Advancements in materials and robotics technology have transformed prosthetic arms and legs in recent years, but the carbon fiber socket between an artificial part and the wearer remains a challenge to a comfortable fit. If it doesn't fit correctly, painful sores and infections develop.
A new re-adjustable socket project, however, has the potential to save amputees from numerous visits to the prosthetist.
"When there's a disaster, people will donate used limbs," said Elizabeth Tsai, a masters student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab and a cofounder of the Beneficial Technologies for Health, or BETH, Project. "But then what happens is people can't really use these limbs because they don't have a custom socket."
The BETH Project began in February at an MIT conference called H@cking Medicine when Tsai met Asa Hammond, a University of California, Los Angeles undergrad concentrating on physiological science, and industrial designer Jason Hill. Under guidance from MIT alum and businessman Ramin Abrishamian, the group ran with Hammond's suggestion to make improved low-cost sockets.