Immobilising a broken bone immediately after an accident is an important step to prevent further injury. So Spanish researchers have developed a new type of fabric that can instantly go from flexible to stiff, without putting uncomfortable pressure on the patient's skin.
Called Varstiff, the material can be wrapped around or moulded to any part of a patient's body, and when all of the air is completely sucked out using an integrated hose, the fabric becomes as stiff as a plaster cast. It provides the necessary support to allow a bone to set and heal almost instantly, but it can also be repositioned and adjusted without the need for re-casting an injury.
Varstiff is expected to be available early next year for medical uses. Down the line, its creators expect it to be used in everything from adjustable car seats, to luggage, to athletic clothing.