Biomedical Engineering Faculty Research


Design of a Novel Prosthetic Socket: Assessment of the Thermal Performance

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2015


Prosthetic liners and sockets insulate the residual limb, causing excessive sweating and concomitant skin maceration. When coupled with atypical loading conditions, further dermatologic problems can arise. This can significantly reduce the quality of life of an amputee patient. Improving the design of the prosthetic socket has been proposed as a means of reestablishing a normal thermal environment around the residual limb. In this study, a prosthetic socket was modified by incorporating a helical cooling channel within the socket wall using additive manufacturing techniques. Two sockets were modeled: a control socket, and a modified socket containing a 0.48 cm diameter cooling channel. Computer simulations and bench-top testing were used to assess the design׳s ability to create a greater temperature differential across the socket wall. A greater temperature drop across the socket wall suggested that the socket could provide cooling benefits to the residual limb by allowing for heat to be drawn away from the limb. The temperature difference across the socket wall was calculated for both sockets in each aspect of the study. Both socket type (p=0.002) and location on the socket (p=0.014) were statistically significant factors affecting the temperature difference between inner and outer socket walls. Compared with the control socket, the modified socket containing a helical cooling channel exhibited greater temperature differences across its wall of 11.1 °C and 6.4 °C in the computer simulations and bench-top testing, respectively. This finding suggested that socket modifications, such as the cooling channel presented, could provide a beneficial cooling effect to an amputee patient׳s residual limb.

Publication Title

Journal of Biomechanics





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