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The present application claims priority of the provisional application having Ser. No. 60/577,038 filed on Jun. 07, 2004 entitled Vertical Pool.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to the field of spas and exercise pools and, more particularly, to a pool having multiple assembly sections for ease of transport and installation while providing sufficient vertical depth for standing exercise/therapy for the user in addition to recliner style spa jet hydrotherapy.
2. Description of the Related Art
Hydrotherapy and water buoyant exercise have been demonstrated to be highly effective for physically handicapped or elderly individuals as well as those who are healthy and fit. Exercise and therapy in a gentle-resistance medium, allowing for buoyancy, reduces imposed stress on muscles, joints and ligaments. Individuals with limited mobility due to physical handicaps or injury, especially those confined to seated or supine positions, are provided with improved blood flow to extremities, enhancement of healthy organ function and reduced muscle atrophy if such exercise/therapy can be provided in a standing/vertical position. Many individuals suffering from disabilities or afflictions are discouraged from using public facilities or lack access to such facilities.
It is therefore desirable to provide a pool/spa system that is adaptable to home or alternate location installation on a temporary or permanent basis.
It is further desirable that the pool/spa system provide sufficient depth for vertical or standing exercise by the user.
If is also further desirable that the design of the pool/spa system is modular for transport and installation to accommodate both the requirement for ease of installation and the desired vertical depth.
The present invention provides an exercise and therapy pool having a plurality of structural modules providing a tub bottom, an intermediate section connecting to and extending upwardly from the tub bottom and an upper section connecting to and extending upwardly from said intermediate section. The intermediate section additionally expands laterally from the tub bottom. The assembled modules provide a vertical depth sufficient for total vertical immersion of a user to the user's neck. The intermediate and upper section expand laterally sufficiently to accommodate the user in a horizontal swimming position. A removable liner for sealing the modules after assembly completes the pool. An equipment module is removably connected to the pool to provide water conditioning.
FIG. 1 is a top view of one embodiment of the vertical pool showing geometric arrangement and features of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side sectional view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1 showing additional elements and features of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a front section view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;
FIG. 4 is a rear partial section view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;
FIG. 5 shows an exemplary installation arrangement for the embodiment of the invention disclosed,
FIG. 6 is a detailed view of the edge coping on the sidewall of the pool in the disclosed embodiment;
FIG. 7 is a detailed section view of the joint connections employed for the pool structural elements;
FIG. 8 is a schematic of the overflow system and equipment module plumbing; and,
FIG. 9 is a partial end section view of the pool showing additional features.
The present invention provides a pool which conforms to the body size, arm span, length and reach of a large adult. The design allows one person to exercise vertically by treading water or do simple leg and arm movements while standing with buoyant support. In the embodiment shown in the drawings, a large adult can stand on the bottom of the pool with the water at neck level having adequate clearance for full arm motion to the side, front and rear. Additionally, the user is able to swim in place horizontally using a restricting belt attached tether. Spa features of the pool allow two adults to semi-recline in chaise seating for jet therapy to the shoulders, back and legs using fixed or flexible plug-in jets.
Referring to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a top view of a pool 10, providing a current embodiment of the invention, having a first deep or vertical portion 12 with an upper profile having a substantially semi-circular end 14 transitioning into a substantially rectangular mid-portion 16 and end portion 18. For certain embodiments, the walls are shaped with integrated curvature to enhance structural strength of the pool wall in the mid-portion. The end portion incorporates semi-reclining chaises 20 with an intermediate horizontal foot kick and entry area 22. An equipment module 24 interfaces an end wall of the end portion to encase spa operating systems, as will be described in greater detail subsequently, and provides entry steps 26. As shown in the top view of FIG. 1, the profile of the vertical portion of the pool transitions from the semi-circular horseshoe shape to a rectangular bottom to accommodate additional features to be described. This embodiment provides effective geometrical transition; however, alternative shaping is employed in alternative embodiments. The depth, shape and orientation of the pool elements inherently provides for full range of motion for the arms and legs of an adult in either a vertical or horizontal position in the pool and still allows for use of the pool as a conventional reclining spa with the chaise seating.
FIG. 2 provides additional geometric definition of the elements of the present embodiment while demonstrating the modular component composition of the invention. The vertical pool of the present invention is constructed as a multi-piece unit which incorporates sections that will individually fit through conventional residential doorways to allow access for installation of the pool in difficult locations such as lower levels and small back yards where a large one-piece unit could not be accommodated.
As shown, a bottom section tub 28 forms the lower portion of the vertical section. A middle section 30 provides geometrical transition from the bottom section tub and provides a substantially flat base 32 for the chaise seating and horizontal foot kick entry area in the end portion. For the embodiment shown, the middle section includes four elements as will be described in greater detail subsequently. A top section 34 is fitted over the middle section and incorporates a coping 36, described in greater detail with respect to FIG. 6, on which an insulated cover 38 is removably mountable.
Additionally, an adjustable trapeze 40 with supporting posts 42 is mounted into receiving ports 44 in the upper section to be positioned over the bottom section tub for attachment of support apparatus or to be grasped overhead by an occupant standing vertically in the pool. In alternative embodiments, the receiving ports are slotted to allow horizontal adjustment of the position of the trapeze posts for optimum use of the vertical depth and horizontal length of the pool in therapy treatment. The posts 42 are telescoping for height adjustment of the trapeze. The trapeze provides for attachment of lines to a vest or harness to support a user's weight in addition to the buoyancy provided by the water if desired. Further, anklets or booties with tethered lines engaged through pulleys affixed to the sidewalls of the pool allow the legs to be propelled in a walking style motion stimulating blood flow and reducing muscle atrophy. If accomplished by the user operating the tethers in the pool, simultaneous exercise of the arms and shoulders in a back and forth motion is provided. The trapeze bar allows additional exercise options through suspension in a harness with staggered loops in various locations about the body for multiple postures and positions.
For the embodiment shown, lift foot sleeves 46 are integrated into the middle section under the chaise seat elements to engage extended feet or support arms of a lifting device such as a Hoyer lift for use with disabled patients. The filled weight of the pool and upper section provide massive inertial support for the lift. An adjustable floor platform 48 is housed within the bottom section tub for adjustment to the user's height, as desired. In various embodiments, the floor platform is adjustable using an underlying scissor lift arrangement or vertically spaced step supports protruding from the walls of the tub. Alternatively, the floor platform is supported by four telescoping corner posts with a common central screw adjustment.
An overflow reservoir 50 is covered by or integral with one of the chaises to provide automatic level control for the pool depending on the number of occupants. The flow path and pumping are described subsequently with respect to FIG. 8. The space provided under the second chaise allows attachment of the equipment module and a control center for the pool operating systems or, in alternative embodiments, houses the equipment module. The identical sizing of the chambers provided by the chaises allows interchangeability of the chambers for the overflow reservoir and equipment module/control center depending on the particular site location for the pool.
FIGS. 3 and 4 show front and rear views, respectively, of the present embodiment demonstrating the geometrical configuration and transitions between the sections. The modular nature of the structural components of the pool allows sections prior to assembly that will individually fit through conventional residential doorways to access difficult locations such as lower levels and small back yards where a large one-piece unit could not be moved. For the embodiment shown, the modular elements do not exceed 90″ in length, 44″ in width and 30″ in height and can be nested for packaging and shipment within those dimensions. A pool with dimensions of 6′ across the flat base, 9′ from the semi-circular end to end wall with a total vertical depth of 6′ is created by the assembled elements. For the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, the upper section modules include two halves 34a and 34b of the radiused section with two straight sections 34c and 34d extending to the rear of the pool (34c shown in the section view of FIG. 2 and 34d opposite). A back plate 34e completes the upper section. The middle section incorporates four modules, a front section 30a, two side sections 30b and 30c (30c shown in the section view of FIG. 2 and 30b opposite) and an end section 30d.
FIG. 5 demonstrates one installation embodiment for the present invention. Mounting on the pool is accomplished on a sloping surface such as a hillside or associated with a second floor deck arrangement in a residence or building. The pool 10 is supported under the bottom section tub 28 by a vertical column 52 while the flat base 32 of the middle section rests upon a deck 54 or other horizontal structural feature. Entry to the pool is accomplished from the deck with appropriate safety elements such as a railing 56 extending from the building or residence structure 58.
The arrangement of the vertical pool structural elements allows one primary weight bearing support to be provided by the column with a stabilizing support for the non-symmetrical geometric extension of the pool. FIG. 5 depicts the pool supported on the column with the deck extending only under the flat base. In alternative embodiments, the deck structure extends around the entire pool for access by attendants, if required to support the user. Note that the deck is not required to support the entire filled weight of the pool as with most conventional spa arrangements thereby simplifying the structural requirements of the deck. While depicted as a column in the embodiment in FIG. 5, the support of the bottom section tub can be provided by a recessed subfloor or concrete pad.
The shape of the pool constructed from the modular components described proved for stable in-ground or in-floor installations with minimum displacement of soil to accommodate the tub and part of the middle section. The hole or clearance required is 5′ by 2′ at the top tapering to about 4′ by 2′ at the bottom by 3′ deep. The flat base sits on the ground or floor leaving 3′ above grade. The tapered sides and end of the invention in the embodiment shown allow for the foot room of a therapist/parent/guardian standing against the pool and reaching in to assist the user. The front of the therapist's upper thighs can then push against the pool for leverage assisting the user, buoyantly supported to his neck in the pool, without requiring the therapist to become wet.
The modular structural components of the pool are capped by a coping 36 as shown in FIG. 6. The top edge 60 of the top section elements is shaped to receive or be inserted into the coping to provide a sealed top surface. For the embodiment shown, the coping also provides the peripheral engagement for a single piece liner 62 for the inside of the pool. The liner precludes leaks from the pool and is removable for cleaning or replacement if punctured. Changeable liners allow patients with special medicinal needs to use additives, such as salt or other remedial medicaments without damaging the surfaces of the modular structural elements of the pool. After treatment, the liner can be replaced or cleaned and reinserted, and the pool restored to conventional use.
The coping incorporates a scalloped edge 64 which rolls nominal turbulence back into the pool without letting water splash out as in current spa designs. Additionally, the scalloped edge provides a means for retaining the insulated cover by providing a lip over the cover for restraint in normal wind conditions. The shape also allows rope lighting 66 to be mounted out of sight for illumination of the pool.
Structural interconnection and support of the modular components of the pool is accomplished using joints as disclosed in FIG. 7. Each horizontal seam between components incorporates an interlocking moiety 70 which includes a notched tongue 72 depending from the wall of the upper component 74 received by a notched cheek 76 extending from the lower component 78. A circumferential recess 80 receives a steel belt 82 as a tensioning component around the circumference of the joint for structural support and inward compression of the cheek to engage the tongue. The structure of the modular components for the pool is shown for this embodiment as a composite construction having a foam core 84 with inner wall 86 and outer wall 88 of rotationally molded plastic. Alternative embodiments employ fiberglass or other fiber reinforced structural material.
Vertical seams in the modular components employ an interlocking channel structure receiving a mating insert, which for the embodiment shown is wedge shaped to expand the elements upon insertion to forcibly urge the tongue portion of the horizontal engagement moieties into the receiving cheek portions allowing tension engagement of the circumference by the steel strap.
Referring to FIG. 8, the top section incorporates at least one overflow port 90 which directs water exceeding the designated water level, due to additional persons in the pool or wave action due to vigorous activity, to the overflow reservoir 50. The reservoir is covered by or integrally fabricated into one or both of the chaise seats thereby employing otherwise wasted volume within the pool's useful form factor. The overflow port is ducted to the reservoir using metal or plastic piping to an inlet port 92. An outlet port 94 in the reservoir is ducted through a return pump 96 to the pool. In the embodiment shown, a float switch 98 is employed to activate the return pump. A second float switch 100 in the reservoir is employed as a safety shut-off rerouter for the pump upon exhausting the available water from the reservoir to avoid pump damage. Electrically activated solenoid valves 102a and 102b automatically provide for cross flow control.
The return pump is housed in the removable equipment module 24. By employing additional cross flow arrangements with solenoid actuated valves 104a for spa jets, 104b for upper return and 104c for lower return, the pump is employed for circulation of the pool water for filtration. Draining water from the pool for cleaning or disassembly is accomplished using valve 104d. Valve 104e prevents recirculating flow from entering the overflow tank when upper return circulation is employed. Additional water accessories as will be described with respect to FIG. 9 may be attached into the water circulation system through valve 104f. A filtration and heating system 106 is incorporated in the module for control of the temperature and cleanliness of the pool water. A controller 108 provides manual and automatic control for the various flow and heating functions. For the embodiment shown, the equipment module is removable and replaceable as a combined system to preclude downtime due to component failure thereby avoiding impact to patients/users who have become dependent on the therapeutic value of the pool system. Unclipping the equipment module/steps on either side, using fasteners 110 allows access to flexible plumbing lines for disconnection. The module can then be removed and immediately replaced with an alternate unit and the pool returned to service. The module can then be examined and repaired as a whole unit thereby diagnosing any and all potential failure points in the system simultaneously.
As shown in FIG. 9, the present invention incorporates additional features for the comfort and utility of the pool system as well as aesthetic quality of the system. Seating in chaise seating located in the pool flat base portion is limited. By use of novel edge supported seats 112 the deep vertical section of the pool over the tub bottom can be used added for seating. The edge support seats include a seat bottom 114 extending from a seat back structure 116 which depends from a substantially U-shaped hook arrangement 118 received over the coping 36. For the embodiment shown, the hook arrangement includes a lock element 120 received under the coping to prevent inadvertent lifting of the seat and resulting disengagement of the hook arrangement from the coping. In alternative embodiments, the coping is sculpted to specifically receive the attachment hooks.
Additionally, a waterfall attachment 122 or other over the surface water recirculation device is received over the coping and attached to the plumbing of the water circulation system in the pool, previously described with respect to FIG. 8, to provide a visual enhancement for a pleasing view from the pool seating. The waterfall attachment for the embodiment shown also utilizes a substantially U-shaped attachment bracket 124 to allow placement at any desired location on the coping over the semi-circular end of the pool. Piping 126 allows water inlet into the waterfall. The coping shape allows plumbing for the waterfall to be routed out of view to an attachment point for the accessory valve as previously described. Similarly, a fountain attachment is provided in alternative embodiments for use with the pool occupied or unoccupied to provide aeration of the recirculating pool water. The detachable arrangement of the waterfall allows it to be placed at a desired location on the edge of the pool for reentry of the circulating water at any point to facilitate flow or to provide gentle rippling effects in the water less vigorous than normal spa jets.
Having now described the invention in detail as required by the patent statutes, those skilled in the art will recognize modifications and substitutions to the specific embodiments disclosed herein. Such modifications are within the scope and intent of the present invention as defined in the following claims.