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Simpler, cheaper way to make and fit prosthetics developed

. Engsberg and his team developed a simpler, less expensive alternative using a gel instead of plaster to make the stump mold. In this process, the stump is placed in a pail with water and alginate powder, and the powder turns into a jello-like substance in about five minutes. The gel contours to the shape of the stump and produces an exact mold. Plaster is still used to fill the mold and create a model of the stump.

To test this alternative, the team made two sockets for each of the 10 leg amputees. One socket was made with the traditional plaster mold method; the other was made with the alginate gel. The two processes also differed in a second important way: The traditional method required production of up to three test sockets, whereas the gel sockets did not undergo any adjustments or additional fittings.

Using several measurements of walking performance and quality of life, the team found no differences in the success of the two types of sockets. And, when asked to choose which socket they wanted to keep, five chose the one made with the gel process, four chose the traditional socket and one person chose to keep both.

"Our data suggest that the gel process produces sockets that fit at least as well as those made in the traditional way," Engsberg says. "In this preliminary study, we've shown that it's possible to make a socket without any modifications, using a process that's easy enough to be performed by a technician instead of a specialized prosthetist."


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Contact: Gila Z. Reckess
reckessg@msnotes.wustl.edu
314-286-0109
Washington University School of Medicine
25-Oct-2003


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