A study published in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics in January 2021 sought to determine whether a sensor or a human could detect changes in prosthetic socket fit before they happen.
The research team tested this on study participants with below-knee amputations. First, they had the participants walk on a treadmill while wearing a motor-driven, cabled-panel adjustable prosthetic socket. Then the researchers gradually adjusted the socket volume away from the neutral socket volume.
The team compared the percentage of socket volume change as evaluated by a prosthetist through visual assessment against the sensor's measurements and predictions.
The researchers found that the median socket volume increase detected by the sensor (0.50%) was significantly less than the prosthetist's (1.69%) and the participant's (2.30%). At the point when a participant detects a volume increase is when they usually add a prosthetic sock to maintain a snug fit.
When the researchers reduced the socket's size, the prosthetist successfully noted a change in the fit before the participants would typically remove a sock in only two out of ten participants. Meanwhile, the sensor detected the socket volume reduction while at a significantly smaller value (-0.44%). For context, most of the participants would typically remove a sock at -2.76%.
This study shows that the sensor could accurately detect changes in the prosthetic socket fit way before the prosthetist did. They also concluded that using a sensor that can detect volume changes even before they manifest may be helpful towards post-amputation rehabilitation.
The next step for the research team is to determine if the sensor can detect unforced changes in the socket fit and in the prosthesis user's typical environment.What do you think of the findings?