The temperature isn’t the only thing on the rise this time of year in Memphis; so are the number of people who end up in a cast.
“April through October is known as trauma season,” said Ashley S. Moy, co-founder of medical startup Cast21. “We see more breaks and traumatic injuries
during that time period.”
But a fractured wrist does not have to prevent people from cooling off in the pool this summer.
Cast21 is attempting to shake up the orthopedic industry with an innovation currently being piloted through the Regional One Health Center
“Patients can go swimming, enjoy the hot tub, and they can shower, which is nice in the Memphis summer heat,” Moy said.
The idea for a lightweight, customizable, breathable, waterproof option came from a conversation between two friends.
During their senior year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015, Moy and Jason Troutner were talking about unrealized health care innovations.
“When we discussed broken bones and casting,” Moy said, “Jason said, ‘Oh, let me tell you about casts.’”
Troutner, who still serves on the Cast21 board, has been in more than 60 casts due to multiple surgeries from a congenital heart disorder and sports-related injuries.
“The standard for immobilization has not been overhauled in centuries,” Moy said. “Doctors have been wrapping limbs since the 1800s. There was a little bit of innovation a few decades ago,
but no one has addressed the issues of the patient experience and efficiency in the 21st century.
“We saw that as a ripe opportunity for patients and providers to have a solution.”
The Cast21 orthotic Osteon Defender was developed in 2016 during the summer ZeroTo510 medical device accelerator program.
“The standard for immobilization has not been overhauled in centuries. Doctors have been wrapping limbs since the 1800s.
There was a little bit of innovation a few decades ago, but no one has addressed the issues of the patient experience and efficiency
in the 21st century.”
Ashley S. Moy, Cast21 co-founder
Now in its eighth year, Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s ZeroTo510 enables entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative medical devices to work with experts to bring their products to market, while building a successful business model.
“Some ask, ‘Do you bet on the jockey or the horse?’ And we try to bet on both,” said Brandon Wellford, CFO of the Bioworks Foundation, which created ZeroTo510 to help
grow the life sciences industry in the Memphis region.
The Osteon Defender has gone through more than 25 iterations to become what is being used by Regional One doctors and patients today.
Its lattice-structure exoskeleton braces the injured joint. A flexible, web-shaped sleeve turns rigid directly on the patient’s arm when injected with resin by a medical professional.
The next-generation cast also allows more dexterity and finger movement, which makes it more comfortable and easier for the wearer to drive, type or play video games, Moy said.
The first Osteon Defender was worn by a Regional One patient with a fractured wrist for six weeks this spring.
The patient gave the startup positive feedback, saying they did not know why anyone would hesitate before choosing a breathable, waterproof version over a traditional cast.
“As much as you try to plan for a launch, you still have to be careful when you are rolling it out to make sure it is going to work like you think it will and get acceptance from patients,” Wellford said.
“You have one shot at it, so you have to be careful. You get bad reviews and it can turn on you quickly in today’s world. That’s why you have to
approach it carefully and work out any kinks before you take it to market.”
The Regional One pilot program is Cast21’s first formal opportunity to get its product in front of doctors and patients. Since the Regional One cases are investigational,
there is no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
“Not many are willing to be the first penguin off the cliff,” Moy said. “The validation from the Regional One team and their dedication for innovation has been a
really great case study for us to be able to bring to other organizations.”
Feedback from doctors and patients who use a medical device is a critical step companies need before launching products on the market.
“Not many are willing to be the first penguin off the cliff. The validation from the Regional One team and their dedication for innovation has been a really great case study for us to be able to bring to other organizations.”
Ashley S. Moy, co-founder of medical startup Cast21
Many doctors and clinics have already contracted with Cast21 and will receive the product when it is launched later this year.
For those whose summer activities lead to a fractured wrist before then, they can try out the Osteon Defender at Regional One.
“Anybody would be able to go to Regional One Health and see if they are eligible for this product, even if they have been seen or treated somewhere else,” Moy said.
Moy would like the Osteon Defender to be covered under health insurance when it is launched, but that decision will ultimately be between the doctor, patient and insurance company.
“We’re very excited about seeing this new product come to market,” Wellford said. “They have been working hard for the past three years or more. We are very excited
for the team and what they have accomplished.”