Residual Limb Skin Temperatures and Prosthesis Effects on Heat Transfer - Center for Limb Loss and MoBility
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Residual Limb Skin Temperatures and Prosthesis Effects on Heat Transfer

PIs: Glenn K. Klute, Ph.D. and William R. Ledoux, Ph.D.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Dates: October 1, 2003 - September 30, 2006

Objective: Veterans with lower limb amputations often experience discomfort due to elevated skin temperatures within their prosthetic socket. These increased temperatures can also cause sweating, which increases the potential for skin problems on the residual limb as well as compromising the fit of the prosthesis. The objective of this study is to define the heat characteristics at the skin/socket interface during thermal steady state. Understanding the heat characteristics of this interface is an important step towards helping engineers design more thermally appropriate prostheses.

Research Design: The research plan is to collect temperature measurements at the skin/socket interface of transtibial amputees during resting conditions and while walking on a treadmill. This data will be used for the following: (1.) To create a thermographic contour map of the residual limb in order to reveal location dependent differences in skin temperature, and (2.) To show how quickly heat builds up within the socket and how long it takes to dissipate that heat.

Methodology: Eleven amputees have participated in an IRB-approved protocol where they rest in a sitting position for 60 minutes, walk on a treadmill at their self-selected speed for 30 minutes, and then rest while seated for a further 60 minutes while skin temperatures are being continuously measured at 16 locations on the residual limb.

Findings: The results indicate activity causes large (~2.5°) increases in skin temperatures. Rest periods of equal duration fail to provide sufficient cooling to return skin temperatures to their initial temperatures. This suggests increases in skin temperature will be cumulative through an amputee’s day and may have a detrimental effect on skin condition and comfort.

Milestones: An additional manuscript submission is planned for early 2010.