A photoelastic clinical study of the static load distribution at the stump/socket interface of PTB sockets.
ABSTRACT It is recognized that the assessment of prosthetic socket fit is based largely on the subjective clinical judgement of the prosthetist. This study assesses a novel technique, photoelasticity, for use as a tool for the qualitative and quantitative assessment of socket fit. Photoelasticity is a visual technique that produces contours of principal stress or strain differences. The colour and/or distance between the contours can be qualitatively or quantitatively assessed, using a polariscope, to give a full-field analysis of the stresses on the sockets's surface. This paper presents qualitative photoelastic socket surface contour data gathered during several prosthesis fitting sessions for two male trans-tibial amputees. Results are compared with the actual known contact regions at the stump/socket interface to determine if a relationship exists. This comparison of results has then been used to conclude the suitability of photoelasticity as a tool for the assessment of socket fit and recommendations are made as to the future developments of the technique. A direct relationship between the stump/socket contact regions and the qualitative photoelastic contours was demonstrated. Given further development this photoelastic technique may therefore be suitable for qualitative analysis of the interactions between the stump and prosthetic socket.