Using computational simulation to aid in the prediction of socket fit: A preliminary study
This study illustrates the use of computational analysis to predict prosthetic socket fit. A simple indentation test is performed by applying force to the residual limb of a trans-tibial amputee through an indenter until the subject perceives the onset of pain. Computational finite element (FE) analysis is then applied to evaluate the magnitude of pressure underlying the indenter that initiates pain (pain threshold pressure), and the pressure at the prosthetic socket-residual limb interface. The assessment of socket fit is examined by studying whether or not the socket-limb interface pressure exceeds the pain threshold pressure of the limb. Based on the computer-aided assessment, a new prosthetic socket is then fabricated and fitted to the amputee subject. Successful socket fit is achieved at the end of this process. The approach of using computational analysis to aid in assessing socket fit allows a more efficient evaluation and re-design of the socket even before the actual fabrication and fitting of the prosthetic socket. However, more thorough investigations are required before this approach can be widely used. A subsequent part of this paper discusses the limitations and suggests future research directions in this area.