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Priority is claimed of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/546,562, filed Feb. 20, 2004, which his hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to medical tables, such as mobile surgical tables, x-ray imaging tables, etc. More particularly, the present invention relates to medical equipment handling devices to facilitate movement of the medical equipment or tables.
2. Related Art
Medical equipment, such as mobile surgical tables and x-ray imaging tables, is often moved or transported within operating rooms, x-ray rooms, or moved between respective rooms. Such tables are typically not provided with handles or the like because such handles can interfere with surgical personnel or equipment, x-ray personnel or equipment, or the surgical or x-ray process itself. Due to this fact, while such tables are often designed to be moved, personnel charged with moving the tables about must often bend or twist in ergonomically compromising positions to move the tables. This feature can be further exacerbated in that such tables are often varied in height, so that an operator may have to stoop to a further or lesser degree when moving one table or another.
In addition to the health problems faced by medical personnel attempting to move medical tables provided without handles, many medical tables are formed from relatively expensive materials that may be susceptible to damage if inadvertently steered into contact with equipment or walls. This aspect is of particular concern with medical tables that are designed for use in imaging procedures, as such tables are often formed of sophisticated and expensive materials designed to interfere as little as possible in the imaging procedure.
It has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a medical table handling device that can be used to manipulate medical tables not provided with handles, and that can be easily and quickly attached and removed from medical tables so as not to interfere with medical procedures or imaging equipment.
Briefly, and in general terms, the invention is directed to a medical table handling device, including a handle, configured to be grasped by a user to manipulate the medical table and a pair of opposite clamps, coupled on opposing ends of the handle. Each clamp can have a slot configured to receive one of a pair of lateral rails of the medical table therein. Means for securing each of the pair of clamps to one of the lateral rails can also be provided.
In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a medical table handling device is provided, including a handle configured to be grasped by a user to manipulate the medical table. A pair of opposite clamps can be coupled on opposing ends of the handle, each clamp having a slot being configured to receive one of a pair of lateral rails of the medical table therein. A pair of knobs can each have a threaded stud disposed through a wall of each clamp. The stud can rotatably engage a frictional platen disposed within each slot with the frictional platen being frictionally engageable with the lateral rails to secure the lateral rails within the slots. The handle can be pivotally coupled to the clamps and can be fixable at a plurality of discrete angles with respect to the clamps. A pin can be selectively disposable in one of a plurality of holes, the pin being slidably disposed on one of the handle or the clamp, and the holes being formed in the other of the handle or clamp.
In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a method for manipulating a wheeled medical table having lateral rails is provided, comprising the steps of: releasably securing a pair of opposite clamps to the lateral rails of the wheeled medical table; grasping a handle coupled to each of the pair of opposite clamps; and exerting a force on the handle to manipulate the wheeled medical table.
Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention; and, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a partially sectioned front view of a medical table handling device in accordance with one aspect of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the medical table handling device of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an end view of the handling device of FIG. 1, as viewed from the left side of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a partially section, opposite end view of the handling device of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a partially exploded view of the handling device of FIG. 1;
FIG. 6 is a partial perspective view of the handling device of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 7 is a partial front view of the end section of FIG. 6, shown attached to a section of a medical table.
Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended.
As illustrated generally at 10 in FIG. 1, the present invention provides a medical table handling device for use as an interface between various medical tables and users or movers of the medical tables. In one embodiment of the invention, the handling device can be removably and adjustably coupled to a medical table (15 in FIG. 7) to aid in manipulating and moving the medical table.
As used herein, the term “medical table” is to be understood to refer to a generally movable piece of medical equipment, such as an operating table or an imaging or x-ray table. The term “table” is used in its broad sense of including a variety of platforms, beds, etc., for use in holding medical patients and/or equipment and can be used as stand-alone equipment or in connection with more complete medical systems, such as “CAT” Scan systems, MRI system, x-ray system, etc.
The various components of the handling device can be formed from a variety of materials, including in one embodiment an aluminum alloy that can be easily cleaned and provides an attractive finish, such as anodizing. As the handle is generally removable from the medical table, the handle can be formed from metallic materials which might otherwise interfere with imaging procedures. Thus, the material from which the handle is formed can be selected without consideration of the end use of the medical table with which the handle will be used.
Many such medical tables are often not provided with handles due to the varying and complex procedures in which they are used. Such tables are often moved into and around a variety of other medical equipment. For this reason, typical medical tables with which the handling device can be used are often provided with a pair of lateral rails but without any handle. The present invention can advantageously be used to provide a removable, adjustable handle for such medical tables.
As shown in FIG. 1, in one aspect of the invention, the handling device 10 can include a handle 12 which can be configured to be grasped by a user to manipulate the medical table. The handle 12 can be substantially horizontal or oriented horizontally to facilitate being grasped by the user. Each of a pair of opposite clamps 14a, 14b can be coupled on opposing or opposite end sections 12a, 12b of the handle. The end sections 12a, 12b of the handle 12 can be vertically oriented, or oriented at an incline with respect to horizontal, so that the end sections extend between the clamps 14a, 14b and the handle 12 and so that the handle can be elevated so that the user does not have to bend to use the handle. Each clamp can have a slot 16a, 16b, respectively, which can each be configured to receive one of a pair of lateral rails (one rail 18 shown in FIG. 7) of the medical table (15 in FIG. 7) therein.
The handling device 10 can also include means for securing each of the pair of clamps 14a, 14b to one of the lateral rails (18 in FIG. 7). In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the means for securing can include a knob 22b having a threaded stud (23b in FIG. 5) disposed through a wall and threaded aperture of the clamp 14b. The stud can rotatably engage a frictional platen 26b disposed within the slot 16b. The frictional platen can be frictionally engageable with the lateral rails to secure the lateral rails within the slots, as shown in FIG. 7. In operation, the slots of each clamp can be inserted over the rails and the position of the handling device can be adjusted as desired along a longitudinal axis of the table. Once located in the desired position, the knobs can be turned to force the threaded studs to bias the frictional platen against the lateral rails until the force of the frictional platen secures the clamp against the lateral rail, and thus stationary relative to the table. While the means for securing has been described above with respect to one side of the handling device 10, it is of course understood that the other side can have a similar knob 22a with a threaded stud and frictional platen.
While the means for securing is shown in the figures as including knobs 22a, 22b and accompanying threaded rods 23a, 23b and frictional platens 26a, 26b, it is to be understood that the means for securing can include a variety of configurations, including pinned connections (not shown), latching mechanisms (not shown), etc.
The medical table handling device 10 of the present invention can be provided with a handle 12 that includes an adjustable width (w in FIG. 2). In this manner, the handling device can be interchangeably utilized with a variety of different tables having varying widths. It will be appreciated that medical personnel may be faced with manipulating a variety of “handle-less” medical tables over a particular period of time, with each of the tables having a different width. The present invention can advantageously be used to provide a handling device for such a variety of tables to provide the operators with a consistent, adjustable interface for manipulating the tables.
The width w of the handle can vary, and in one embodiment is adjustable from between about 19.5 inches to about 32 inches. It has been found that such a range of adjustment provides use with medical tables used in most medical treatment processes. The variable width of the handle can be provided in a number of manners, and in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 includes a telescoping handle having an inner rod 24 which can be slidably receivable in one or more outer tubes 26a and 26b. In the embodiment shown, each of the end sections 12a, 12b or the handle 12 includes outer tubes 26a, 26b, respectively, which slide over the inner rod 24. In this manner, each of the end sections is adjustable inwardly and outwardly with respect to the inner rod. The outer tubes can be disposed on the ends to form an area to be grasped by the user. While the embodiments shown include outer tubes on the end sections of the handle, it is to be understood that the outer tube can be disposed in the center of the handle with the inner rods extending outwardly from the end sections thereof.
FIG. 5 illustrates features of the handling device 10 that provide adjustability to the handle 12. In this aspect, a biasing element 30 can be operably disposed between the inner rod 24 and the outer tube 26b. For example, a spring can be disposed in the outer tube, and compressible as the inner rod moves into the outer tube, and biasing the inner rod out of the outer tube. Various bushings, spacers, washers, locking rings, etc. (shown collectively at 32) can be utilized to retain the biasing element, inner rod and outer tube while allowing relative movement of the rod and tube with respect to each other. In particular, bushing 31b can be retained so as to reside at or near the opening of outer tube 26b to restrict foreign debris from entering the outer tube and potentially adversely affecting smooth operation of the rod within the outer tube. (Note biasing element 30 and bushing 31 are also shown in sectioned view in FIG. 1).
The biasing element 30 can bias the adjustable handle 12 in one direction or another to aid in adjusting the width of the handle relative to a medical table. In the embodiment shown, the biasing element is biased outwardly with respect to the rod 24 and tube 26b. That is, the biasing element tends to extend the rod and tube to maximum deflection. In this aspect, the biasing element generally remains in compression when the handle is at maximum width adjustment. Of course, the biasing element can also be provided in a tensioned state, to bias the handle toward minimum adjustment. In addition, the handling device can be provided without a biasing element.
In addition to providing a handling device that is adjustable in width, the present invention also provides a handling device that is pivotal with respect to the medical table with which it is used. Thus, the handle 12 can be adjustable with respect to elevational height. As perhaps best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the handle 12 can be pivotal with respect to each clamp 14a, 14b, as shown by arrow 40. In the aspect shown, the handle 12 (e.g., each end section 12a, 12b of the handle) pivots about pinned connector 44 through a variety of angles. Slot 46 can be formed in clamp 14a to serve as a guide for pin 48 extending from handle end section 12a to provide a consistent path of rotational travel about the pinned connector.
The handle end sections 12a, 12b can be fixed relative to the clamps 14a, 14b at a variety of angles and in a variety of manners. In one aspect of the invention, the handling device can include means for selectively fixing an angle (α in FIG. 3) between the handle and at least one of the clamps at a plurality of discrete angles. In one aspect of the invention, the means for fixing the angle α can include a pin 50 selectively disposable in one of a plurality of indentations or holes 52. The pin 50 can be slidably disposed on one of the handle or the clamp, and in the embodiment shown in sectional view in FIG. 4 the pin 50 is slidably disposed within the end section 12b of the handling device. The indentations 52 can be formed in the other of the handle or the clamp, and in the embodiment shown are formed in the clamp 14b.
The discrete angles at which the handle end sections 12a, 12b can be fixed relative to the clamps 14a, 14b can vary according to the desired applications, and in one embodiment the angles are fixed at about 0, 45 and 90 degrees. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the angles are fixed by locating a plurality of indentations or holes 52 at various positions about pinned connector 44. Also shown in sectional view in FIG. 4 is biasing element 60 which can serve to bias pin 50 within or against the indentations 52 to maintain the fixed angle between the handle and the clamps. Release knob 62, shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, can be operably coupled to the pin 50 to allow the pin 50 to be forced counter to the biasing direction of the biasing element 60 to withdraw the pin 50 from a particular indentation 52 to allow adjustment to another fixed angle α.
As shown in FIG. 6, the handle section 12a can be pivotal with respect to the clamp 14a about an axis 66 that is substantially perpendicular to a plane 68 defined by the slot 16a. In this manner the handle 12 is maintained substantially parallel to the bed (not shown) of the table throughout its rotation relative to the clamps. The handle thus provides a continually horizontal interface for the personnel regardless of the angle of adjustment relative to the clamps.
By allowing an angle between the handle end sections 12a, 12b to be adjusted relative to the clamps 14a, 14b, respectively, the position of the handle 12 relative to the table 15 can be adjusted for best use in a particular application. Thus, after attaching the handle to the table, medical personnel can adjust the height of the handle relative to the table. In this manner, the medical technician can easily customize installation of the handle to provide optimum orientation of the handle for manipulating the table while also providing the best ergonomic orientation of the handle for the job at hand. The present invention thus provides the dual advantages of increasing the ease and accuracy with which medical tables can be manipulated, thereby decreasing inadvertent damage to expensive medical tables, and also decreases back strain and other dangerous stresses placed upon the medical personnel manipulating the table.
In addition to providing an optimal interface to allow medical personnel to more safely and accurately manipulate medical tables, the present invention also limits direct contact between medical personnel and medical tables. In this manner, contamination of the medical table by the personnel is also limited leading to increased infection control.
In addition to the structural aspects of the handling device 10 discussed above, the present invention also provides a method for manipulating a wheeled medical table having lateral rails, comprising the steps of: releasably securing a pair of opposite clamps to the lateral rails of the wheeled medical table; grasping a handle coupled to each of the pair of opposite clamps; and exerting a force on the handle to manipulate the wheeled medical table. In this aspect of the invention, the wheeled medical table can be selected from the group consisting of: a mobile surgical table and a mobile x-ray imaging table.
The method can include the further step of adjusting a lateral width of the handle to correspond to a distance between the lateral rails. The step of adjusting a lateral width of the handle can include the step of sliding an inner rod within an outer tube. The step of adjusting the lateral width of the handle can also include the step of adjusting the width from between about 19.5 inches to about 32 inches.
The method can also include the further step of adjusting an angle between the handle and the clamps attached to the lateral rails of the wheeled medical table. The step of adjusting the angle between the handle and the clamps can include the step of fixing the handle at discrete angles with respect to the clamps. The discrete angles can be selected from the group consisting of angles of about 0, 45 and 90 degrees.
The method can also include the further step of removing the handle from the wheeled table by removing the opposite clamps from the lateral rails of the table after manipulating the wheeled table. The handle can be reattached to the same table, or attached to a different table. The different table can have a different width.
The method can also include the further step of adjusting an elevational height of the handle by adjusting an angle between the wheeled table and the clamps.
While the forgoing examples are illustrative of the principles of the present invention in one or more particular applications, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications in form, usage and details of implementation can be made without the exercise of inventive faculty, and without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the claims set forth below.