Field of Search:
What I claim is
1. A folding footrest for a foldable wheelchair having a foldable frame structure hinged about axes lying within a vertical plane extending longitudinally through the chair enabling the chair to be folded laterally between an open supportive condition and a closed storage condition, and a plurality of ground supported wheels mounted to the frame structure; the footrest comprising:
2. The foldable footrest defined in claim 1 wherein the mounting means includes adjusting means facilitating selective forward and rearward movement of the footrest relative to the frame structure.
3. The foldable footrest defined in claim 1 further including upright stationary bar abutment surfaces positioned laterally between the upright bars so they abut the bars when in the open condition to prevent lateral outward pivotal movement of the footrest plates.
4. A folding footrest for a foldable wheelchair having a foldable frame structure mounting a plurality of ground-supported wheels including laterally spaced side frames comprised of upright and longitudinal frame members hinged about axes lying within a vertical plane extending longitudinally through the chair and laterally foldable between an open supportive condition and a closed storage condition, the folding footrest comprising:
5. The folding footrest defined in claim 4 wherein the mounting means includes adjusting means for facilitating selective forward and rearward movement of the folding footrest along the opposed sections of the longitudinal frame members relative to the frame structure.
6. The folding footrest defined in claim 4 wherein the adjusting means comprises clamps located at lateral outside ends of the crossbar including clamp plates having longitudinal recesses formed therein which are complementary to similar recesses formed within the outside ends of the crossbar, said recesses together being complementary in cross section to the opposed sections of the longitudinal frame members, to receive the frame members therein; and means for selectively adjusting frictional engagement between the frame members and clamps to allow the footrest to slide longitudinally along the opposed sections and pivot thereon about longitudinal clamp axes in response to folding of the wheelchair.
7. The foldable footrest defined in claim 4 further including upright stationary bar abutment surfaces positioned laterally between the upright bars so they abut the bars when in the open condition to prevent lateral outward pivotal movement of the footrest plates.
8. A folding footrest for a foldable wheelchair having a foldable frame structure mounting laterally spaced rearward drive wheels and laterally spaced forward guiding caster wheels for free rotation about horizontal axes with said forward caster wheels also being mounted to the frame structure for free pivotal movement in circular paths about fixed vertical axes;
9. The foldable footrest defined in claim 8 wherein the mounting means includes adjusting means facilitating selective forward and rearward movement of the footrest relative to the frame structure.
10. The foldable footrest defined in claim 9 further including upright stationary bar abutment surfaces positioned laterally between the upright bars so they abut the bars when in the open condition to prevent lateral outward pivotal movement of the footrest plates.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates broadly to the field of wheelchair modifications and more specifically to folding footrests for the same.
It has often been desirable for an invalid confined to a wheelchair to obtain a wheelchair having a footrest thereon for supporting the weight of his legs above the ground. The need for such a footrest has been realized by the provision on foldable wheelchairs of permanent or movable footrests mounted to the wheelchair frame and protruding forwardly from the seat. Although these devices solve the problem of supporting the user's feet, they create another problem by hampering maneuverability of the chair through confined quarters and further present a rather bulky protrusion forward of the seat in the folded storage condition of the wheelchair. Removable footrests have solved the above problem to a limited degree since by their removal the chair is made compact for maneuverability or for storage. An additional problem remains, though of what to do with the loose footrests once removed. It has also been found a rather tedious chore to constantly assemble and disassemble removable footrests each time more maneuverability or compactness is required.
The above difficulties are realized to a limited degree by the Jacobs U.S. Pat. No. 2,133,540 titled, "Collapsible Chair for Invalids." Jacobs discloses a wheelchair having a permanent foldable footrest mounted thereto. The footrest is foldable in response to the folding of the remainder of the wheelchair. It extends laterally between side frames of the wheelchair and is pivotably mounted at each lateral end directly to the side frames. The hinges supporting the lateral ends of the footrest on the side frames allow it to be folded upwardly but will not allow longitudinal movement of the footrest with respect to the remainder of the chair.
Other prior patents granted to Johnson et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,054,638; Cosper, U.S. Pat. No. 2,665,743; and Pivacek, U.S. Pat. No. 3,249,389 all disclose wheelchairs having separate footrest plates swingable about the axis of a forwardly extending bar. Thus the footrests remain protruding forwardly of the chair in the folded condition of the chair.
Another patent granted to Heriford, U.S. Pat. No. 3,107,105 discloses a standing support for paraplegics which includes an integral support that supports the entire weight of the user and which folds laterally along a central longitudinal hinge axis.
An additional patent granted to Pivacek U.S. Pat. No. 3,185,527 describes a swinging footrest that includes footrest plates pivotally mounted to forwardly projecting bars. The bars are attached to the wheelchair frame for pivotal movement about a vertical axis so the footrest plates may be pivoted laterally outward with respect to the frame. Although such pivotal characteristics allow additional frontal clearance for the wheelchair over the above-cited art, once they are swung to the outside the overall width of the chair is considerably increased to further hamper maneuverability. The patient then has no rest for the foot.
The apparatus of the present invention comprises a folding footrest which may be permanently mounted to a wheelchair. It folds with the chair between an open supportive position and a closed storage position. The footrest is mounted to the wheelchair frame in such a manner that it may be moved longitudinally with respect to the chair to protrude forwardly of the chair while in use, or be retracted within the chair frame for greater maneuverability in close quarters, for compactness in storage, or for better fitting to the best position of the feet of the invalid. The footrest is operative at all times for the patient.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A folding footrest is described for foldable wheelchairs having a foldable frame structure that is hinged about axes lying within a vertical plane passing longitudinally through the chair. The footrest comprises mounting means operatively connecting the footrest to the frame structure for folding the footrest in response to folding of the chair. Upright bars depend from the mounting means and are hinged thereto about axes equally spaced for and on opposite sides of the vertical plane. Footrest plates are pivotally mounted to the upright bars and extend forwardly therefrom. The plates are hinged together along their inside edges for folding pivotal movement about an axis lying within the vertical plane. Abutment surfaces are formed along the inside edges of the footrest plates so that in the open condition of the footrest the surfaces abut one another.
It is a first object of my invention to provide a foldable footrest that may be permanently mounted to conventional folding wheelchairs.
It is an additional object of my invention to provide such a folding footrest that may be longitudinally adjusted with respect to the wheelchair to facilitate greater frontal clearance of the wheelchair in both the storage and operative conditions.
A yet further object of my invention is to provide such a folding footrest that is relatively simple in construction and thereby easy to operate.
Another object of my invention is to provide such a folding footrest that allows pivotal clearance for front caster wheels of a conventional wheelchair.
These and further objects and advantages will become evident upon reading the following description, which, taken with the accompanying drawings, describes a preferred form of my invention.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a conventional wheelchair with the folding footrest mounted thereto;
FIG. 2 is a front view of the wheelchair shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a front view similar to FIG. 2 showing the chair in a partially folded condition;
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4--4 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a plan view of the folding footrest;
FIG. 6 is a side view of the footrest;
FIG. 7 is an opposite side view of the footrest;
FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the footrest;
FIG. 9 is an elevational front view of the footrest; and
FIG. 10 is a sectional view taken along line 10--10 in FIG. 9.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
The folding footrest comprising a preferred form of my invention is illustrated in the attached drawings and is indicated generally by the reference numeral 10. Footrest 10 is mounted on a conventional folding wheelchair 11. Wheelchair 11 is shown as an example of several different styles of foldable wheelchairs. The wheelchair 11 shown in the drawings comprises a foldable frame structure 12 which facilitates lateral folding of the chair about axes lying along a vertical plane X--X between an open supportive position as shown in FIG. 2, and a closed storage condition. The partially folded chair is shown in FIG. 3.
The chair 11 comprises rear drive wheels 13 rotatably mounted to side frames 15. The side frames 15 also have forward caster wheels 14 supporting the frames and spaced forwardly of the rear drive wheels 13 and mounted to the side frames 15 for free pivotal movement about vertical axes as well as horizontal rotational movement. Partial rotation of one front caster wheel is shown in FIG. 2 by dotted lines.
Each of the side frames 15 include upright frame members 16, one of which rotatably mounts a rear drive wheel 13 and the other, mounts a forward caster wheel 14. Longitudinal frame members 17 are also provided. Two opposed sections 18 of the longitudinal frame members are utilized to movably mount the footrest 10. The opposed sections 18 may best be seen in FIGS. 1, 4 and in FIG. 8 as designated by dashed lines.
The footrest 10 includes mounting means 25 which serves to movably mount the footrest to the opposed sections 18 of the longitudinal frame members 17. The mounting means comprises a transverse crossbar 26 which includes two laterally aligned hinged sections 28. The hinged sections 28 extend laterally inward from the opposed sections 18 to inside edges aligned along the vertical folding plane X--X which passes through the wheelchair. The inside ends of sections 28 are hinged together by means of a crossbar hinge 27. The longitudinal axis of the hinge lies within the vertical folding plane X--X.
The mounting means further comprises adjusting means 30 which serves to mount the crossbar for sliding movement along the opposed sections 18. Adjusting means is provided to enable selective longitudinal movement of the footrest along the frame members 18. It is basically comprised of a pair of frictional clamps 32 located at opposed outside ends of hinge sections 28. Clamps 32 include outer bottom end surfaces 28a of sections 28, through which longitudinal recesses 31 (FIG. 9) are formed. A pair of clamp plates 33 are releasably mounted to end surfaces 28a. Plates 33 also include longitudinal recesses 31a that are matched to recesses 31. Together, recesses 31a and 31 form single openings between sections 28 and plates 33 that are complementary to the peripheral configuration of frame members 18. The recess surfaces are frictionally held against the opposed frame sections 18 by means of bolts 35 (FIGS. 5-8) which may be selectively adjusted to increase or decrease the frictional force applied by the recess surfaces against members 18. When properly adjusted, the clamps 32 facilitate longitudinal movement of the footrest 10 along the opposed sections 18 as shown by the directional arrows in FIG. 4. Also shown in FIG. 4 is a stop in the form of a small protrusion 19 on each of the opposed sections 18 which prevent binding of the clamps if they are moved too far rearwardly into the downwardly curved portion shown in FIG. 4.
As may be noted in FIG. 9, the hinge 27 for crossbar 26 is located on the bottom side of the crossbar with oppositely facing abutment surfaces 36 spaced directly above. The abutment surfaces 36 are aligned with the vertical plane X--X in the open operative condition of the footrest as shown in FIGS. 2 and 9. In this condition, the abutment surfaces prevent downward pivotal movement of the laterally hinged sections 28 past a relatively horizontal orientation.
Two laterally spaced upright bars 40 are hinged to the crossbar 26 and depend vertically downward therefrom. The upright bars 40 are pivotally connected to the crossbar 26 by hinges 41 which allow pivotal movement of the upright bars about parallel axes equally spaced from the vertical plane X--X. The upright bar hinge axes are also parallel to the hinge axis of the crossbar 26. The upright bars are prevented from swinging laterally in the open condition of the footrest by means of inside abutment surfaces 42 as best seen in FIG. 9. The abutment surfaces 42 are spaced inwardly of the upright bars 40 to engage the bars with the footrest 10 in an open supportive condition.
The upright bars 40 pivotably mount footrest plates 43 which extend forwardly from the bars and laterally inward where they are hinged about an axis lying on the vertical folding plane X--X. The footrest plates are mounted to the upright bars by means of elongated pivot bolts 44 which are shown in detail in FIG. 10. The footrest plates extend laterally inward from the elongated bolts 44 to inside edges 45. The plates 43 are hinged along the inside edges 45 by a hinge 46 having a hinge axis parallel to the remaining hinge axes described above. The inside edges 45 also form abutment surfaces above the hinge 46 which prevent downward pivotal movement of the footrest plates past a relatively horizontal position as shown in FIGS. 2 and 9 with the footrest 10 in the open supportive condition.
The footrest plates 43 include outside longitudinal edges 48 which are laterally spaced apart equally from the folding plane X--X a distance sufficient to allow clearance for the pivotal path of the front caster wheels 14 as they pivot about their vertical axes as demonstrated in FIG. 2 by dashed lines. This feature allows complete pivotal freedom for the two front caster wheels 14 and thereby does not in any manner hamper maneuverability of the wheelchair.
It may be noted from FIG. 9 that the hinge axes of the crossbar hinge 27 and the footrest plate hinge 46 are spaced slightly elevationally below their corresponding lateral pivot points defined respectively by the longitudinal axes of the opposed sections 18 and the axes of the elongated bolts 44. With this arrangement, a slight overcenter condition is realized in the open position of the footrest. Thus, to position the footrest in the open condition, the user must exert a small downward force against the upper surface of the crossbar 26 to bring the hinge downwardly past a dead center position. Once past this position however, the footrest not only provides somewhat rigid support for the users feet and legs, but also adds lateral rigidity to the wheelchair frame structure 12. To move the footrest to a closed storage position, the user then lifts upwardly along the vertical plane from below the crossbar 26 to break the joint formed in the open condition. The joint formed along the inside edges 45 of the footrest plates 43 must also be broken by a slight upward pressure against the plates 43 along the vertical fold plane X--X.
It may become evident from the above description and the attached drawings that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. Therefore, only the following claims are to be taken as definitions of this invention .