The Importance of a Good Fitting Socket

The importance of a good fitting comfortable socket is paramount for an amputee to be mobile and have a quality of life. In July 2011 I had an above knee amputation of the left leg. At that time like most people, I had no knowledge of what types of sockets that are available. I believe now I am an expert on what works for me.

Shortly after my surgical pruning the Consultant sat on the bed and said “Malcolm, I think you need a challenge, do you fancy walking with me 100kms through Jordan to the ancient city of Petra?” Well the challenge was set. I had not been fitted with a prosthetic limb at this point. Moving on I was fitted with a standard National Heath Service socket and hydraulic limb. This socket was held on by a belt and a stump sock had to be worn. Roll on a couple of months and I am in Jordan with equipment not necessarily the best for the job ahead. As you can imagine the temperature was high and the distance to walk between 25-35 kilometres over all sorts of terrain. This little challenge would be a test for any prosthetic limb, however it made me realise that the socket was not the best fit. During the walk it was a daily task to manage the stump, placing dressing on sores, dealing with painful spots and the dreaded pistoning of the socket.

On returning to Britain I had my first consultation with David Hills at Dorset Orthopaedic at Ringwood. This is where I was fitted with a suction socket. The initial fitting of the socket onto the stump using the “parachute” to draw the stump into the socket was a little tricky. Now I laugh at what a mess I made of it, it is so quick and simple. The suction socket is a great fit on the stump with no pistoning which negates the dreaded sores and spots. The suction socket also does not need a belt to secure it to the user. Dorset Orthopaedic have made me several sockets each one has fitted perfectly and performed well. I have always used the limb on a daily basis, I get out of bed put the limb on and get on with life. Apart from showering or cycling, the limb is being used until I go to bed. As with anything, you have to maintain the socket and the stump. This is done by sanitising the socket and keeping the stump also clean and healthy. With Dorset Orthopaedic we have developed a socket for cycling. According to my cycling statistics I have cycled over 21,000 miles the limb. It is a bit like “Triggers broom” two sockets and four knees but it is the same leg. You look after your limb, the limb will look after you!

Dorset Orthopaedic in my opinion are world leaders in the fitting and production of comfortable durable sockets. These sockets are superb at connecting the user to the limb. Off to walk the dog now.

Malcolm Hingle