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What Prosthetists Think About Adjustable-Volume Prosthetic Sockets

    You might have found yourself on this page because you’re considering switching to an adjustable volume prosthetic socket. Or maybe your prosthetist has a different opinion about these prosthetic sockets, and you wanted to see what other clinicians think. This article discusses a recently published study about adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets and what certified prosthetists think about them.

     Prosthetists were surveyed for their thoughts about adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets.

    Adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets, designed to address changes in residual limb volume, are not exactly new. However, more research needs to be conducted to validate their efficacy. So, researchers surveyed how various prosthetists perceive adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets, as well as their experiences fitting and adjusting them for patients. The study was published in October 2022 in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics.

    The study  

    The data was collected by distributing an online survey to certified prosthetists. Questions centered on whether the respondents fitted an adjustable-volume prosthetic socket for patients, the success rate of these fittings, and the challenges they faced.

    For the prosthetists who have yet to fit adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets, they were asked what barriers prevented them from doing so.

    A total of 195 eligible certified prosthetists responded, and 82% had experience fitting adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets. The most common prosthetic styles were the RevoFit by Click Medical, Socket-less by Martin Bionics, and Infinite Socket by LIM Innovations. The respondents reported varied success with the different prosthetic socket styles, with RevoFit being the most successful.

    When fitting adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets, the prosthetists noted the following challenges:

    • Increased bulk

    • Complicated fabrication

    • Poor cosmesis

    While some respondents felt that adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets were useful clinical tools, others reported common issues with cost or health insurance reimbursement. They also pointed out that adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets are appropriate only for a subset of individuals with limb loss.

    Furthermore, some respondents felt that these adjustable sockets were insufficient for clinical use or that improvements before use would be beneficial. 

    The bottom line  

    Unfortunately, prosthetists’ opinions are divided on the benefits and challenges of adjustable sockets. But in general, they feel that adjustable-volume prosthetic sockets can be one of the numerous tools to accommodate complicated fittings for lower-limb prostheses.

    The researchers noted that additional work must be done to develop best practice guidelines to help prosthetists adjust lower-limb sockets better.


    What do you think of the findings of this survey?