You can have the most expensive, hi-tech, life-like limb, but if it is not comfortable you will not wear it.
The prosthetists at ProActive Prosthetics are experts in socket design and ‘comfort’ and believe in the importance of working with our patients to ensure the optimum fit is achieved. Diagnostic (clear) sockets are always made prior to the definitive sockets to establish good fit and correct weight-bearing. Hard-ware and cosmeses are only considered once a good socket fit is achieved. Patients are advised on the use of liners and wear of the limbs both at the time of fitting and through support available from the prosthetists between visits.
Most of our patients express significant improvement in comfort and fit once they have received a prosthesis from us.
The first step in the fitting process is the making of a cast of the residual limb, in order that the socket (part which joins on to your residual limb) can be made. This is done by wrapping the residual limb in plaster bandage – just like the ones used to make a plaster cast for a broken bone. When the plaster is set, it is removed. Plaster of paris is poured into the cast to make a replica of your residual limb.
The plaster replica of your limb is used to make a transparent socket using a thermoplastic material. The diagnostic socket enables the prosthetist to see ‘inside’ the prosthesis to check it is a good fit and that pressure, weight bearing and alignment are optimised.
To make the interface of the socket and residual limb a close and comfortable fit, an interface is typically worn; these are made out of silicone or gel and are rolled on a bit like a sock or stocking.
Once the prosthetist is satisfied that the diagnostic socket is a good fit, which may take more than one attempt, the definitive socket is made. It is made of a thermoplastic or composite material such as a carbon-fibre. The hardware incorporated into it connects to the mechanical part of the prosthesis. Most sockets that we fit today are held in place using suction, so no straps or belts are needed with the prosthesis.
Technology provides the functional part of the prosthesis is where, depending on level of limb loss, different components are incorporated to restore function and support. There are many different types of prosthetic technology available from simple mechanical joints to state of the art, microprocessor controlled, intelligent components. Our prosthetists can advise on the most suitable technology for you.