DIY Prosthetic Leg Foam Cover (Cosmesis)





Introduction: DIY Prosthetic Leg Foam Cover (Cosmesis)

About: I hope to help people with the things I make.

A prosthetic covering, known as a cosmesis, is designed to make the prosthetic device more human-like. Unfortunately they can only be ordered by a licensed prosthetist and typically range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Since it's summer and time for some shorts weather, a friend of mine contacted me about making one before he left on a trip to Europe. This instructable offers steps to design your own foam cover for a prosthetic device for a cost of $45 with a time to build of about 3 hours. Since there are many different kinds of prosthetic devices these are sample steps with ideas on how to customize this process for your specific device. The original unaltered device can be seen in the images here with the final, covered product shown in the title image. You can also check out a quick video taken when testing that the covering didn't interfere with the operation of the device.

Step 1: Materials

This project uses standard tools you should have at home. The rest of the materials cost me around $45, which actually has enough velcro and foam to make 2 of the coverings in case you mess up. This is significantly less than the cost of standard foam covers which also need a certified prosthetist to purchase and fit them.

What you'll need:



Super Glue

Foam Pool Noodle (may be optional)

Pantyhose (non-sheer)

Foam Sheet


Step 2: Rigid Foam Structure

First you will need to take the pool noodle and cut some more rigid pieces to help give you prosthetic the general shape of a leg before covering it with a wrapping of the foam sheet. This will need to be done differently depending on the prosthetic leg but for this model I cut a small circle to fill a gap above the knee as well as a small piece to fill out the calf. Take turns trimming some foam off and holding on the leg with the foam sheet held around it to approximate a good shape. Use some of the velcro to secure these pieces directly to the prosthetic device to make sure they don't move too much when covered with the sheet of foam.

Step 3: Shaping the Foam Sheet

Lay out a section of the foam sheet that is long enough to cover the entire prosthetic device and is wide enough to easily wrap around the leg's circumference. Starting at the ankle, begin trimming sections of the foam away until the foam just barely can be touched edge to edge around the leg. This is where the velcro will be added to hold it around the leg.

Step 4: Adding Velcro to Foam

Now take your 1" velcro strips and cut them to the length of the edges of your foam sheet. You will peel back the plastic covering the adhesive and then stick them along the foam sheet. Do this slowly and make sure to pinch the foam and velcro together to make sure it sticks well. To make sure that the foam and the velcro adhere well you may need to use superglue, this worked wonders for me. Then velcro the ends of the foam sheet together all the way up the leg. until you have a nice covering.

Step 5: Covering and Shaping

To give the foam covering a bit more shape use rubber bands or electrical tape to form more contoured areas such as the knee of calf. After trying several things we found just using electrical tape pretty loosely wrapped to work very well and not interfere with the motion of the leg. Once finished pull the pantyhose over the device. The non-sheer kind will work best in giving it a skin tone. Several layers may be required to not see the tape or foam color.

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    6 Discussions

    There are also Jobst support stockings that you can get in a medical supply shop. That material, if memory serves, is somewhere between the Spandex and plain pantyhose. It is pretty durable. Just a thought from a retired surgeon.

    pantyhose can be pretty fragile and torn quickly if rubbing accidentally on a rough surface. you can find skin toned spandex, it's usually used for theatrical costumes (and figure skating suits for example). but, of course, you'll need a sewing machine and some sewing skills.

    Wonder if it's possible to do a 3D model, reverse that digitally, make a mold, and do a rubber cast? Seems feasible, but maybe as costly as the prosthetist's.

    Nice work on a budget! Looks good!

    1 reply

    Great idea! I initially wanted to do a scan of his leg and then 3D print a mirrored version of that which would mount on the prosthetic leg out of a rubbery material and make it a mesh so it wouldn't be too heavy. Ultimately, after talking with him though he really wanted something that was like his other foam covering that was bought by a prosthetist a while ago. I think the rubber casting would work really well if you could make it thin and flexible enough to not interfere with the knee during the leg swing.

    very creative. I am curious, how does the foam hold up? I assume at the knee joint it likely wears a bit?

    honestly I just looked at the pictures, so maybe you already mentioned it... but have you considered making spare "hot swappable" parts? like, a few of the pink foam parts pre-cut to size... a second wrap with Velcro, etc?

    1 reply

    The foam seemed to be working well without tearing. I was pulling on it very hard and it hasn't torn yet. We kept it a bit looser around the knee area to prevent adding any resistance to the knee joint during the leg swing which would hurt the walking gait. Will keep you posted as it is tested more in depth!

    All the foam parts are attached with velcro so they could definitely be easily swapped for other pre-cut parts. The only kind of time consuming thing is taking off and putting on the pantyhose as well as wrapping the leg in electrical tape to get the perfect form factor which would slow down the "swapping" process. Is that what you were meaning?