Prosthetic Categories

An AI-Based Socket for Above-Knee Amputees

    Many individuals with above-knee limb loss find regular prosthetic sockets lacking. One factor is that regular sockets can develop pressure points due to uneven pressure distribution, leading to discomfort and skin breakdown. Even with padding and liners, these pressure points can persist and cause discomfort.

     Korean researchers recently developed an AI-based prosthetic socket for above-knee amputees.

    Recently, researchers from the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) developed a new type of prosthetic socket that uses AI technology to help alleviate pressure-related discomfort. The smart prosthetic socket is customizable and automatically fills with air when it detects any space within.

    This technology was developed by a team led by senior researcher Kang-ho Lee. The new device is designed to respond to up to 15% of changes in the residual limb’s volume, which can fluctuate due to various factors, such as changes in skin tissue condition, blood circulation, and nutritional status. By responding to these changes, the prosthetic socket helps to relieve pain by evenly distributing pressure while minimizing movement.

    The AI-based technology also enables users and their healthcare team to monitor gait stability in real time through a smartphone app connected to the socket.

    Although adjustable prosthetic sockets are already available on the market, these allow the user to change the socket size using a dial, which doesn’t respond to residual limb volume changes in real time. In contrast, the KIMM’s AI-powered prosthetic socket allows the user to control the amount of air injected and discharged in the socket by choosing either automatic or manual mode.

    Because the AI-powered prosthetic socket can continuously measure the user’s gait, it reduces any stress on the residual limb. In addition, the smart prosthetic socket adapts in real time to the walking environment, such as inclines, flat ground, stairs, and changes in walking speed. This reduces the fatigue experienced by the prosthetic user while walking.

    As of this writing, the AI-based prosthetic socket isn’t available commercially yet. The researchers would need to conduct a commercialization follow-up study. In a statement, Lee expressed hope that this technology would further enhance domestic technologies for rehabilitation medical devices and improve prosthetic users’ quality of life.

    This development of an AI-based prosthetic socket is a significant step forward in prosthetics and a remarkable example of how AI can enhance medical devices’ functionality.