, reheat it and reform it again,” Ingel said. “It eliminates a lot of waste that normally occurs with thermoformable or other formable products where you don’t have the ability to reform it. You have to throw it out and start over.”
The product is heated in 3 minutes and formed in another three to seven minutes. Ingel explained.
The Exos bracing system also has a closure system allowing people to open up the cast and scratch the skin if it were to itch, something that is impossible with the traditional plaster cast.
For kids, the closure system is lockable, so that they cannot as easily open it. The product is also waterproof such that even those who are injured and are healing can swim while wearing it, Ingel said. That is a marked contrast with regular casts. When plaster casts get wet, they must be sawed off and reapplied.
The Exos cast is also made of hypoallogenic material which is better for the skin that traditional options, where the covered portion, after a certain period of time begins to smell. In fact these casts, which come in different colors and designs for kids, are washable with soap and water.
For all the above reasons, Ingel said that those who have used this product – cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and covered by health insurance companies – have eliminated the “the need for revisits between the normal visits” to the clinician.
Ingel added that many people with fractures need to move from a bulky cast to a smaller splint as the injury heals. But with Exos patients can wear the same product from beginning to end of the healing period. Since the product was commercialized a few years ago, roughly 390,000 have been sold, mostly in the last 12 to 15 months, Ingel said. DJO Global announced the exclusive license with Exos Medical in September.
The feature benefits as well as the clinical outcomes is driving rapid sales, he added.
“All of us are seeing the challenges of healthcare economics,” Ingel said. ”We do believe that this product has a lot of healthcare economic benefits. Also, there really hasn’t been much in that space to treat these fractures other than fiber glass or plastic for the last 100 years. The success of this is better clinical care and better patient care.