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    Spray Foam Cast Developed by USAMRDC Adopted for Rehabilitation Exoskeleton

    Spray Foam Cast Developed by USAMRDC Adopted for Rehabilitation Exoskeleton

    Photo By Paul Lagasse | Triton Systems’ prototype SUPORT Self Evacuation Splint being tested with a burdened...... read more read more

    FORT DETRICK, MD, UNITED STATES

    03.06.2024

    Story by Paul Lagasse 

    Medical Research and Development Command

    FORT DETRICK, Md – A method for rapidly splinting injured limbs developed with the assistance of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command is being incorporated into the next generation of exoskeletons that will someday help injured Warfighters regain their mobility and recover more quickly from their injuries.

    Traditional inflatable and rigid aluminum splints can be difficult to apply in the field, especially under the stress of combat, and often cause pain, swelling and additional injury as the medic adjusts the limb to fit into the splint. Likewise, casts made from plaster of Paris, glass fiber and rigid polyurethane are typically heavy, uncomfortable and difficult to keep clean. The FastCast spray foam splint, invented by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Martin and developed with support from MRDC’s Medical Technology Transfer Office, solves these problems.

    FastCast uses a fast-drying foam that can be sprayed directly onto a patient’s skin, even if the wound is exposed, forming a light, tough shell that can be easily removed once the patient has been safely transported to a hospital. Medics could even add antibiotics, analgesics, clotting agents and other therapeutics to the foam to help accelerate the healing process.

    “When I first saw FastCast, I immediately understood its potential,” says Dr. Quinton King, a licensing expert at TechLink, a nonprofit organization in Montana State University’s Office of Research and Economic Development who worked with MTT to find a commercial licensee for the product. “Instead of needing to carry around different types of splints for various body parts, the foam molds around any limb and, once it hardens, locks it in place. It’s a fantastic concept.”

    TechLink often works with MTT to help medical technology companies acquire the rights to develop and manufacture medical devices created by Army inventors such as Martin, who at the time was assigned to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss. Prior to approaching TechLink, MTT had worked with Martin to ensure the FastCast technology was mature and ready for licensing.

    Triton Systems, a company in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, that specializes in developing innovative medical, defense and environmental technologies, replied that they were interested in learning more about FastCast. The company obtained a commercial evaluation license agreement from MTT and grants from the federal Small Business Innovation Research program so that it could evaluate FastCast for use in an exoskeleton it is designing that immobilizes lower-leg fractures while also allowing patients to immediately return to duty following their injury. When Triton decided to proceed with developing the technology, Ron Marchessault, one of MTT’s experienced Licensing Officers, worked with Triton to license Martin’s FastCast patents.

    “FastCast is like a Swiss Army knife for all kinds of injuries that current splinting systems have difficulty with,” explains Duke Loke, an orthopedic engineer at Triton. “The first thing that stands out, obviously, is the speed of application. It also lowers the burden of training for medical care; rather than having to rely on experienced medical personnel to treat a musculoskeletal injury, you can rely on buddy care to apply it, or even apply it yourself, which frees up the medical personnel to deal with other serious injuries.”

    Triton’s exoskeleton, called the SUPORT Self Evacuation Splint, consists of a lightweight carbon-fiber orthosis, a sweat-wicking cuff and a small canister containing the FastCast foam. Once the cuff is wrapped around the injury, the canister nozzle is inserted into a hole in the cuff and triggered to simultaneously inflate the cuff’s three pockets with foam, quickly and safely immobilizing the injured limb. The splint can be broken down to fit in standard packs and can be used for injuries to the lower leg, ankle or foot. It is designed to bear the weight of a fully kitted Warfighter, allowing them to stay mobile and continue fighting or to evacuate themselves without the need for a multi-person litter.

    To evaluate the prototype SUPORT exoskeleton, Triton is leveraging its long-standing relationships with the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center in Chicago and the Defense Health Agency’s Extremity Trauma and Amputation Center of Excellence, or EACE, which is collocated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center and Naval Medical Center San Diego. EACE senior scientist Dr. Lee Childers and EACE research engineer Dr. Brett Johnson are conducting mechanical testing of the device and offer suggestions for improving the design, drawing on EACE’s extensive experience developing similar orthotic devices. The testing is being supported by a grant from the Military Operational Medicine Research Program with management support from the Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program.

    Childers says that FastCast’s rapid application and its ability to conform to injured limbs makes it stand out for use in orthopedic exoskeletons.

    “A member of our advisory panel who has treated these types of wounds in combat explained it to me this way: ‘You have to remember that the person who’s going to be using this is an 18-year-old Warfighter who’s scared to death, working in the dark, trying to take care of his friend who just got injured right in front of him,’” says Childers. “That’s why we’re trying to create a device that’s simple to learn and use, that works exactly the same way every time, on any limb.”

    Once the SUPORT prototype design has been refined and validated, Triton hopes to have a product ready for acquisition by the DOD within three years. Ultimately, Triton hopes to use its experience with the SUPORT prototype to develop a family of injury immobilization products that incorporate FastCast. As part of that effort, Triton brought FastCast’s inventor, Dr. Martin, aboard as a consultant following his retirement from the Army.

    TechLink’s King sees the adoption of FastCast for use in the SUPORT exoskeleton as a success story that demonstrates the value of MTT in helping to build what it calls a “bridge of hope” connecting inventors with the resources they need to develop their products to a level of maturity that attracts investment and commercial interest.

    “It's always about improving the lives of people,” says King. “That's the value of technology transfer within the DOD, because every dollar that they're spending is with the intent of delivering a solution that has a direct value to the Warfighter, to the public and back to the taxpayer.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.06.2024
    Date Posted: 03.06.2024 11:34
    Story ID: 465473
    Location: FORT DETRICK, MD, US

    Web Views: 323
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN