When it comes to a prosthetic device, one element plays a crucial role that many people often overlook - the below-knee suspension sleeve. Understanding how it works and taking good care of it can make a world of difference in how you use and interact with your device.
Read on to get the full scoop on these sleeves, their materials, and upkeep. Plus, we'll offer some expert advice from the Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience team.
What's a Suspension Sleeve?
A below-knee suspension sleeve acts like a bridge between the socket of your prosthetic device and your residual limb. It's designed to seal in air, helping to adhere the device to your limb. This tight fit minimizes excessive movement while still allowing your knee some freedom and mobility.
The materials used to make these sleeves can vary significantly. Here are some of the most common materials:
The Consultation Process
Before getting a suspension sleeve, a consultation with a professional prosthetist is essential. This meeting allows the prosthetist to understand your specific needs, lifestyle, and comfort preferences, which guides their recommendations for the best type of suspension sleeve for you.
During a consultation at Align Clinic, we:
To get the most mileage out of your below-knee suspension sleeve, proper care is vital. Here are a few quick tips:
In addition to suspension sleeves, there are other popular techniques that prosthetists employ to ensure a secure connection between you and your prosthesis. One such technique is the use of Suction Systems or Vacuum Systems, like the Ottobock's Harmony System.
Unpacking Prosthetic Pin Locking Systems
Beyond suspension sleeves, another common system you might come across is the mechanical pin lock system. Here, a pin attached to the distal liner is inserted into a lock mechanism, creating the interface for suspension. This system, clinically referred to as the Below Knee Prosthesis with a Pin Locking Liner, can be used with a variety of socket designs.
How to Properly Fit a Suspension Sleeve
Fitting your suspension sleeve correctly is crucial to ensure comfort, avoid skin irritation, and maximize the functionality of your prosthesis.
Here's a simple step-by-step guide:
Putting On and Taking Off the Prosthesis
Here's a quick step-by-step guide on how to don and doff your prosthetic device:
In addition to the steps above, regular cleaning and maintenance of your prosthesis are crucial. Clean your prosthetic socks, sheaths, and the soft insert as needed, following the manufacturer's directions. Also, remember that wearing a fresh sock every day is a must.
If you ever feel stuck or experience difficulty releasing the pin, don't panic. Often, it's a sock covering the pin that's causing the issue. Persistent pulling should free the pin. In extreme cases, pouring soapy water into the liner to break the suction can help.
Understanding the Costs
Below-knee suspension sleeves vary in price depending on several factors including the material, brand, and specific features. As a rough guide, these can cost anywhere between $30 to $150 or more. However, it's important to remember that investing in a quality sleeve can potentially save you money in the long run, reducing the need for frequent replacements and offering better overall comfort and functionality.
Consider the following points when budgeting for your sleeve:
Understanding your prosthetic device, including the integral role of suspension sleeves, can make a world of difference in your comfort and overall experience.
At Align Clinic, we're dedicated to providing top-notch guidance and customized solutions that cater to your specific needs.
Have more questions or looking to get a prosthetic device for you or a loved one? Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation. Let's work together to help you live a fulfilled, active lifestyle!
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