Prosthetic Socket Design for Developing Countries

In Sierra Leone, the civil war from 1991-2002 left over 27,000 victims with amputated limbs. The impoverished circumstances of the people in Sierra Leone make it difficult for them to obtain much needed prosthetics. Engage Now Africa, a humanitarian non-profit organization, saw the opportunity to make a difference for amputees in Sierra Leone by working with Brigham Young University engineering students to design an affordable prosthetic for those who need it. The Shipp Family Fund has graciously funded our project with Jennifer Hogge Ellsworth acting as our liaison for Engage Now Africa.

For a socket to be functional it has to be custom fitted, durable, affordable, adjustable and comfortable for the amputee.  Due to varying changes to the volume of the residual limb, it must be adjusted for comfort and function. The socket should not hurt the user and should also work with other existing Red Cross prosthetic components. To solve this problem, we incorporated a baseplate, strut design with straps, and a silicone liner. The baseplate is made out of aluminum so it is strong and lightweight. The polypropylene struts are lightweight as well and provide a strong, structural support for the residual limb. The silicone liner adds comfort for the patient and friction between the limb and socket to stay on during use. The straps are for adjustability for the changes in residual limb size throughout the day.

Jarem Frye, an amputee who volunteered to test our design, commented that the socket is more comfortable than some of his earlier, first-world sockets. The fact that he walked around with ease using the socket further proves that the design is functional. His ability to tighten the socket at will to fit him comfortably also proves that the socket is adjustable and won’t fall off during use. The results of our prosthetic socket design will have far reaching impact and implication. In a country where there are 27,000 amputees, many of which cannot afford a prosthetic socket necessary for a prosthetic limb, the prospect of having a prosthetic socket that they can afford to purchase and maintain on their own is exciting. Many people who could not afford a socket will now be able to, and will improve their lives by allowing them prosthetic limbs that increase mobility. Individuals in developing countries all over the world would be able to benefit from this design. This could change the way that prosthetics are used all over the world.

School Year (term): 
Shipp Family Fund
Team Name: 
Step Forward
Mark Colton
Team Members: 
Tim Dobbert, James Evans, Colton Graham, Sean Larson, Nolan LeSueur, Zac Lichtenberg

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