Injured snow-sporters get flexible friend

Extreme sports fans could soon have instant medical treatment for broken limbs with the design of a unique, versatile portable plastic splint.

The First Aid Splint, incorporating essential medical treatment with convenience, is designed to protect and aid the recovery of damaged bones when a patient is injured in locations that are difficult to reach by medical teams, and could provide aid to the 45,000 victims of snow sport injuries that occur every year.

The splint applies stiffness and heat quickly to the limb using a gel created by a chemically-reactive metal strip and saturated sodium acetate solution.

It was devised as part of an international collaboration between Sheffield Hallam University and the Institut Superieur de Plasturgie d’Alencon (ISPA) in France, to explore the lightweight, pliable properties of plastic.

Industrial design students at Sheffield Hallam, Ching-Sui Kao, from Taiwan and Geremi Durand, from St Ettiene, France, joined engineering student Maxime Ducloux from the ISPA plastic centre of excellence to design the First Aid Splint.

It was conceived as part of February’s Design and Innovation in Plasturgy biennial competition to design an object with plastic as its main element.

The only UK representatives, Sheffield Hallam, scooped two of four prizes for the splint, including the Jury’s Grand prize, beating more than 40 submissions.