New socket design could compensate current fitting issues

LAS VEGAS — Many current drawbacks in transfemoral socket fitting can be compensated with a new, advanced socket design, according to research presented at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly, here.

Matthew Wernke

Matthew Wernke, PhD, WillowWood research engineer discussed limitations in transfemoral socket fitting. These include heat, perspiration, intrusive ischial containment, lack of lubricants, limb movement and socket adaptability, and offset of the knee center for in-line vacuum pumps.

A new socket design, tested on 31 patients aged 27 years to 71 years, was able to improve upon these aspects, Wernke said. Patients in the trial had varying causes of amputation, limb length and previous socket systems.

The new socket offered improved function and comfort, a subischial design, phase change material to regulate temperature and perspiration, internal sealing and a side-mounted streamlined vacuum system.

Trial feedback was assessed with two response forms, completed 30 days apart. The first response form showed that 30% of users believed donning was easier compared with their previous system, which increased to 44% of users with the second form.

A total of 67% of users said the socket was more comfortable, improving to 70% with the second form. Overall sense of stability stood at 82% initially, and increased to 96% with the later form.

Nearly all participants said they would recommend the new socket system to other amputees.

“There are benefits with the phase change material and keeping the sockets cooler,” Wernke said. “There are benefits with security of the system and we are seeing positive changes in the limb, both in terms of circulation and tissue oxygenation … as well as skin health. We have had some great success fitting our test patients so far.”

Wernke said research and testing will continue on the new socket design, and more detailed outcomes will be available in the near future. — by Shawn M. Carter

For more information:

Wernke M. Advanced transfemoral socket system. Presented at: American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly; Sept. 4-7, 2014; Las Vegas.

Disclosure: Funding provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Limb health measurements aided by Ohio State University and WillowWood.

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