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Managing Phantom Limb Pain
Learning to Walk with a Prosthetic Leg
Hanger Clinic believes that the key to being a successful prosthetic user is determined by the fit of the socket. The simple truth is this: If the socket is uncomfortable, the person is not going to wear their prosthesis.
For the upper extremity user, a sophisticated terminal device or elbow system will not make any difference if the person doesn’t even want to put their prosthesis on. And it is the same for lower extremity users. The most advanced foot or knee components are of no value if the prosthesis is left in a closet while the person gets around on crutches or in a wheelchair. As the connecting point between the person’s body and the prosthesis, a comfortable and secure socket is a necessity.
The technology provides advances to all levels: above-knee, below-knee, hip disarticulation, hemi-pelvectomy, below-elbow and above-elbow. Today many amputees are able to run, jump, dance, bicycle and participate in sports and recreational activities that were previously thought to be beyond their reach. Many are also able to return to the work force wearing a more comfortable and better fitting prosthesis for up to 10 to 14 hours a day.Over and over our patients tell us that the most important part of their prosthesis is their anatomically contoured ComfortFlex™ Socket. That's because the socket is the connecting point between the body and the prosthesis. "The socket is the most important part of any prosthetic limb, if the socket doesn't match the residual limbs anatomy exactly, problems can occur. With the ComfortFlex™ Socket system, channels are introduced to accommodate muscle growth, vascular areas and bones," says Kevin Carroll, C.P., vice-president of prosthetics for Hanger Clinic and co-developer of the patented Hanger ComfortFlex™ Socket System.Each month, Hanger Clinic prosthetists attend an intensive socket training course thus making the socket design that revolutionized above-knee prosthetics now available at centers across the U.S. This technology - originally designed to meet the rigorous demands of high active patients and amputee athletes - offers tremendous benefits to the older adult amputee as well. Allowing for more range of motion and comfort while standing or sitting.
After decades of researching and developing socket designs for upper and lower extremity users, our clinicians have learned that the best designs come about by simply observing nature. Through direct observation of both deep tissue and surface anatomy, many hours of study in cadaver labs, and computerized gait and balance analysis, our upper and lower extremity specialists have learned to discount preconceived ideas and start from a clean slate using anatomical structures as our guide.Hanger ComfortFlex™ Sockets are anatomically contoured to accommodate the bone, muscle, vascular, tendon and nerve structures of the person’s residual limb. They are fabricated from soft, flexible plastics that allow the muscles to expand and contract naturally, developing greater muscle tone and leading to improved control of the prosthesis. For lower extremity, the contoured design works with the individual’s anatomy to properly transmit weight bearing through the prosthesis to the ground. For upper extremity, both suspension and range of motion are improved, and myoelectric users benefit tremendously from the total contact of the anatomically contoured socket with the residual limb.In both appearance and function, ComfortFlex™ Sockets are markedly different than other socket designs. People are generally able to be more active in sports and recreation, and also in day-to-day activities like walking, working or driving a car. Most find they can comfortably wear their prosthesis for extended periods of time. While young, active people love this socket; older adult users will enjoy just as many benefits, and perhaps more. Statistics indicate that more than two-thirds of the people who will have a lower extremity amputation this year are over the age of 50. A comfortable, anatomically contoured socket is just as important to a person in his or her 70s as it is to a teenager.
For above-knee users, the suspension requirements for a prosthesis are often more demanding. Therefore, the ComfortFlex™ Socket for above-knee users reaches high around the pelvic bone, containing as much of the soft tissue, femur, ischium and ramus bones as possible. This fit results in the socket being firmly “locked” on to the residual limb, giving the user much greater control and comfort. The design actually unites two separate components. The first is a thin, flexible inner socket fabricated from plastic and silicone materials. The second is a supportive outer frame reinforced with carbon fiber composite. Users report that the increased stability of this socket gives them a steadier gait when walking or running. When they sit down, the posterior brim of the socket is completely flexible, yielding under the weight of the limb without pinching or pressing the soft tissue.This scientific fitting approach is being applied to higher levels of amputation such as hip disarticulation and transpelvic. Anatomical contouring to accommodate bone, muscle, vascular, tendon and nerve areas makes great sense for every level of amputation. The ComfortFlex™ Socket System has allowed some hip disarticulation and transpelvic amputees to become involved in areas of work and play that they previously thought weren’t possible. Hanger’s lower extremity team has extensive experience working with complex cases including hip-disarticulation and transpelvic amputations, bilateral amputees, and those who face unique challenges with their residual limbs.
Interested in the ComfortFlex™ Socket System? Call 1-877-4HANGER to find the closest Hanger Clinic location specializing in ComfortFlex.