Therapeutic exercise table
United States Patent 2448162

This invention relates to a therapeutic exercise table, and it has particular reference to an articulated reclining area or deck positioned on a table frame by means of which the patient may be readily brought into comfortable and beneficial postures, and through which stimulating vibrations...

Wettlaufer, William L.
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Wettlaufer, William L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/618, 5/722, 5/915, 601/56, 601/70
International Classes:
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US Patent References:
2303433Bed construction1942-12-01
2211542Motorized bed for vascular exercise1940-08-13
2104745Rocking hospital bed1938-01-11
2014508Bed and the like1935-09-17
1567818Vibrating exercise table1925-12-29


This invention relates to a therapeutic exercise table, and it has particular reference to an articulated reclining area or deck positioned on a table frame by means of which the patient may be readily brought into comfortable and beneficial postures, and through which stimulating vibrations may be transmitted to the body.

The invention contemplates a table whose surface may be positioned in a single horizontal plane, or in a plurality of planes inclined with respect to each other and to the horizontal, so that the person undergoing treatment may stretch out fully prone or supine, or have the leg portions of the body bent with regard to the trunk. In the articulated table of the present invention, the several surfaces are so mounted with respect to each other that the weight of the body itself, and the distribution of the weight, inherently adjust the sections into those relative positions best suited to relieve the muscles from strain.

The invention moreover contemplates a table whose sections may be set into sustained vibrations, so as to impart stimulating massaging action to the body of the user, and wherein the nature or character of the vibrations is periodic and undulatory, as opposed to that type of vibration commonly identified as jolting or shaking.

It has been established that periodic undulatory vibrations of suitable wave length and amplitude may stimulate blood circulation and muscle tonicity and also be restful, whereas the violent or shaking type of vibration adversely affects the nervous system of many people for whom massage treatments are indicated.

A typical embodiment of the invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein: Fig. 1 is a top plan of the table; Fg. 2 is a bottom plan; Fig. 3 is a side elevation, an alternate position for the table top being shown in dot and dash lines; Fig. 4 is an enlarged section on the line 4-4 of Fig. 2.

Fig. 5 is a fragmentary section on the line 5-5 of Fig. 3, particularly showing the pivotal mounting; Fig. 6 is a fragmentary side elevation of the pivot shown in Fig. 5; Fig. 7 is a fragmentary section on the line 7-T of Fig. 3, particularly showing the control devices; and Fig. 8 is a diagram of a wiring circuit.

The table comprises a frame including four upright legs 1 interconnected by end and side rails 12 and 13 and reinforced at the corners by blocks 14, these members being framed as desired according to known methods of cabinet construction. It is sufficient that the table be sturdy and of such dimensions as to suit the intended purposes.

The upper edges of the side and end rails provide a support for an articulated top which, as shown in Figs. 1, 2, and 3, is made of three sections respectively numbered as 15, 16, and 17. The end sections 15 and 17 may extend a few inches beyond the rails 12, while the over-all length of the three sections may be such as to accommodate most persons disposed in a prone or supine position, say five feet and eight or nine inches. It will be seen that the head end section 15 is considerably longer than the middle and lower end sections 16 and 17, in fact, almost twice as long. Sections 16 and 17 are about the same length, the end section 17 being possibly an inch longer than the middle section. This division and proportioning is made, for one reason, to accommodate the head and trunk, thighs, and lower legs of the user on the three sections, and the actual dimensions are such as to adapt the table to persons of usual height.

The section 15 is formed by a pair of side rails 18 between which is resiliently supported a sheet 19 of plywood or the like, and on which is disposed a padding sheet 21 of sponge rubber and a cover fabric 22. The cover may be simply lapped under the backing sheet 19 on the sides and end and tacked in place, as indicated by the reference numeral 23 in Fig. 2. The inner end of the sheet 19 is chambered, as shown by the reference numeral 24, Fig. 4, and it will be seen to project slightly beyond the ends of the side rails 18, which ends are arcuately recessed. The sections 16 and 17 are formed and padded in a similar manner, except that the ends of the side rails 25 of the middle section 16 are respectively rounded and recessed, while the inner ends of the rails 26 of the section 17 are rounded, these rounds and recesses forming nesting swing joints as will be apparent from inspection of the drawing. The sections are connected to each other for relative arcuate movement, so that they may assume various positions of alignment or inclination. For this purpose, a sheet of cover fabric 27 is laid over the under sides of adjacent section ends, as shown for the sections 15 and 16 in Fig.

4. This is backed by a pad 28 of sponge rubber which extends between the side rails, and the pad is secured under light compression by a pair of cross bars 29, 31, respectively extending between the side rails 18 and 25 of the sections 15 and 16.

Before the cross bars are secured to the side rails, they are interconnected by one or more hinges 32 so laid that the sections may be inclined downwardly. In order to anchor the sections, Z-plates 33 are secured to the undersides of the backing sheets by screws 34, and these exert a supporting and retaining pressure against the cross bars through interposed pads 35 of sponge rubber. The connection between the sections 16 and 17 is effected in the same manner, except that the connecting hinges 36 are laid to break in the opposite direction, as is clearly shown in Fig. 3. The other ends of the sections and 17 are likewise provided with fixed cross bars and Z-plates connected to the backing sheets 19, thereby resiliently supporting all sections at their corners.

The articulated table top sections 15, 18, and I7, after having been assembled, are connected to the table frame by means of pivots extending from the fixed side rails 13 and the side rails 25 of the middle section 16. As best shown in Figs. 5 and 6, these pivots may be simple carriage bolts 37 countersunk in the fixed rails 13, to pass through bearing bushings 38 in the rails 25, the bearings being secured by plates 39 and the bolts by washer and nut assemblies 41. If desired, the pivotal connection may be made by a throughbolt or other means.

It will be seen that the pivots are aligned with each other at a location which is just slightly to the right of the mid plane of the section 16, as viewed in Figs. 2 and 3. It is further to be noted that, when the sections are in the same plane, as shown in full lines, the points of support are the end rails 12, which respectively contact the side rails of sections 15 and 17, and the pivots 37 which sustain the middle section 16. The sections, as just described, are also supported as between each other by the oppositely breaking hinges 32 and 36.

It will therefore be apparent that, if a downward force is exerted along the line of the hinges 32, the sections will move from an aligned to a mutually inclined position, as shown in the dot and dash lines of Fig. 3. Such action will cause a sliding movement of the lower section 17 over the lower end rail 12, to establish a fulcrum point at the region designated by the reference numeral 42. Limitation of total displacement is obtained by means of angularly disposed stop blocks 43, located on the lower inner faces of the side rails 13 at a position to engage the inner ends of the side rails 18. A fulcrum point for the long section 15 may also be created by a pair of blocks 44, also secured to the inner faces of the rails 13 to abut the edges of the rails 18 slightly to the right of the transverse center.

The moment of the left hand portion of the section 15 with respect to the blocks 44 as pivot points is greater than the moment of the right hand portion, and therefore the section 15 tends to restore itself to a horizontal position. Similarly, the moment of the section 17 with respect to the edge 42 impels that section to return to the horizontal, and these combined moments impose a couple on the middle section 16 restoring it to its horizontal plane. Hence, when forces or loads applied on the table are not concentrated or made stronger on the left hand portion of the section 16, the table assumes the horizontal position shown in the figures. This construction and adjustment of pivot points make it unnecessary to operate the sections by means of gears, screws, or the like, such as have been incorporated in previous articulated beds.

When a person lies face down on the table, as is desirable for certain treatments, the table is flat or horizontal. On the other hand, when lying on the back, the sections may be retained in alignment, or may be inclined to each other, depending upon the position assumed and the distribution of body weight. Such inclination again is effected automatically, and requires no additional mechanical devices. In the table shown in the scale of the drawings, the offsetting of the fulcrum points from a transverse plane through the centers of gravity has been made such as to cause the sections to move relative to each other, and in each direction, freely and smoothly and without undue jarring.

Each section of the instant table is provided with a vibratory device so formed as to develop a periodic motion which is transmitted to the body of the occupant. As best shown in Figs. 2 and 4, each of the sections 15, 16, and 1I is equipped on its under surface with a small electric motor 51 whose projecting shaft end receives a small fan 52 having a counterweight 53 on one blade thereof. The motor casing is embedded at diametrically opposed portions in rubber pads 54, which in turn are seated in recessed blocks 55. A perforated cup-like shell 56 engages the lower block 55, and it is secured by means of screws 57 to the backing sheet of the section, thereby retaining the motor in position.

Each motor is individually operated by current flowing from the supply lines 61 (Fig. 8) through a control switch 62 and a rheostat 63.

As further shown in Figs. 3 and 7, there may also be included in the supply line a timer 64, which automatically opens the circuits after a selected or predetermined number of minutes.

The control devices are conveniently mounted on a plate 65 which covers a recess 66 in the side rail 13.

As a typical illustration of a manner in which the invention may be used, it may be considered that a physician or physiotherapist desires to alleviate a patient's condition of hypertension and sluggish circulation, and for which gentle massage is frequently indicated. This will, in most instances, require the patient to assume various positions on the table, and, as previously explained, its sections naturally adjust themselves to such position and according to the distribution of body weight. The timer 64 is set, and the switches 62 are closed as desired, while the rheostats are also manipulated to govern the amplitude of the vibrations. These vibrations are created by the unbalanced force of the rotating counterweight 53, and they are transmitted through the intervening resilient and relatively rigid materials of construction to the patient.

It may be noted that the intensity of the vibration for a given current input (and assuming identical characteristics for the motors) is not a constant. This is because the damping effect on such vibrations will vary with the pressure exerted on the motor casing by its support, and by the variations in pressure on the table sections caused by the body weight. Hence, the individual control of the motor input by the rheostats 63 is highly desirable to effect a reasonable synchronism between the vibratory impulses transmitted to the various parts of the body. Otherwise, the generation of beats would impart a noticeable jar to the patient, and thus tend to defeat the beneficial effects contemplated.

In many instances, only two of the sections 15, 16,and t1 need be equipped with motors, the connections between sections serving to transmit sufficient impulse to that section which isnot provided with a motor. In this case, it is preferable to locate the motors away-from the geometrical centers of the equipped sections toward the remotely stimulated section. It is also possible, when employing only two motors, practically to eliminate a tendency toward beats.

While the invention has been described with respect to a single embodiment, it will be apparent that its components and materials of construction and details may be modified without departure from its principles. Accordingly, it is intended that the invention be accorded a scope commensurate with that expressed in the following claims.

I claim: 1. A therapeutic exercise table comprising a relatively stationary frame having upright legs and horizontal spaced side and end rails extending therebetween, an articulated top for said frame comprising a plurality of sections hinged together at adjacent ends, and pivots positioned between the side rails and one of the sections to provide a relatively fixed fulcrum about which said section may oscillate, said stationary frame further providing relatively movable fulcrum and supporting means about which other sections of the top may oscillate, the masses and moments of said sections being such that their resultant with respect to said fixed fulcrum urges said sections into horizontal alignment on said frame.

2. A therapeutic exercise table comprising a relatively stationary frame including horizontally disposed spaced end and side rails, an articulated top on said frame, said top having at least three sections hingedly connected to each other in series, the hinge joints being reversed at the ends of the middle section so that the end sections may pivot in opposite directions with respect to the middle section, relatively stationary pivots extending from the side rails to the middle section whereby said section may oscillate with respect to the frame, and means on the frame providing supports for the end sections with respect to which said sections may oscillate with relative sliding motion, one end section having a greater length than the other sections, the resultant of the moments of said sections about the stationary pivots being sufficient to move said sections into horizontal alignment on the fixed frame when said sections are relieved of extraneous load.

3. A therapeutic exercise table comprising a relatively stationary frame having spaced horizontal end and side rails, an articulated top mounted between the side rails, said top including at least three sections, the outer ends of the end sections being adapted to engage the end rails when said sections are brought into horizontal alignment, hinges interconnecting the inner ends of the end sections to the opposite ends of the middle section, relatively stationary pivots extending from the side rails to the middle section to provide a support and fulcrum about which said middle section may oscillate, fulcrum blocks on the side rails adapted to support one end section when the same is not supported by its adjacent end rail, and stop blocks for said one end section to limit oscillating movement thereof, said one end section having a greater length and mass than the middle section, the :moments of said end sections about their fulcrum points being sufficient to impose a force couple on theimiddle section restoring all sections into horizontal alignment when said sections are released from extraneous loads. * 4. In a therapeutic exercise article of furniture adapted to support the body of the user, a pair of interconnected supporting sections each having spaced side rails and a backing sheet of relatively rigid material therebetween, a resilient pad disposed on one side of said sheet and secured thereto, a second resilient pad positioned on the opposite side of the sheet and between the ends of adjacent sections, cross bars connected between the adjacent ends of the sections, hinges connected to and between the cross bars, said bars and hinges being positioned against said second resilient pad, angle members secured to the backing sheets and extending under the cross bars, additional resilient pads interposed between said angle members and said cross bars, a vibrator connected to at least one of said sections and to the underside of the backing sheet thereof, and a relatively fixed support for both of said sections including a pivot connection to one section with respect to which the sections may be oscillated.

5. In a therapeutic exercise article of furniture adapted to support the body of the user, a body supporting section including a pair of spaced rails and a backing sheet positioned therebetween, resilient padding secured to the surface of the sheet adapted to be contacted by the user, a relative stationary frame, means for mounting said section on the frame, a periodic vibration generator connected to the opposite surface of the backing sheet, said generator comprising an electric motor having an unbalanced weight connected to its shaft, supporting blocks and a pair of resilient pads disposed on opposed sides of the motor, said pads being interposed between the motor and blocks and said blocks being contoured to partially embrace the motor, a cup-like casing in which the blocks, pads, and motor are positioned with one of said blocks disposed on the bottom of the casing, and means securing the open end of the casing to said opposite side of the backing sheet and simultaneously compressing the pads to retain said motor in position.

6. A therapeutic exercise table comprising a relatively stationary frame including horizontal end and side rails, an articulated top for the frame having at least three sections, each section being padded on its upper surface, pivots extending between the side rails and said middle section to provide a support therefor about which the section may oscillate, hinge members at the ends of the middle section connecting said middle section to the adjacent sections, said hinges being so laid that the adjacent sections may pivot in opposite directions with respect to the middle section, said frame providing supporting means for the end sections in both horizontal and in65 clined positions thereof, the moments of the sections being such as to provide a force couple about said middle section pivots inducing said sections to seek a position of horizontal alignment, periodic vibration generators mounted on the under sides of at least two sections, said generators comprising resiliently supported electric motors having dynamically unbalanced rotors, switches for connecting the motors to a source of electricity, and current control rheostats in the motor circuits to regulate the amount of current so supplied and thereby bring the vibratory impulses generated by the motors into substantial synchronism.


REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the file of this patent: UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 1,567,818 Stebbins --------- Dec. 29, 1925 5 2,014,508 Pupier ------------ Sept. 17, 1935 2,104,745 Howell ---------Jan. 11, 1938 2,211,542 Howell ------------Aug. 13, 1940 2,303,433 Caldwell ------------ Dec. 1, 1942