Limbs broken and too far from the nearest medic? Not to worry. A team from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK has developed a versatile portable plastic splint that can protect damaged bones and aid their recovery.
The First Aid Splint is designed to be used in isolated conditions which are difficult for medical teams to reach.
AdvertisementDevelopers hope it will be of particular use for those who are injured taking part in snow sports. It is estimated that 45,000 such injuries occur every year.
The splint, which has won an international design award, applies rigidity and heat quickly to the limb via a special gel created by a chemically reactive metal strip and saturated sodium acetate solution.
Paul Chamberlain, professor of design at Sheffield Hallam University said: "Plastic has surprising uses that are not currently being explored."
John Brewer, director of the Lucozade Sport Science Academy, said: "Rapid treatment of any injury is an essential part of the recovery process.
"Most traumatic injuries will cause internal bleeding and swelling, which will be exacerbated if the injured area is moved or left untreated.
"Therefore a splint of this nature should be a positive aid to the recovery and rehabilitation process, since it will quickly immobilise the injured area and prevent further trauma from occurring."
Brewer said winter sports were growing in popularity - and were a good way of encouraging exercise for the whole family.
"Any medical advances such as this splint which can make the sport safer has to be welcomed."
The splint was devised as part of an international collaboration between the Sheffield team and France's Institut Superieur de Plasturgie d'Alencon (ISPA) to explore the lightweight, pliable properties of plastic.
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