A lightweight biodegradable material made from wood and biopolymers, originally developed to replace the plaster casts traditionally used in hospitals, has now also been discovered by the sports world. The Olympic sports world, at that. Splints and heaters made from the material will be in use by the Finnish team at the next upcoming in Tokyo and Beijing.
Called Woodcast, the material was invented back in 2008 by Finnish high-tech company Onbone and in 2010, the first product manufactured from the new material – Woodcast Splint – hit the Finnish market. The Woodcast product family has since expanded and continues to evolve meanwhile finding increasing application outside the hospital as well in various areas, including sports.
Injuries are a fact of life in sports. Although many can be treated on site with conventional supports of different kinds, these tend to be rigid, uncomfortable and not very eco-friendly. Woodcast is a mouldable and remouldable material that enables supports to be made that are comfortable to use and so thin that they even fit in shoes, for instance.
Non-toxic and eco-friendly, the material can be moulded without water or gloves, Moreover, it becomes self-adhesive when heated, which means that the material can easily be layered if added support or rigidity of the splint or cast. is required. Unlike conventional products of its kind, it is also allowed to get wet.
“Only a hairdryer or heat gun is needed to shape the splint so that it fits perfectly, and optimally supports the injured area or the area that needs support for some other reason,” explained Jimmy Takki, CEO of Onbone. “As splints made of Woodcast are light and compact, they can always be at hand for the medical team, no matter where in the world the team is competing or training. The material can also easily be removed or reshaped simply by warming it up again.”
Onbone has now also partnered with the Finnish Olympic Committee and its team of athletes, doctors, physiotherapists and coaches.