There are a variety of techniques used to connect your residual limb to your prosthetic device, but many lower limb amputees are turning to elevated vacuum systems as their default. The benefits of an elevated vacuum system for prosthetics includes making choosing the right prosthetic device easier for many patients.
Our certified prosthetists at Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience have seen first hand how our high-quality elevated vacuum sockets have made regaining mobility easier for our patients.
How does an elevated vacuum system work?
Before we delve into the benefits of an elevated vacuum system for prosthetics, let’s briefly discuss how the elevated vacuum system works. Sockets with elevated vacuum mechanics require three main components:
- A cushion liner for comfort
- A suspension sleeve to create a seal between the residual limb and prosthesis
- A pump to remove air
Pumps come in two different types: mechanical or electrical.
Electrical pumps: Electrical pumps maintain a desired socket pressure range. When the socket goes below a certain threshold, the pump activates to release air. As a result, a patient can take comfortable steps right away even if he or she has been sitting for a long period of time. These electrical pumps require charging every night in order to work properly the next day.
Mechanical pumps: Mechanical pumps compress air with each step. Although sockets using a mechanical pump may require a few steps after sitting to feel tight again, they won’t need to be charged like electrical pumps do. With elevated sockets, the residual limb needs to remain in a constant volume state in order for the suction to hold.
All of these components come together to help alleviate potential problems with prosthetic sockets and create a more comfortable environment for your residual limb. An elevated vacuum system works for both above-knee prosthetics and below-knee prosthetics.
Reduces fluid volume loss
The elevated vacuum system was designed to reduce volume loss in the residual limb. A study found that fluid volume loss during a 3 to 5 minute walk was less for patients who used elevated vacuum than patients who used suction.
Aids with stability
Since the pump creates a vacuum between the liner and socket, many patients find that an elevated vacuum system helps their prosthesis feel more stable and secure. It allows for the socket to become an extension of the body rather than a hard-to-maneuver device.
Relieves pressure points
Other conventional sockets may cause more volume loss throughout the day, which can lead to unequal distributions of pressure and discomfort. Adding extra socks over the residual limb may temporarily resolve the issue, but an elevated vacuum system manages fluid loss to balance out pressure.
Preserves skin health
A major problem some lower limb amputees face with prosthetic devices is the development of skin problems, specifically ulcers. In fact, chronic or recurring ulcers affect as much as 50% of people with traumatic lower limb amputations. However, many studies have found that elevated vacuum systems preserves the skin barrier and residual limb health.
Find the best elevated vacuum sockets with HOPE KC
If you think an elevated vacuum system will work for you, Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience builds the best elevated vacuum sockets in Kansas City. We are an award-winning, local prosthetic and orthotic company that strives to give our patients HOPE every day. Our highly trained clinical staff will evaluate you and custom-design the best prosthesis to fit your limb, life, and goals. For your convenience, we have six locations spanning across the Kansas City and other Missouri areas.
For more information about the benefits of an elevated vacuum system for prosthetics or to get one yourself, contact us today.