Prosthetic socket comfort often is a big problem for above knee amputees. The flexible prosthetic socket I am demonstrating here has changed my quality of life as an above-the-knee amputee! This socket is very comfortable, yet providing good stability when I walk on my prosthetic leg. When I have a day in office, or in my job having long meetings with customers, I require a comfortable prosthetic socket that enables me to sit for long hours without having pain from the prosthetic socket. When walking, I require good stability in the socket. My flexible prosthetic socket is made from silicone with different degrees of flexibility, and certain areas having a rigid carbon frame inside.
I had written the article about my flexible socket quite some time ago. In the meantime, I have had the opportunity to gain even more experience with different types of sockets. I would now say, the best functional socket is rigid, but having a perfect socket shape. Compare it with a shoe: a hiking shoe might be less comfortable than a slipper in some circumstances, but it gives you the best stability and function. Likewise, a flexible socket can be more comfortable in some situations, but a rigid socket is better in most. It is true that a flexible socket may “forgive” a suboptimal socket shape to some degree and I have had quite some feedback from amputees who had hoped that a flexible socket might solve their problems.
My answer is this: Try to get an optimal socket shape first. A prosthetic socket having an optimal shape does not hurt even if it is totally rigid! From that basis, you could try to get a more flexible socket version later, possibly even in addition, having different sockets to switch. Like you have both hiking shoes and slippers, and you switch depending on circumstances. But don’t compromise on socket shape. You will only know if your socket shape is right if it is rigid but does not hurt. Also see my article about Prosthetic Socket Fit.
In the video below I am testing a new above knee prosthetic socket. My prosthetist, Alexander Schwarz, is performing a video gait analysis: