Prosthetic Socket & Suspension Systems
The most high-tech componentry available is not going to make any difference if the most important part of the prosthesis, the socket. The job of the socket is to support body weight and hold the residual limb firmly in the prosthesis. If the socket is not firm against the residual limb, movement occurs, causing pain, sores and blisters, and resulting in compromised mobility.
Properly fitting and fabricating a socket requires knowledge of how a technical mechanism interacts with the human body. Sciences such as anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, and kinesiology play a major role in a practitioner’s education and training.
Prosthetic Socket Fit
At Leimkuehler, we understand how important it is for our amputee patients to receive a good socket fit. It’s not one size fits all. In fact, fitting a socket is a combination of knowledge and experience, mechanical skills, and art to provide the best possible outcome.
Since every residual limb is unique to the patient, each socket will have its own design and fit to provide comfort and functionality.
Creating a socket involves two major elements — the design and shape of the socket itself and the methods by which the socket remains in place on the residual limb, known as suspension. Suspension can be achieved in several ways.
Locking suspension utilizes a pin attached at the end of a liner. The pin connects to a shuttle lock built into the bottom of the socket. An above-knee prosthesis may use a lanyard system, which consists of a strap or braided string to pull the liner into the socket.
Suction suspension is achieved either by total contact with the socket wall or with a roll-on suspension liner. The prosthetic limb fits snugly onto the residual limb, and an airtight seal keeps it in place. The socket has a one-way valve to expel the air out of the socket, which creates negative pressure in the socket to attain suspension.
Anatomic suspension (or supracondylar) is when the contours of the socket capture and hold onto the contours of the patient’s body. The user wears a soft insert with a wedge that locks into the socket and keeps the prosthesis on the limb.
Vacuum suspension consists of a sleeve creating a seal around the top edge of the socket, then a pump and exhaust valve remove virtually all air between the socket and the liner.
The type of suspension will depend on the shape of your residual limb, your overall health, and your activity level. We will always discuss all your options thoroughly with you so you will understand what will work best for your needs.
Your socket should always provide comfort. If you have any pain, or notice redness or swelling, blistering, or bleeding, contact us immediately. It’s important that you keep us informed of any changes in your body weight, activity level, or changes in your health, all of which can affect the fit and function of your prosthesis.