A gel liner is an interface used with a prosthesis that goes directly against the residual limb. It provides cushion, pressure distribution, and reduces friction. The gel liner can also provide suspension (a method of keeping the prosthesis attached to the limb).
There are many different styles of gel liner available. Liners are made of silicone, urethane, or mineral-based materials. They vary in thickness and stiffness and often have fabric on the outside.
In a gel liner, the pressure is distributed along the entire limb, which reduces the pressure felt in any one spot. The gel also helps to reduce friction against the skin that may occur while walking.
Gel liners that are used to suspend a prosthesis may have a pin or strap that fastens to the socket with a clip or locking mechanism, or there may be a sealing ring that provides suction suspension.
To apply the liner, follow these steps:
- Turn the liner inside out. Make sure it is clean and dry, without any substances on it that may irritate the skin, such as soap.
- Roll the liner up and over the limb. Do not pull it onto the limb as this can stretch the skin and cause discomfort or irritation. Make sure there are no air pockets. Be sure not to tear it with fingernails or jewelry.
- If there is a pin at the end of the liner, be sure to align it properly.
Care and Maintenance
Some liners tend to absorb bodily odors, perspiration and bacteria. Two liners may have been provided to you so that you may alternate use on a daily basis for hygiene purposes. Keeping the liners clean will extend their life and minimize the chance of skin irritations. Daily, you should do the following:
- Check the liner for signs of excessive wear or damage, such as tears or cracks in the gel or fabric. Clean the liner using mild soap and warm water. Do not use bleach, soaps with perfume, lotions or deodorants.
- Once the liner is clean, turn it right-side-out and allow it to air dry. You may have received a drying stand for this purpose. Avoid using a towel to dry the liner.
Liners need to be replaced, periodically. You should inspect your liner daily for tears or cracks in the gel or fabric, and report these to your prosthetist. Meeting with your prosthetist at least every six months should ensure that this is checked and that your liner is replaced as needed. Any replacements may require a prescription, which would mean you’d need to schedule a visit with your doctor.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.