Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Amputee Interface

One lesson I have learned as an amputee is that no matter how great the technology in your prosthetic; be it a myoelectric hand, a microprocessor knee, or a bionic ankle, that tech is completely useless without a proper interface. In the case of amputees I'm talking the socket. For the uninitiated, the socket is the part of the prosthetic that the limb goes into. There are several different methods of attaching the socket to the body, but all of them have one thing in common; if it doesn't fit right it doesn't work. Currently, I have been waiting over 6 months for my socket. When it finally arrived and was put together it was 6 months and 30 pounds too late. It no longer fit. When I put it on my leg went straight to the bottom of the socket, appropriately called "bottoming out." This is when your residual femur makes contact with the bottom of the inside of the socket. This is pain that is difficult at best to describe. The best I can approximate the feeling is like the worst toothache you have ever experienced, only inside your femur.

What makes socket fittings so difficult is that they are entirely dependent on the patient's weight, activity level, and individual body chemistry (do they swell or do they shrink throughout the day). This means that you can't just run down to the local mega mart and pick one up. They have to be tailored to each individual. That is the frustration. If you gain weight or lose weight you have to start the process all over. Ask any amputee, we live and die by our sockets. Yes, we all long for the latest and greatest prosthetic, but we mourn the loss of a great socket.

A great example is the current bilateral below knee amputee on "Dancing with the Stars" Amy Purdy. Yes, she has some great prosthetic feet, but I'm more impressed with the fit of her sockets. They fit like they belong on her leg. They don't look like an awkward juxtaposition. They smoothly transition from her leg into her prosthetic. This is how a socket should fit. This is the goal every amputee who wears a prosthetic strives for. The technology is out, there are new sockets available. The trick is finding a prosthetist who is willing to learn new techniques.

As for me, I had to go to the prosthetic office again today and make yet another adjustment to my new socket. That leaves me in my ill fitting and painful socket for a few more days. While it is painful and I can't wait to get the new one; I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to try new tech and speak out on a problem that exists in every facet of amputee life. No matter what body part you no longer have, we all need the interface technology to catch up with that of our prosthetics.

FYI...For you lower limb amputees out there check out these sockets.

High Fidelity

Till next time..



  1. >>FYI...For you lower limb amputees out there check out these sockets

    Where? I'm curious.

  2. TamaraNW you can google these sockets or talk to your prosthetist. If your looking at the HiFi they have a website. The name of the company is Biodesigns.