A study was conducted to optimize the prosthetic socket by making the residual limb more evenly loaded within it. The research team found that modifying the socket based on the main load-bearing regions, pressure-tolerant regions, and pressure-sensitive regions significantly reduced the interface pressures and increased the subject’s walking distance.
To collect the data, the researchers divided the residual limb into the main load-bearing regions, pressure-tolerant regions, and pressure-sensitive regions according to the carrying capacity at each area. They developed a mathematical function to apply modifications/adjustments to the socket design with computer-aided design based on the regions. Three adjusted sockets were then produced for a participant using selective laser sintering 3D-printing technology.
For the participant, wearing the 3D-adjusted printed sockets reduced the contact interface pressures in the distal tibial region and the fibular head region by 85.6 percent and 84.4 percent, respectively. In addition, the subject’s walking distance increased by 18.34 percent, and the overall pressure distribution on the residual limb became more uniform.
The researchers concluded that pressures in the original overpressure regions and the pressure-sensitive regions could be reduced, whereas the pressure in the low-load regions of main load-bearing or pressure-tolerant regions could increase by modifying the socket with the pressure adjustment function.
The study, “Optimal design and 3D printing of prosthetic socket based on the interface pressure between the socket and residual limb,” was published in Prosthetics and Orthotics International.