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Maintain a Better Socket Fit With Vacuum

Posted by Bryan Potok on

Loss of volume in your residual limb naturally happens as you go about your day. For most prosthetic users, maintaining an ideal socket fit requires adding another prosthetic sock ply at around 10 am or at noon. This can sometimes be a hassle, so the findings of a recent study published in Prosthetics and Orthotics International might be the answer you need for a better limb fluid management strategy.

 Study says elevated vacuum decreases overall volume loss.

Researchers compared the performance of suction suspension with elevated vacuum suspension. They studied the effect of both types of suspension in 12 transtibial electronic elevated vacuum users. The participants used the elevated vacuum in the first session and suction suspension in the second.

Both sessions required participants to complete 5.5 hours of multiple intervals of activity. A custom portable bioimpedance analyzer was used to measure the in-socket fluid volume in the residual limb continuously. This approach is a departure from previous studies which have shown inconsistent results due to the limitations of out-of-socket volume measurements and shorter, single-activity protocols.

The study found that although individual results varied, 11 of the participants experienced lower overall rates of volume loss in at least one limb region when the elevated vacuum suspension was used.

Furthermore, while the difference was not significant, the study found that the rate of posterior fluid volume change during Cycle 3 was significantly lower with the elevated vacuum.

The researchers concluded that elevated vacuum suspension might be more effective as part of a volume management strategy after the user was active for many hours. As for the individual variations seen in the participants, the researchers said that overall volume loss can still be managed by reducing socket vacuum pressure.

If you’re interested in improving your existing residual limb volume management strategy, consult your prosthetist about using an elevated vacuum suspension or management system, such as Ottobock’s Harmony Vacuum Management System.
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  • I would love to see a study that focuses on “ the why” of this problem. At the end of the day, this is no real solution. It is outrageous for people to go into public restrooms, disrobe, and adjust liners, and add socks. Especially in a pandemic.

    Mary Notrica on

  • I switched from pin lock to elevated vacuum about 3 years ago. I’m on my feet all day. I used to have to add socks for volume control 2 or even 3 times/day. Since I switched to vacuum, I no longer have to add socks for volume control. And I wear my leg from the time I get up at 6:30 AM to the time I go to bed around midnight. I’m a believer.

    Darryl Forbes on

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