Early in the project, I learned that amputees have to add and remove socks throughout the day to maintain the fit of their sockets. There are market solutions that address this problem. However, I wanted to focus on a design that could do it passively, so the amputee wouldn’t need to go to a bathroom or adjust their clothing to reach their sockets.
Throughout the project, I met with an amputee to obtain feedback on the design and to learn more about sockets. Their feedback helped me develop a base design that I presented at SCAD, but this was not enough for me. I knew the concept could work and that I would need proof of concept prototypes versus visual models.
I did not really understand how sockets were made or have in-hand references of what they looked like, so I began to speak with prosthetists in order to get a more realistic view of how sockets are built and designed. They gave me good feedback and parts to help me with the design. I then aligned the design with the new information and built a couple prototypes in my garage. These prototypes, which I showed to a couple amputees and a prosthetist, were not quite there yet, but the input led to a design solution that one amputee was able to try on even though the build was imperfect.
The design lessons from that socket were taken to develop two prototypes that were tested for expansion. They worked, showcasing that it is possible to build passive expansion and contraction sockets that don’t require amputees to add socks throughout the day. However, in order for these designs to be feasible, better materials and a more refined fabrication process are required to ensure the amputee is safe and that no new problems are introduced.