SUPRACONDYLAR SUSPENSION CUFF
The durability and adjustability of the supracondylar suspension cuff made it one of the most common forms of suspension (Fig 3). Made of leather, it provides comfort, acts as a kinesthetic reminder for some knee extension control, and is one of the easiest types of suspension to don. It attaches to the sides of the prosthetic socket providing suprapatellar purchase. Placement of these attachment points is critical for suspension throughout the full range of knee flexion. The strap encircling the thigh is not intended for suspension but to prevent the cuff from slipping off the proximal patella where primary suspension is achieved.2,12 It is suitable for a majority of patients but is not indicated for those with vascular compromise or knee instability because it can be constrictive proximal to the knee joint and provides little control in the coronal plane.
SHORT TRANSTIBIAL RESIDUAL LIMB LENGTH
Residual limbs, with less than 5 cm total length provide less area for force distribution, have a greater tendency to have contractures, and present difficulty in maintaining the residual limb in the socket.12 These limbs are fitted with a socket designed to increase the surface area on which to distribute pressures. This is achieved by raising the medial and lateral socket brim to incorporate the femoral condyles that provide a means for suspension. Supracondylar suspension also may be incorporated into the socket's soft insert by adding a wedge just proximal to the adductor tubercle. It may be a removable wedge in the case of a hard socket or the socket wall can be removed entirely for donning.5 The wedges are of firm rubber or foam and are located just proximal to the condyles where the medial to lateral dimension of the socket is smaller than the widest point of the femoral condyles, thus providing purchase over the femoral condyles. They are then keyed into the socket to provide a positive skeletal lock.
When control against recurvatum is indicated supracondylar and suprapatellar suspension encloses the patella in the socket and has a quadriceps bar just proximal to the patella. This bar serves as additional suspension and can limit knee extension. The patellar portion also increases medial to lateral stability because it prevents the brim from spreading open. One of the greatest benefits of either design is increased medial to lateral joint stability. Because the suspension is inherent to the socket there is no need for additional cuffs or straps that may compromise circulation. The high trimlines protrude while sitting which some patients find unacceptable. This suspension is not suited for a limb that is obese or muscular. If joint stability is not an issue, a gel or silicone liner can often times provide adequate protection against shear forces to the short residual limb.
LIMB VOLUME AND SHAPE FLUCTUATION
Waist belts often are used with temporary or intermediate prostheses, when patients undergo changing limb volume (Fig 4). They also are used as an auxiliary aid for higher levels of activity or for added comfort and security. Made of 2-inch cotton webbing the belt is fitted about the waist with an elastic strap extending distally to the supracondylar cuff of the prosthesis or an inverted Y strap. The elastic attachment strap can provide some knee extension assistance but does not provide uniform suspension throughout the swing phase. Patients may complain of discomfort when wearing a belt about the waist. Its nonrestrictive nature makes it useful for the patient with vascular compromise.
Thigh Corset With Joints
A thigh corset with joints is indicated for knee joint instability that cannot be controlled by the higher socket trimlines of the supracondylar socket. It is the most cumbersome of all transtibial suspension options and only should be considered when none of the other alternatives such as the supracondylar and suprapatellar socket or prosthetic alignment changes are able to control the knee. The corset is made of leather and is fastened snuggly around the thigh. Side bars with single axis joints connect the corset to the prosthesis and are contoured to fit closely over the femoral condyles for suspension. An auxiliary waist belt generally is required to prevent slipping.8,16 The extended lever arm of the corset distributes forces over a greater surface area and patients with jobs requiring considerable lifting and activity may benefit from the protection such a system offers. Thigh atrophy created by the corset is a disadvantage of this type of suspension.
STANDARD TRANSFEMORAL AMPUTATIONS
Suction suspension is one of the most frequently used forms of suspension for the definitive transfemoral prosthesis (Fig 5). Intrinsic to the socket, the patient is unencumbered by belts or straps allowing greater range of motion and a more cosmetic result. The prosthesis is suspended by surface tension, negative pressure, and muscle contraction.13 The direct skin fit reduces slipping and increases proprioception. To don the socket the patient either pulls into the socket with an elastic bandage or stockinet, or uses lotion to push into the socket. The one way expulsion valve then is inserted into the distal medial end of the socket to seal the socket thereby maintaining negative pressure. Given the precise nature of the fit, the patient must have sufficient strength and balance to don this socket correctly. Improper donning can result in painful tissue rolls between socket brim and pelvis. Auxiliary suspension belts may be added for increased activity or patient security. The intimate fit of the socket requires the patient to have stable body weight. A patient with a new amputation is a poor choice for this type of suspension given the presence of fluctuating edema and muscle atrophy. Scar tissue can be a contraindication given the associated high socket-skin interface friction. As with other intimate skin fitting systems, skin irritation can be avoided with good hygiene.
Roll on Silicone Liners
Roll on liners offer alternatives to hard socket suspension for those individuals who have difficulty donning a traditional suction socket. The silicone only suspension uses a silicone liner without locking pin to protect the limb from socket friction and make donning easier.7 After being rolled on, the outer surface of the liner is lubricated and pushed into the socket and sealed with the valve. A silicone locking liner works in a similar way but allows for volume fluctuation through the addition of prosthetic socks. Longer limbs may not allow sufficient space for the shuttle lock hardware and result in a knee center discrepancy. Rotational control when lacking can be corrected by the addition of a belt. Either of these techniques permits patients who are unable to use traditional hard socket suction to benefit.
A third, but less often used, option to hard socket suction is the hyperbaric sock. A 1-inch wide silicone ring impregnated around the proximal sock creates a seal between sock and socket. Generally placed 5 cm below the ischium, the lubricated ring is pushed into the socket with air being expelled through a one way valve in the distal socket.3 Varying ring thickness and sock plies accommodate volume fluctuation. This system's simplicity makes it ideal for the geriatric or the less active patient. An auxiliary belt is recommended for patients with higher activity.
Total Elastic Suspension Belt
The total elastic suspension belt, made of neoprene, is an easily applied form of suspension. Fastened around the waist with a velcro closure, the leg extension secures the belt to the proximal 8 inches of the socket.14 This design spreads pressures over a greater surface area and offers softness and elasticity, making it more comfortable. One of the drawbacks is its wide band causing body heat retention. It serves as an excellent auxiliary suspension because patients can apply and remove the belt from the prosthesis themselves. The belt is available in sizes ranging from infant to adult.
The Silesian belt originally was designed as an alternative to the pelvic band and joint, for transition to a suction socket.1 It provided the sense of security the patient was accustomed to. Its primary use today is to prevent socket rotation encountered in limbs with significant redundant tissue. It also is used when the total elastic suspension belt fails to provide adequate suspension or rotational control. Attached onto the socket over the trochanter, the belt encircles the sound side pelvis, lies between the iliac crest and trochanter, and terminates at the vertical midline of the anterior socket. Moving the socket attachment point more distal can control abduction for the short limb or limb with a weak gluteus medius muscle. The addition of a Silesian belt to suction sockets fitted to short limbs prevents the socket from slipping off when the patient sits. Significant hip instability, weak musculature, or very short limbs are contraindicated for the Silesian belt and most likely would be served better with a hip joint and pelvic band.
SHORT TRANSFEMORAL AMPUTATIONS OR WEAK HIP ABDUCTORS
Hip Joint and Pelvic Belt
Short residual limb length is not an automatic indication for the hip joint and pelvic belt as recommended previously. The original form of transfemoral prosthetic suspension, with its bulky and restrictive nature, has given way to more modern methods. Varying socket designs and the silicone locking liner are some of the alternatives that have been shown to be useful in these cases. However, mediolateral instability or lack of rotational control, sometimes associated with very short limbs, remains the primary indication for the hip joint and pelvic belt type of suspension.12 Made of metal, or sometimes polypropylene, the joint is placed over the anatomic hip joint and given 2° or 3° internal rotation to compensate for pelvic rotation and 2° or 3° inward tilt to compensate for any adduction of the prosthesis during swing phase. A 2-inch wide metal pelvic band attached to the joint extends from the posterior superior iliac spine to a point 1 inch medial to the anterior superior iliac spine. It should sit firmly against the pelvis just under the iliac crest.1 An attached leather pelvic belt suspends the prosthesis. If improperly aligned the joint and band can result in sitting discomfort. Drawbacks include limited motion, added weight, less cosmesis, and damage to clothing. For these reasons the hip joint and pelvic belt seldom are used.
Given the wide range of suspension systems for lower extremity amputees, a selection is best made by combining the objective data with patient preferences. Often times it is a case of trial and error. A quick reference chart of the more commonly used options is provided in Table 1. For the patient with a transtibial amputation, sleeve suspension is very common, as is the gel liner with shuttle lock when providing sheer reduction and minimizing vertical motion. The infrequently used thigh corset and joints is reserved for joint instability. The ideal suspension for the transfemoral patient is suction and should be the goal. However, if this is not feasible a total elastic suspension belt is applied easily, is comfortable to wear, and provides good suspension.
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© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
16. Reference not provided.