The Active Vacuum Socket System
A comfortable socket is critical for an amputee to lead a full and active lifestyle. If the socket doesn’t fit comfortably, it can affect the health and wellbeing of the residual limb. Active vacuum solutions for transtibial (and transfemoral) amputees provide the ultimate socket comfort. By means of a pump unit, a vacuum is created between the suspension sleeve and the liner by the air being actively pumped out of the socket during an amputees' natural walking pattern. This vacuum makes for an unprecedented socket fit.
Studies have shown that active vacuum socket solutions prevent volume loss and minimise volume fluctuations in the residual limb throughout the day. The excellent connection between the prosthesis and the residual limb reduces tissue elongation and displacement, and thereby prevents limb/socket movements and improves proprioception. Furthermore, Studies carried out at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota (USA) have shown that a prosthetic fitting using this active vacuum solution promotes blood circulation in the residual limb.
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The benefits of Active Vacuum
Movement within the socket can lead to sores and abrasions. With active vacuum solutions, the residual limb is secured comfortably and intimately within the socket.
This ultimate socket fit reduces sheer forces, meaning the skin is protected, minimising the risk of skin damage.
For many amputees, ensuring the correct foot placement in every step and knowing the relative position of their prosthesis is critical in avoiding stumbles and falls. Active vacuum solutions enhance proprioception by allowing the patient to feel each movement through reduced pistoning and movement inside the socket. The brain then integrates information from proprioception and from the vestibular system into an overall sense of body position, movement and acceleration.
The pressure of blood circulation can cause volume fluctuations in the residual limb. The extent of the fluctuation depends on different factors such as the condition of the connective tissue, age of the patient, vascular diseases and of course, the type and fit of the socket. Active vacuum solutions keep the pressure constant and therefore maintain the volume of the residual limb, whereas simple one-way valves only release the amount of air the residual limb can press out. Although the suction created in this way provides a sufficient connection, it cannot prevent volume fluctuations in the residual limb. Even pin lock systems cannot prevent volume fluctuations. The connection is ensured as the prosthesis is secured by the pin.