A Study of Residual Limb Health
While prosthetic technology edges ever closer to restoring natural performance, there is also a more basic consideration – the residuum-socket interface. Even with the world’s most advanced prosthetic limb, if it is not comfortable to wear and walk with, amputees will not use it. Socket fit and comfort are inextricably linked to residual limb health, making this a critical element in achieving and maintaining a successful prosthetic prescription.
Biomechanically, the residuum – socket interface behaves as an extra joint in the lower limb. With excessive movement, a loose joint can lead to wear (e.g. chafing and rubbing) and a loss of control.
This is the method through which the socket is secured to the residual limb. A strong connection reduces relative movement of the limb inside the socket and thereby improves prosthetic attachment.
Loading & Wound Care
The skin and soft tissue of the residual limb are particularly susceptible to damage and breakdown. Scarring from the amputation surgery may complicate prosthetic fitting with adhesions or areas of invagination.
Temperature and humidity can directly influence not only the mechanical behaviour of the interface (e.g. sweat acting as a lubricant), but also the health of the skin and soft tissue of the residual limb.
By considering the impact of different prosthetic technology on suspension, temperature, humidity and interface loads, engineers can help protect the residual limb against further health problems.
A recent publication described how these technologies can be used, individually and in combination, to help to resolve long-standing residual limb health issues.