A range of elastomeric liners are available to people with transtibial amputations. However, little information is available about how prosthetists select the product best suited to each patient. To this end, a team of researchers set out to determine how prosthetists obtain information about liners, which features are most relevant to the selection process, and which products are used most for patients with transtibial amputations. Their results were published September 9 online before print in Prosthetics and Orthotics International.
A custom online survey was developed to solicit information about prosthetists’ liner selection practices. Prosthetists with experience managing patients with transtibial amputations were recruited via advertisements posted in magazines, at conferences, and on a listserv. Responses were analyzed to characterize prosthetists’ liner selection practices.
Data from 106 experienced prosthetists (mean age: 44.4 years, mean experience: 15.7 years) were included. Most prosthetists (94 percent) indicated they obtained liner information from manufacturer representatives, websites, or literature. On average, respondents factored nine different liner characteristics into their selection processes. Prosthetists reported experience with 16 unique liner products with their patients with transtibial amputations, but routinely used fewer than three.
The study concludes that tools or strategies to objectively compare prosthetic liners across manufacturers are likely needed to facilitate more diverse prescription practices. Additionally, knowledge of prosthetists’ prosthetic liner selection practices may guide development of evidence-based resources or tools to facilitate matching patients with appropriate liners. Results of the study may also inform researchers and manufacturers about desirable liner characteristics and direct development of novel liner products to address prosthetists’ clinical needs.