SANTA MONICA BLVD — Dealing with the loss of a limb is difficult enough without hassling with an outmoded prosthetic socket that will more than likely have to be replaced within the first year of its use.
That difficulty may soon be a thing of the past thanks to the development of a new type of socket, or interface, that grabs the bone instead of just cupping the limb.
Created by Santa Monica-based company Biodesigns Inc., the High-Fidelity Socket System gives prosthetic limb users a more natural feel with a greater range of motion.
While still early in its development, Biodesigns Inc. has fitted over 100 patients with the new interface and those numbers are expected to explode as the technology spreads throughout the medical community.
“I knew the idea would work,” Biodesigns Inc. founder Randy Alley said. “I’m amazed how well it works in reality.”
The High-Fidelity Socket takes a unique approach to what has been an antiquated practice. Instead of just molding a plastic socket around a patient’s limb, Alley has developed a system that uses windows cut out of the socket that allows the user’s tissue to push out of the openings letting the socket clamp down on the bone, creating a tighter fit.
Alley said the old method wasted the patient’s energy as the bone moved around inside the socket. Alley’s innovation eliminates that extra motion giving patients a more snug fit. In addition, because of its shape, the socket doesn’t have to be replaced as often as older models, which sometimes need to be re-fit at least once a year. Alley said that since beginning to fit patients in 2007, none of his clients have had to replace their sockets.
“It isn’t evolutionary,” Alley said, “it’s revolutionary.
“I expect in a decade everyone will be fit this way.”
Before Alley can plot a wide commercial release, he has to lock up a commercial partner to make it available to the general public. Thus far, Alley has used his office on Santa Monica Boulevard to fit his personal clients and has licensed the product to two facilities across the country. He expects that growth to continue once he has a backer for his new product.
Alley’s road to creating the High-Fidelity Socket System began during his days as a kinesiology student at UCLA.
Because of his background in biomechanics, he soon became interested in working with prosthetics. He was drawn to it because he felt that there was something wrong in the way manufacturers developed sockets. He said that all of the attention was focused on the limb, leaving the socket to remain underdeveloped.
He said that the old method didn’t address what he considered a more pressing problem. He wanted to create a device that would fit better, longer and more comfortably. All that led to the beginning of a project that has come a long way since its early days in 2007.
That work is paying off in the form of patient testimonials.
“I found it difficult to participate in my favorite sport, rowing, because of my elbow prosthesis would slip off and I would lose grip of the oar,” patient Michael Hart said. “But after being fit with the HiFi interface, I was able to rejoin my crew.
“It feels more like a part of my body.”