Mr. Michael Love became interested in the field of prosthetics after serving as a corpsman at St Albans Naval Hospital during the Vietnam War. His experience working in the surgical unit assisting with general surgery and amputations influenced his decision to pursue a career in prosthetics.
In 1982 Mr. Love established his business, Amputee Treatment Center, located in Batavia, New York. While continuing to see patients and also designing and fabricating prosthetic devices, Mr. Love believed that the traditional rigid prosthetic socket design could be improved upon and began developing prototypes for patients in his spare time. His goal was to design a pneumatic socket, which could accommodate volume fluctuation that all amputees experience to some degree.
Pump It Up! TM
The socket Mr. Love has designed and developed is the trademarked Pump It Up! TM pneumatic socket design and is applicable to both above-knee amputees and below-knee amputees. This design incorporates an inflatable custom-made bladder sandwiched between an inner and outer socket, which allows the wearer to add or remove air with a small hand-held pump, as required to maintain suspension, comfort and add cushioning. The Pump It Up! TM socket design helps solve the fitting problems faced by most amputees.
After 16 years of research and development, two U.S. Patents were awarded to Mr. Love and a third Canadian patent was issued in 2005. Interestingly, during the patent search for comparable products, there were only 25 patents involved a pneumatic socket design, dating from 1860. Of the 25 patents, none were ever successfully manufactured due to the inherent difficulties to design and produce such a product.
The prosthetic socket is the portion of the artificial limb that the amputee wears over the residual limb. Because it must bear the weight of the individual, the socket is generally quite rigid and unforgiving and yet the socket is the essential part of the prosthesis. Although many new components and materials have been developed over the years, the basic design of a prosthetic socket has remained unchanged since the Civil War. Most amputees adjust the fit of their socket by adding or removing a combination of stump socks, liners or sheaths during the day. This is cumbersome and antiquated to say the least.
Most amputees experience volume changes every day, which cannot be accommodated in a traditional socket design with rigid walls. A daily change in volume is very similar to your hands and feet swelling at the end of the day. Therefore, a prosthetic device that allows the wearer to continually adjust the fit of their artificial limb is ideal and this is what the Pump It Up! TM socket design accomplishes.
For below-knee and above-knee amputees a cast is taken over the residual limb or the appropriate liner (with or without locking mechanism) to begin fabrication. The liner can be of made of any gel material from any manufacturer, locking or cushion and of any thickness. After fitting of the check socket, the polypropylene inner socket is fabricated and the openings are created in the inner socket that allow the bladder to migrate through the openings and contact the liner or residual limb. Prosthetic stump socks can still be worn in either case if desired. The openings are usually placed in the weight bearing areas and because the bladder fits circumferentially the openings can be anywhere within the socket. The outer socket is fabricated out of acrylic resin, carbon acryl or carbon fiber resulting in a streamlined socket with flexible inner socket, Pump It Up! TM socket design and laminated outer socket, the equivalent in thickness of a conventional socket. A small valve through the outside of the prosthesis allows the wearer the freedom to add or remove air with a handheld pump from the bladder to adjust for comfort, as well as fit without removing the prosthesis.
The Pump It Up! TM is covered by health insurance with appropriate documentation.