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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 42 Number 2, March/April 2005
Pages 147 — 154

Abstract - Residual-limb skin temperature in transtibial sockets

Jeffrey T. Peery, MS;1-2 William R. Ledoux, PhD;1-3 Glenn K. Klute, PhD1-2,4*

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering, VA Puget Sound, Seattle, WA; 2Department of Mechanical Engineering, 3Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, 4Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Abstract — The insulated environment of the lower-limb prosthesis can result in elevated residual-limb skin temperatures that may contribute to skin irritation, blistering, and a reduced quality of life. The design and materials of the prosthetic socket, suspension system, and liner can potentially alleviate these conditions, but the thermal load may vary with activity and location within the socket. To characterize the thermal environment at the skin-prosthesis interface, we made temperature measurements on five transtibial amputees at 14 locations on the residual limbs. After the participants donned their prosthesis and rested in the seated position for 15 min, the mean skin temperatures of their residual limbs increased by 0.8 degrees Celcius. Subsequent walking for 10 min resulted in a 1.7 degrees Celsius total increase in mean skin temperature. Thermal contour maps revealed the skin was coolest at the anterior proximal location and warmest across the posterior section, correlating with areas of low and high perfusion. From the results, we determined that residual-limb skin temperature depends on activity and locality. This information may aid in understanding where and why skin problems develop on lower-limb residual limbs and may provide design requirements for new prosthetic socket systems intended to alleviate temperature-related discomfort.
Key words: amputation, artificial limbs, biomechanics, heat transfer, prosthetics, rehabilitation, residual limb, skin temperature, transtibial sockets, veterans.

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