Artificial limbs are high-tech devices. They are adjusted to the individual user and today they make it possible for people to have a normal gait, on condition that the shoes are adapted to the prosthetic device. Prosthetic shoes should enhance safety while being functional and comfortable when both walking and standing. This gives prosthetic users greater mobility.
Mit Handycap rückenfreundlich und sicher gehenWell into the 19th century, amputees from the knee down or those who lost a whole leg had to revert to more or less simple wooden stilts in order to keep moving. But with so many soldiers losing limbs during the First World War, it was around 1920 that work began on developing scientifically based prosthetic devices. Today, artificial limbs are individually adapted high-tech devices that let users take part in normal social life. To obtain the best possible results, the right fit of the shaft is crucial. The shaft is the interface between user and prosthetic device. If the shaft does not fit properly, it will leave pressure marks and cause pain, thus restricting mobility. This is why prosthetic devices should always be made by professionals. The same also applies to prosthetic shoes. They have to be well adapted not only to the prosthetic foot but also to the healthy foot. An ideal fit depends on using the right lasts during the production process. The last should be based on the natural shape of the foot so that the shoes don't squash the feet and are neither too big nor too small. Lasts are also used to make prosthetic feet.
A harmonious gait depends crucially on controlling pronation of the foot. This can be achieved for example by supporting the middle foot and using a widened sole.
The special attributes of a prosthetic shoe also include effective shock absorption, implemented with a sloping heel section that has an integrated damping element. A slightly recessed metatarsal bar and a pronounced toe pitch not only support correct pronation but also reduce the risk of stumbling. The toe pitch refers to the distance between the toe of the shoe and the ground when the shoe is standing on a flat surface.
While we can normally feel uneven or slippery surfaces when we're walking, such perception is restricted with an artificial limb. The shoe must be fitted with technical aids to tread safely. The sole therefore needs a special profile. Preferably, its material composition should enhance anti-slip protection and warrant the necessary stability on smooth, wet surfaces.
A prosthetic foot aims to replicate the natural foot, but fails to achieve natural mobility. Prosthetic shoes should therefore be designed to be easy and comfortable to put on and take off. A large opening, a loop on the tongue or also a one-handed closure can make it much easier to put the prosthetic shoe on and take it off again. Prosthetic shoes should weigh as little as possible, because the heavier the shoe, the greater the centrifugal forces involved in swinging the prosthetic leg. Ideally, the shoe should weigh less than 500 g (for German shoe size 42).
The shoe must be made of top quality materials. These include vegetable-tanned leather with adequate water vapour permeability and permeable textiles to guarantee a balanced climate inside the shoe while making it pleasant to wear even for longer periods of time. After all, prosthetic shoes are not intended just for the artificial limb device: the user's own foot also has to feel good in the shoe. Always therefore pay attention to permeable materials.
All named attributes for a good prosthetic shoe can help to relieve the pressure on joints and backs, thus protecting the entire articular chain and counteracting backache. The right shoe helps to avoid physiologically detrimental movements.