Nearly all upper limb prostheses, no matter where or how they are made, have at least three components: the terminal device, the frame and the socket. A person may choose to add a wrist component, and if a person has an above elbow or shoulder limb difference, they will also have a prosthetic elbow or shoulder. For most finger and partial hand differences, there is still the device they’re using, the frame and the socket. There are many options for terminal devices, and people can also choose to get creative with their frame. For a socket, though, there are basically only three choices: rigid acrylic, thermoplastic and silicone. While our Arm Dynamics centers do create thermoplastic and, occasionally, rigid acrylic sockets as initial test sockets and for people who are allergic to silicone or need more rigidity because of their unique limb difference, we usually create silicone sockets for our patients because of the number of benefits they offer. Our sockets can incorporate two main types of silicone: a soft, cushioning injection molded silicone or a firmer rolled silicone, or a combination of the two.


People who’ve had a traumatic amputation may not have a lot of cushioning between their bones and the end of their residual limb. Like our patient Joe, who is a fire chief: “I don't have a lot of fatty tissue on my hands, and the silicone provides some additional cushioning and comfort in those bony areas." Same for our patient Ricardo (pictured below), who was injured on the job. His arm was amputated directly below his elbow, and he needed soft silicone to cushion his bones. His prosthesis was key to keeping his residual arm away from harm: “When I didn’t have it on, the end of my stump was sensitive to the touch, and I was always bumping it against something. It hurt a lot.”

Playing pool with an activity-specific prosthesis

Keeping the Fit Comfortable

Our patient Shawn was nice enough to sit for a quick video and tell us about why he loves our silicone sockets. One thing he mentions is how it fits more like a glove than the thermoplastic sockets he was used to. That snug fit can not only allow for a device that doesn’t threaten to slip off multiple times a day, but because it’s so comfortable, it can increase the wear-time of the device. Our FIT survey tells us that our patients wear their devices for an average of eight hours a day. You can watch Shawn tell us about his socket below:

Another thing that Shawn brings up is the light pressure that his socket provides, which helps him with keeping those phantom limb pains and other nerve pains to a minimum.


One of the most fun qualities of silicone is that it can be any color. We encourage our patients to take advantage of that. Sometimes green is their thing:

Point Design Digit with Green Silicone

Or purple for a Lakers fan (who is also an Avengers fan):

Henry Cox Thanos V2

Or blue to pull off that University of Kansas look:

Kansas University Theme Socket with Taska Gen2

On a limb with hypersensitivity, the prosthetist and their assistant or technician can make sure the hardness level of the silicone is reduced during the fabrication process. This means that silicone is flexible in two ways — in general as a socket material, and when we dial down the hardness level as needed for people with sensitive residual limbs. 

Silicone sockets provide better cushioning, a more comfortable fit, and they’re customizable but that’s not all! Silicone also has healing properties that, over time, promote the growth of new skin, which you can read about in our article, “Custom Silicone Sockets: The Ultimate in Comfort and Control for Prosthetic Arms.” Additionally, this material builds up less heat on the inside of the socket, so it feels cooler, which you can read about in our article, “How To Increase Wear Time with Silicone Sockets.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from having a silicone socket, please contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation, either in-person or via video chat. Our clinical team discusses each component of the prostheses we fit our patients with. If you have a comment regarding this article, please leave it below.


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