United States Patent 3795243

A traction device is supported on padded cross members across the upper chest and back connected by arches over the shoulders. An inverted U-shaped assembly is secured to the arches at one end and extends to its transverse crosspiece above and closely spaced from the head. A sling support member is pendantly secured to the center of the crosspiece by means including a swivel. A sling is secured to either end of its support and includes a first flexible member passing beneath the chin and a second flexible member passing behind the head adjacent the nape of the neck. The inverted U-shaped assembly includes telescoping, substantially vertical members at either side with adjustable spring means for biasing the crosspiece upward and the swiveled connection to the sling support includes screw-and-nut means for varying the upward bias of the base portion. The connection of the ends of the U-shaped assembly to the arches may include means for adjustably inclining the assembly forwardly or backwardly.

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International Classes:
A61F5/055; (IPC1-7): A61H1/02
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Primary Examiner:
Gaudet, Richard A.
Assistant Examiner:
Yasko J.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bruns, And Jenney
I claim

1. A traction device for supporting the head of an ambulatory patient having cervical problems, comprising: a torso-contacting portion having a padded chest contacting bar and a padded back contacting bar connected at each side by an over-the-shoulder arch member, an inverted U-shaped assembly having a leg at each side connected at the bottom to a respective arch member, the upper ends of the legs being connected by a crosspiece adapted to be narrowly spaced above the head, a transverse sling support bar pendantly supported from the center of the crosspiece, an eyebolt having its eye around the support rod and its threaded shank extending through a hole in the crosspiece, a nut and locknut adjustably securing the eyebolt in place, a sling including an under-the-chin pad and a back-of-the-neck pad pendantly supported at each side from the respective ends of the support rod, each leg of the U-shaped assembly including a rod portion secured to an arch member and a tube portion connected to the crosspiece, the tube portion having an enlarged shield tube secured to the lower end thereof, the rod portion being telescopically received in the tube portion, a coil spring within the shield tube and around the rod portion, and a pressure tube around the rod portion having its upper end adapted to engage and compress the spring against the lower end of the tube portion, the lower end of the pressure tube being secured to a collar adapted to be adjustably secured to the rod portion for adjusting the compression of the spring.

2. The traction device defined in claim 1 wherein the sling comprises tubular pads of soft flexible material supported from the support rod at each side by a cord looped around the support rod and passing successively through the tubular pads in a continuous loop having its ends secured together adjacent the support rod.

3. The traction device defined in claim 1 wherein the rod portion of each leg of the U-shaped assembly comprises a lower portion secured to an arch member and having a disk portion at its upper end, the disk portion having a serrated face facing the serrated face of a similar disk portion at the lower end of an upper rod portion telescopically received in the tube portion of the leg, a screw extending transversely and axially through a hole in the disk portions, and a wing nut cooperating with the screw for forcing the serrated surfaces of the disk portions together, whereby the forward and back inclination of each leg may be adjusted.


This invention relates to an improved traction device for spring-biasing the head upward for patients having problems with the neck or upper spine and who are ambulatory.

Most prior art neck sling devices bias the head upward by rigid-type traction means such as buckled straps, or hold the head immobile, or have bulky and hard-to-adjust body contacting portions. Such traction devices which employ springs have tension springs between a head supporting sling and a cross member above the head resulting in a device rising so far above the head as to interfere with the mobility of the patient and denying him the use of vehicles such as automobiles. Such a device is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,642,864 to Ward, issued in 1953.

The principal object of the present invention is to employ compression springs in combination with substantially vertically extending telescoping means at either side of the head for obtaining a lowered overall height of the device

A further object is to provide swivel means between a head supporting sling and the top cross member of the device allowing limited turning of the head and including nut and screw means in the same connection for temporarily varying the upward bias of the springs.

A still further object is to provide a chest and back contacting support for the device which holds the device erect with minimal variations in height caused by breathing.


The device of the invention employs transversely extending padded bars across the back and upper chest of the patient for a stable support to the device. Front and back bars are connected by arch members over the shoulders.

Extending upward from the arch members is an inverted U-shaped assembly with its base portion or cross piece extending across above the patient's head. At each side, the assembly includes a vertically extending rod secured to a respective arch member. A pressure tube surrounds each rod and is slideable thereon, the lower end of the pressure tube being secured to a collar with means for locking it to the rod.

The pressure tube is also slideable up into an enlarged shield tube secured to the lower end of a support tube of lesser diameter than the shield tube. The support tube extends up to the cross piece or base of the assembly and telescopically receives the upper end if the arch supported rod.

Within each shield tube a compression coil spring is contained surrounding the rod. The end of each support tube extends down into the shield tube and its end forms an abutment for the upper end of the spring whose lower end is compressed by moving the pressure tube and its locking collar upward.

Pendantly supported from the upward biased cross piece is a transversely extending sling support. This support connection comprises an eyebolt having its eye around the sling support and its shank extending through a hold through the cross piece, the shank being threaded and having a nut and lock nut thereon for adjustably securing the eyebolt shank. This provides a swivel connection to the sling support and means for varying the upward bias of the springs without readjusting both pressure tubes.

The sling support is notched at either end and the sling has a continuous loop of cord at each side of the head contained at the top in the notch. Each loop passes through a tubular pad under the chin and another tubular pad at the back of the head, the pads being of a soft fabric material.

For patients requiring the head to be supported inclined forwardly or rearwardly, the connection between the vertically extending rods of the U-shaped assembly and the arch members may include a well known device for angular adjustment. Each rod is made in two parts, each part including a serrated disk, the serrated surfaces of the disk being in engagement. A bolt extends axially through the disks and a wing nut is provided for holding the serrated surfaces in engagement at the desired angle.


FIG. 1 is a front view,

FIG. 2 is a back view, and

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of a device embodying the invention, the head and shoulders of a patient being indicated in broken lines;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged, fragmentary, side elevational view of one side of the device of FIG. 3, showing the adjustable spring-biasing portion of the device during use; and

FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4, showing a modified embodiment having adjustable angle regulating means.


Referring to FIGS. 1-3, the traction device 10 comprises a torso-contacting or support portion 11, an inverted U-shaped biasing assembly 12, a sling-support bar 13, and a sling portion 14.

The support portion 11 includes a transversely extending padded front bar 15 adapted to contact and conform to the upper chest of the patient and a transversely extending padded back bar 16 adapted to contact and conform to the upper back of the patient. The front and back bars are secured together by arch members 17 over each shoulder, the arch members being secured to the bars by rivets or otherwise. Each arch member 17 has secured thereto an L-shaped bracket 18 and padding is shown at 19.

The lower ends of the inverted U-shaped assembly comprise rods 20 having lower threaded ends secured in an appropriate hole in the L-shaped bracket 18 on each arch member by the nuts 21. The rods 20 extend upward and are telescopically received in the tubular upper portions 22 of the legs of the inverted U-shaped assembly 12, as best seen in FIG. 4.

Slideably mounted on the lower end of each rod 20 is a pressure tube 23 and the lower end of each tube 23 has secured thereto an annular locking collar 24 having an allen-head screw 25 adapted for locking tube 23 to rod 20, as shown in FIG. 1. As best seen in FIG. 4, each tube 22 has an enlarged shield tube 26 secured, as by welding, to the lower end thereof. Tube 22 extends down within shield tube 26 forming a shoulder engaged by one end of a coil spring 27 compressed upward by the end of pressure tube 23 which fits telescopically in the shield tube, as shown, when the device is worn. The pressure tube 23 may have scale markings 23a thereon for indicating pressure.

A crosspiece 28 forming the base of the inverted U-shaped assembly is secured at either end, as by welding, to the upper end of a respective tube 22. Crosspiece 28 is preferably inclined at either side upwardly toward its enlarged center portion 29, conforming to the bent shape of the sling support 13.

A swiveled and vertically adjustable connection between crosspiece 28 and sling support 13 is provided by an eyebolt 30 whose eye is around the sling support whose upward bend at its center is sufficient to secure the eyebolt at the center of the sling support. The threaded shank of eyebolt 30 passes up through the center portion 29 of the crosspiece and a nut 31 and locknut 32 provide means for varying the bias of springs 27 without adjusting the compression of the springs at the screws of both locking collars 24.

Each end of sling support 13 is provided with an upwardly opening notch, not shown, for securing therein a respective sling cord 33 at each side of the head. Each sling cord 33 may form a continuous loop but is preferably knotted at 34 for forming a separate smaller loop which fits in the notch of the end of the sling support as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The looped sling cord passes through the end of a chin pad 35 and a neck pad 36, the pads being furnished in tubular form and fashioned from a soft textile material, as shown in FIG. 3.

As shown in FIG. 5, when the patient's condition requires that his head be supported inclined forwardly or rearwardly from the vertical, means are provided for adjusting the angle at which rods 20 extend upwardly from the strap 18. Rod 20a, secured to the strap by nuts 21, has a shortened shank and its upper portion 37 is formed in the shape of a disk having a serrated surface facing a similar serrated surface of a disk at 38 formed at the lower end of the upper portion 20b of the rod which extends up into the tube 22.

A bolt 39 extends axially through appropriate holes in the disks 37 and 38 and a cooperating wingnut 40 provides means for adjustably locking the disks together as is usual in such devices.

In operation, the traction device 10 has its support portion 11 shaped to conform to the torso of the patient. The patient may place the device on his shoulders and attach the sling portion 14 to his head and connect the loops 33 to the sling support 13. Then, using a suitable wrench, the pressure tubes 23 may be adjusted by reading the scale marks 23a on each pressure tube. Usually a total pressure of 4 to 5 pounds is required, one-half at each side, to carry the weight of the head and the scale marks 23a may each indicate an additional 1 pound on that side as the pressure tube 23 is moved upward with respect to the bottom of shield tube 26.

When additional pressure is required for a limited time as, for instance, when the patient is riding in a car, he may reach up and unlock nut 32, tighten nut 31 and relock the locknut 32.

If an angular adjustment of the assembly 12 is required, the adjustment of disks 37 and 38 is preferably made in conference between doctor and patient and the adjustment usually remains unchanged thereafter.

While the device 10 is usually worn only when the patient is ambulatory, it also may be worn by a bedridden patient.