Healing and having fun with 3D printed water-safe cast

Posted at 10:42 AM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-05 11:42:55-04

Spending time in the water is a part of the holiday celebration for many of us. But wearing a cast can put a damper on those plans. Now one woman has developed a way to help people heal and have fun.

Summer in the sprinklers almost didn't happen for Duncan Graham. An adventure in his living room landed his arm in a cast.

"I broke it about right here and I broke both bones," Graham says.

That meant one of his favorite summer pastimes, swimming, and water in general were off limits.

"Knowing too that grandma and grandpa have a pool we were not very excited about summer with the cast," says Duncan's mom Angela Graham.

But Graham found another option. A 3D printed cast that brought back his summer.

"Plastic is waterproof and the other cast material is not waterproof," Graham says.

Diana Hall, a chemical engineer, is the developer of ActivArmor; 3D casts and splints that are water-safe, unlike traditional casts.

"Traditional casts you know they're stuffy and there's no breathability to them," Hall says.

Hall got the idea after working with children who struggled to keep their traditional casts clean and dry, leading to other issues.

"I knew that there was a better solution," Hall says. "I mean the knowledge was there so I wondered why it wasn't available to the general public."

She launched her own business and brought ActivArmor to the marketplace. Patients get a 3D scan of their injury and days later a customized cast that fits them perfectly.

"It's night and day, it is a much better experience," says Kevin Kielbach who broke his wrist. "Much more freedom in life."

Right now Hall is the company's only employee, and says balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood isn't always easy.

"It's nerve-racking every day," Hall says. "And you know people asked me if I ever have second thoughts about what I'm doing and I said yeah every day. You know? But it's worth it!"

Especially on days when her work is not only helping restore an arm, but a summer.

Hall is based in Colorado but is planning to expand nationwide this year. She says ActivArmor is covered by most insurance plans and costs the same as a traditional cast.