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Home Blog 4 Different Materials, 4 Difference Purposes: The Basics of Prosthetic Socks and Liners

4 Different Materials, 4 Difference Purposes: The Basics of Prosthetic Socks and Liners

Posted in: Amputee, Prosthetic

Posted on: by Level Four

4 Different Materials, 4 Difference Purposes: The Basics of Prosthetic Socks and Liners

From basic models to complex solutions, when it comes to prosthetics, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Prosthetic socks protect the skin from friction created in the device’s socket, as well as adjust to the shrinking and swelling of the residual limb. Sock thickness and weight affect the fit and function of the prosthetic, making the small fabric barrier a big deal. With different blends for different purposes, check out the benefits and challenges of popular sock varieties:

Wool:

Pros: Resilient, absorbent, and pliable, wool socks provide maximum cushioning and comfort. They absorb liquids quickly, keeping you just as dry and protected against perspiration in hot climates as they would with snow and ice in colder areas.

Cons: Wool socks are a more expensive option, and thick fibers make them difficult to layer with other liners and socks to achieve the proper fit. Additionally, they work best when washed by hand and air dried, as they’ll lose shape and efficacy if machine dried.

Cotton:  

Pros: Cotton is gentle for even the most sensitive of skins, creating a hypoallergenic barrier between skin and prosthesis. These socks are especially easy to wash and manage, and they don’t lose their shape under duress. They provide an inexpensive option that can be easily layered for a custom fit.

Cons: Unlike wool, cotton socks provide little absorbency and don’t dry while in use, creating chafed and irritated skin. Additionally, they’re thinner and provide less cushion and padding than thicker options, putting more stress on below-the-waist residual limbs.

Synthetic:

Pros: A combination of natural and man-made fibers, socks made of synthetic materials like Lycra wick perspiration and dampness away from the skin, protecting against irritation and rash. High elasticity helps them hold their shape, and special blends prevent bacterial and fungal growth to reduce odor.

Cons: Blends containing plastic, nylon, or polyester don’t breathe easily, instead trapping sweat that fails to evaporate. Partnered with a too-tight fit, they run the risk of skin irritation.

Gel:

Pros: Gel-lined socks provide cushioning, pressure distribution, and friction reduction with a silicone-based material. They can also provide suspension, helping the prosthesis stay attached to the limb.

Cons: This option requires special washing care to preserve the gel material, and they must be stored properly to maintain shape and function.

Selecting the right sock material, ply, and amount is an art form that takes practice and skilled advice. Set up an appointment today with one of our specialists who’s trained to connect you with the right accessories for the right fit.