Introduction: DIY Prosthetic Leg Foam Cover (Cosmesis)
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:
Foam Pool Noodle (may be optional)
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.
Runner Up in the