Most lower-limb prosthetic users agree that poor socket fit caused by constant fluctuations in the size of their residual limbs is among their top three common prosthetic issues. Moreover, poor socket fit is the leading cause of most prosthetic related skin problems, such as chafing.
Existing solutions to this problem often involve adding or removing prosthetic sock plies. Still, not everyone can successfully implement sock management techniques. This is especially true for those who are new to the amputee life and people who experience significant changes in the volume of the residual limb daily.
To address this significant unmet need, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) developed a prosthetic socket fit sensor that identifies pressure points within a socket. As of this writing, the technology is patented and is available via patent license agreement to prosthetic companies that would make or sell the device commercially.
According to TechLink, the low-cost device design incorporates a self-contained sensor assembly. It can fit along the bottom end of a socket and can even replace the existing limb attachment mechanism. When worn, the sensor produces a signal in response to real-time changes in pressure. The sensors are intended to monitor the quality of fit between the prosthetic socket and the user.
The prosthetic socket fit sensor also includes an accelerometer, which produces an output indicative of the user’s type of movement and then provides much-needed context to the recorded pressure data.
The device is designed to be user-friendly and easy for prosthetists to build into a prosthetic socket. It is an excellent self-management tool for everyone who wants to maintain a good socket fit. It also works as an educational tool for those who are new to amputee life.Is maintaining a proper socket fit an ongoing struggle for you? Would you be willing to wear a sensor that gives you real-time data on your prosthetic socket fit? Please share your thoughts and experiences with the rest of the community in the comments section below.