New Socket Technology Improves Performance for Individuals with Limb Loss: April is Limb Loss Awareness Month

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Revolutionary High-Fidelity Interface proving successful for upper and lower limb prosthetic wearers.

It is the greatest invention in prosthetics in the last 100 year!" Upper Limb Amputee Chuck Hildreth

April is the first National Limb Loss Awareness Month, a campaign sponsored by the Amputee Coalition. More than 2 million Americans live with limb loss and that number grows by 185,000 each year, either through trauma, disease, or birth defect. Returning patients to a lifestyle they enjoyed prior to losing a limb is the goal of prosthetists. Due to advancements in designs and materials many prosthetic companies are pushing the envelope and are providing innovative devices and clinical techniques that provide higher levels of function and mobility for the amputee and congenital population.

One such innovator is Southern California-based biodesigns, inc., (, a high-performance prosthetic company specializing in the most advanced upper and lower limb prosthetic solutions. biodesign’s CEO and chief prosthetist Randall Alley has developed the patent-pending High-Fidelity Interface (socket) System for both upper and lower limb prosthetic wearers. This new interface offers a radical departure from traditional sockets by providing a high level of intrinsic bone control as the interface captures and reproduces skeletal motion. Benefits include a more efficient, better performing and more comfortable socket with increased prosthesis stability, greater energy efficiency and tactile feedback.

Alley explains that the High-Fidelity Interface was developed in response to patients’ complaints that their socket is not fitting snugly or comfortably, resulting in poor positional, operational, and functional control. “A person can have the most technologically advanced prosthetic foot, knee, hand, or arm, but if doesn’t connect to the body properly, it won’t deliver the proper results and the individual is less likely to wear it and enjoy the benefits it is intended to deliver,” he said.

In addition to being used by patients in everyday life, the High-Fidelity Interface is also in clinical studies as part of a larger project by Dean Kamen’s Company, (Segway inventor), DEKA Research and Development, Manchester, N.H., and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for use with their high-tech “Luke Arm.” Alley is DEKA’s lead interface/socket consultant working on the DEKA/DARPA arm and is working with Next Step O&P, Manchester, N.H., on the DEKA/DARPA project.

A few patients who have already benefitted from the High-Fidelity Interface include:

  •     Michael Hart, a student at Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, N.Y. Prior to being fitted with the High-Fidelity, Hart found it difficult to participate in his favorite sport, rowing, because his below-elbow prosthesis would slip and he would lose his grip on the oar. But after being fitted with the High-Fidelity Interface, he was able to rejoin his crew team at the Litchfield Hills Rowing Club, Litchfield, Conn., and resume dirt bike riding.
  •     Chuck Hildreth of Gifford, N.H., an amputee for 29 years from an electrical accident, was first fitted with a myoelectric hand for his right side and dual cable system hook on the left. “I really didn’t wear it much because of discomfort with pressure and frustration with movement within the socket,” he said. “When the socket is not comfortable, you are concentrating more on discomfort than on what you can do.” But with the High-Fidelity Interface, Hildreth is using his prosthesis again. “Now I’m able to concentrate on what I’m doing rather than fighting with the arm to stay in place,” he said. “Previously all of the soft tissue in the residual limb would move in the socket. In this new technology, there’s no more slushy skin. I have more freedom of movement and more stability and better control of the arm. I want to wear my prostheses now,” he emphasized. “It is the greatest invention in prosthetics in the last 100 years!”
  •     Carly Davis is a senior at Sacramento State University and was a participant last year in the Miss Lake County 2010 pageant, an official Miss California and Miss America Preliminary Pageant. In addition to the HiFi Interface, Davis was fit with the i-LIMB Hand, the world’s first fully articulating and commercially-available bionic hand. “The i-Limb gives Carly the ability to better grip objects and offers additional motor control,” Alley said. “That is especially important to Carly who works as a professional photographer to earn money to pay for her education. Because it captures a much greater amount of skeletal motion than traditional sockets, the High-Fidelity Interface is also ideal for her because she has a very short residual limb.”
  •     Linda Lyons, Union City, Ohio, suffered a left transfemoral (above knee) amputation due to a motorcycle accident in July 2007. She was riding as a passenger with her husband when at dusk their motorcycle mirror clipped an oncoming car’s mirror. After the accident, she was fit with another socket system, which had functioned for her in her job as a hairdresser. However, she experienced new levels of comfort after being fitted with the High-Fidelity Interface. “I felt like I could skip with the HiFi! It felt much lighter and more comfortable and I felt like I had more control of my prosthesis,” she said. “Before I had the HiFi, if I was going to the mall or going to do a lot of walking, I knew I would tire out so fast that I would have to use a cane. With the HiFi, I’m not as tired, I can wear it longer, and more comfortably.”

About Randall Alley
Randall Alley, CP, LP, FAAOP is the creator of the High-Fidelity Interface, the XFrame and ACCI (Anatomically Contoured and Controlled Interface), three prosthetic interface designs that brought superior biomechanical principles to the O&P field. Alley has contributed to five prosthetic textbooks, is a clinical columnist, and an international speaker. Alley received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of the Army for his upper extremity training of military personnel and most recently was awarded with the Clinical Creativity Award from the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists (AAOP). Alley received both his bachelor of science in kinesiology and his prosthetic certificate from UCLA, and is a licensed and board certified prosthetist.

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