Veterans Affairs

Prosthetic sock management tool

Helps amputees learn a routine for using socks, which minimizes the risk of skin breakdown and creates a better prosthetic fit

Medical & Biotechnology

The Department of Veterans Affairs has invented a novel tool for recent lower limb amputees, who often have variability in the volume and contour of the residual limb. Businesses can license the patent-pending invention for manufacturing and sales.

Air Force veteran Delvin McMillian puts on a sock before attaching his prosthetic legs after a quad rugby game. (Jocelyn A Guthrie/Air Force)

Users of a prosthetic limb may manage the changes in the fit and comfort of their prosthetic socket due to this variability by putting on and taking off prosthetic socks of varying thickness throughout the day.

But managing the use of socks can be difficult for a recent amputee, and there are many new routines to become accustomed to following the amputation of a limb. Too few socks or too many socks can both cause increased pressure on the distal end of the residual limb, making it hard to distinguish when to add or remove socks.

Incorrect use of socks can lead to skin breakdown and serious complications that can result from a nonhealing wound.

It would be beneficial to have a system to manage these variables and instructions explaining how to decide when to apply or remove prosthetic socks, how to care for the socks, and how often to check their socket for fit and comfort.

To address these issues, the VA has developed and patented a Prosthetic Sock Management Tool (PSMT) comprised of:

  • a multiple-zippered bag of three connected, machine washable, quick-dry pouches for sock storage which¬† separates socks of different ply
  • an easy to use infographic that instructs on both correct sock usage and care
  • an instructional video available both in the clinic and via the internet
  • reminders for three times daily comfort and fit checks

Prototype design with sample 3-ply sock. (VA photo)

The PSMT is to be used by prosthetists to help educate their patients on the proper use of prosthetic socks following a lower limb amputation and then by the patients as they manage their use of prosthetic socks.

This facilitates the maintenance of the health of the residual limb following amputation and will reduce the number of subsequent clinic visits and enhance the quality of life for individuals with amputations.

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