OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Integrating man and machine, that's always been the challenge for clinicians like Jay Martin.
As a maker of prosthetic limbs he incorporates new advances in computerized joints and light weight compounds.
The one thing that hadn't changed for years was the socket, the contact between prosthesis and flesh.
"It's static and hard," says Jay as he handles an old style socket. "They encapsulate heat and, for many amputees, these are really quite uncomfortable."
Josh Hodgson lost his leg to bone cancer as a kid more than 20 years ago.
He remembers the many appointments it used to take to make his socket fin and how that fit never lasted for long.
"Sometimes it keeps me out of work," says Josh of his old leg socket. "Just the traditional socket being rigid, it can rub raw."
He had to wait on someone like Jay to take consulting job with NASA to work on a new kind of exoskeleton that eventually turned into what Martin calls the 'Socketless Socket'.
"So this design conforms," he says while holding an example. "It matches to the limb. It matches to the dynamic body."
What replaced the old design is basically an adjustable harness kine of like a climber might wear.
"These are the lightest sockets available," Martin continues.
Patients can adjust it themselves if they like.
Jay smiles and says, "Our sockets definitely fit more like a pair of sneakers than they do a wooden clog."
Full disclosure here; Josh is now an employee of Martin Bionics, but the company does boast an impressive array of amputees who insist their lives are changed for the better based on the 'socketless socket'.
"It's an immediate change," says Josh. "It's an immediate feeling of relief."
The company has taken its products on the road too, to places like Haiti where the traditional socket designs were hard to make and maintain.
Martin claims, "We had patients fit within a couple of hours, start to finish."
Fits and starts, fall down, get back up.
Life for an amputee is a series of adjustments to new limitations.
Getting even a little help, for them, makes a big difference.
"A little bit is big for us," agrees Josh.
Martin just opened a new clinic in Oklahoma City called Martin Max Clinical Care to help new patients fit their new socket.
For more information on Martin Bionics go to www.martinbionics.com