Orthopedic casts were first developed in the 1850s, but their aesthetics didn’t change much for 160 years. Fiberglass replaced plaster in the 1970s, waterproofing arrived in the ’90s, but ugliness remained consistent. A company called Castoo believes a fractured wrist shouldn’t be an eyesore, and is breaking into the medical market with high-end design for the disabled.
The unlucky no longer need to rely on friends with Sharpies to decorate casts — they can tattoo their fiberglass forearms with cartoon characters, fluorescent pink tiger stripes, or most impressively, custom X-ray images.
The process is simple, which is a critical requirement when working with a busted wing. A digital file of an X-ray is sent to Castoo and a customized sticker is returned. The X-ray image is placed on the cast and heated with a hairdryer until it “melts” onto the cast, securing bragging rights until the bone mends.
The company got started when Colorado-based designer Jessica Smith broke her wrist. For eight weeks she struggled with limited dexterity, but more importantly, an ugly impediment on her arm. She knew she could do better than the monochrome wraps that were available to her, and set to work developing her patent-pending solution. Version one was hand-painted, but Smith wanted to find a more scalable solution.
“The power of positive energy is something that is becoming more and more prominent and recognized in the medical field as having a dramatic and incredible effect on the body,” she writes on her website. “It is this principle that has forever been the driving force behind Castoo’s creation and motto, ‘Happy Healing.’”
This isn’t just an aspirational sales claim either — after a landmark study in 1984 showed that patients recovering from surgery in a room with a view of nature healed faster, hundreds of studies have shown some benefit between aesthetics and healing. A tribal design on a femur cast might not redefine medical science, but it can’t hurt.