Liners with sensors could reduce pain for lower limb amputees

Researchers at the University of Southampton, England, are developing intelligent prosthetic liners that may relieve pain that results from poorly fitting sockets. 

“Socket fit is the single biggest factor determining whether prosthesis will be successful for a patient,” Liudi Jiang, PhD, creator of the device, stated in a press release. “If we had a way to accurately measure the load at the socket stump interface and determine the best possible fit for that limb, it would completely transform the experience for amputees.”

Excess pressure tends to build up within the socket of a poorly fit limb, and causes discomfort, tissue damage and ulceration at the socket interface. The liners, integrated with pressure sensors, can measure the pulling forces at the interface between a patient’s residual limb and the prosthetic socket, allowing clinicians to quickly asses socket fit at initial fitting.

The wireless interface also will monitor changes over time, and alert users to adjust their socket or activities to prevent ulcers from forming. The device is expected to substantially reduce patient follow-up visits and health care costs, and could be available to NHS patients within 3 years.

“We’re hoping the development of the intelligent liner will be the first step leading to the ‘holy grail’ in prosthetics, a fully automatic, self-adjusting smart socket interface for amputees,” Jiang stated in the release.

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