Health Beat: New cast for broken bones

Health Beat: New cast for broken bones

Almost seven million of us will be rushed to the emergency room for a broken bone at some point in our lives.   

Broken bones usually result in casts, which are annoying to many. Now, there might be a new option.

You know the feeling, first the pain of breaking a bone, then weeks, or maybe even months, of having to deal with a cast that's probably clunky, itchy, stinky, and can't get wet.  That, however, could soon be a thing of the past.

Dr. Eric Stuffmann, an orthopedic surgeon at Douglas J. Abeles MD and Associates, said he, himself, has broken bones not once, but twice. 

"First time was roller skates, and I just slipped backward, landed under my wrist.  Second time was monkey bars," said Stuffmann.

Stuffman is no exception, but he is part of a new solution, using the Exos brace, instead of a cast to help heal broken bones. The brace needs to be fitted and molded.

"I was coming down hill and took an edge wrong and landed backwards on the backside of my hand," said Manali Shah, who broke her wrist snowboarding.

From the downhill to the doctor's office, Shah is one of the first to get the custom cast.  It's made out of three layers of high-tech polymers and foam that create a lightweight, adjustable, extremely strong brace.

Unlike traditional plaster and fiberglass casts, this one can be removed daily and is waterproof.

Shah had a traditional cast first, then changed to the Exos.

"It was great, because I could finally take it off to get a shower. I didn't have to put a bag over my hand; and it just breathes really well," said Shah, who is now looking forward to tackling the mountain once again.  Her goal is to make it down a blue without falling.

Stuffman said he uses the new cast for most breaks. The only time he doesn't use it is when he thinks the patient will not keep it on long enough during the day.

The new casts are being used more and more across the country. They cost the same as traditional casts, and insurance will most often cover the cost.

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Allentown, PA 18102


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