Creating A 21st Century Prosthetic Socket

Creating A 21st Century Prosthetic Socket
13 Jun 2017

Transfemoral amputee John T., 45, presented with a seven-year-old, outdated prosthetic leg, which no longer fit or functioned properly.

prosthetic-socket-fabrication-texasLike many traumatic amputees, John maintains an active lifestyle and expects a lot from his replacement limb, including comfort, performance and endurance. For those expectations, an intimate socket fit is essential. John’s prosthetist recommended an all-new limb assembly and components featuring a rigid laminated socket with suction suspension, polycentric knee unit and dynamic response foot.

The process began with a CAD scan and digitizing of John’s residual limb contours, from which his prosthetist performed the initial socket assembly and subsequently produced a positive model in the exact shape of John’s remaining limb segment. Next, the mold was selectively modified to build up specific spots subject to focused weight bearing pressure and provide added protection for sensitive areas.

A check socket to evaluate the efficacy of the assembly and modifications was then created from a sheet of clear thermoplastic heated to 425 degrees F., draped over the mold, allowed to cool under vacuum, and trimmed.

This diagnostic form allowed his prosthetist to observe John’s residual limb within the socket environment and evaluate the intimacy of fit. After minor resulting adjustments to the mold, the process advanced to fabricating the definitive socket.

John’s socket began with layers of carbon fiber and fiberglass fabric chosen by the prosthetist to achieve desired strength and rigidity. These reinforcing materials were placed one by one over the rectified positive model and saturated with a thin coat of resin.

Check-socket-prosthetic-fabricationWhen all prescribed layers were added, this “lay-up” was placed under vacuum, and a catalyst-pigment mixture was introduced via a funnel at the top of the outer bag.

The resulting chemical reaction hardened the lamination, which when cooled was removed from the mold, trimmed and smoothed. Voilà: Finished socket!

Once the soundness and fit of the socket were confirmed, John’s new leg was completed with attachment of the remaining prescribed componentry: knee, pylon, foot and ultimately a cosmetic cover.

Outcome: John is now able to work, play and “go” harder, longer and with more enjoyment of life. He readily credits his new socket fit and the effort and technology that went into it.

If you would like us to create a 21st century prosthetic for you, please call us today for your complimentary consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Texas in the cities of Beaumont, Nederland and Jasper.


LeTourneau Prosthetics