Title:
Rehabilitation apparatus for lumbosacral spine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dynamic, sitting apparatus for strengthening muscles of the lumbosacral spine and abdomen, which also provides a comfortable sitting environment. The device consists of two oppositely facing, sitting platforms that are separated by a pivoting member secured to the undersurfaces of both platforms. The points of attachments of the pivoting member are at the off-center and at the on-center positions, with respect to each platform's own geometrical centers. This allows for comfortable variability of sitting tilting angles for individuals with differing lumbosacral anatomies and pathologies. The outer surfaces of each platform depict indicia showing the locations of each of the platform's center points of pivoting and rotation.



Inventors:
Meleger, Alec L. (Brookline, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/251958
Publication Date:
05/11/2006
Filing Date:
10/17/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C3/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
BAKER, LORI LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Alec L. Meleger (20 Strathmore Road, #2, Brookline, MA, 02445, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A therapeutic sitting apparatus comprising: (a) two substantially flat and generally rigid platforms designated as first and second; (b) a pivoting/fulcrum member having a flat end and a curved end, said flat end secured to said first platform and said curved end secured to said second platform; and (c) wherein said platforms are narrower than the width and depth of a seat belonging to a typical chair; and (d) wherein said platforms have curved edges of predetermined contours for sitting comfort; and (e) wherein the point of attachment of said second platform to said pivoting/fulcrum member being off center with respect to said platform's own geometrical center as shown in FIGS. 1 & 4; and (f) wherein the point of attachment of said first platform to said pivoting/fulcrum member is at said platform's own geometrical center as shown in FIGS. 1 & 4; and (g) wherein said first and second platforms show outer surface indicia depicting relative position of the respective platforms' center of nutation/pivoting as depicted in FIGS. 2 & 3.

2. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said pivoting means consist of interchangeably removing and securing pivoting/fulcrum member(s) of varying curved shapes, diameters and/or consisting of various materials, resilient or nonresilient.

3. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said platforms' diameters are equal or wider than the width and depth of a seat belonging to a typical chair.

4. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said first platform attached to the flat end of said pivoting/fulcrum member are made of one single, contiguous mold.

5. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said platforms can be nonrigid and assume a variety of non-flat shapes.

6. A therapeutic sifting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the point of attachment of said pivoting/fulcrum member is at said second platform's geometrical center and the point of attachment of said pivoting/fulcrum member being off-center with respect to said first platform's geometrical center.

7. A therapeutic sifting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said pivoting/fulcrum member and said first and second platforms are all made of a single, contiguous mold.

8. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said platforms include removable or non-removable undersurface or peripheral stops of predetermined contours limiting further tilting.

9. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said pivoting/fulcrum member includes removable or non-removable stops of predetermined contours limiting further tilting.

10. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said pivoting/fulcrum member is nonremovable and consists of a material different from the one used in making said sitting platforms.

11. A therapeutic sifting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said pivoting/fulcrum member contains a cut out spanning the entire length of said member.

12. A therapeutic sifting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein a spring coil mechanism is used to secure said second platform to said pivoting/fulcrum member and to said first platform.

13. A therapeutic sifting apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said first and second platforms can be used as sifting surfaces depending on which said platform is on the upside, thus allowing the user, based on their comfort level, to utilize said pivoting/fulcrum member at said on center or off center positions with respect to said platforms' geometrical centers.

14. A therapeutic sifting apparatus comprising: (a) two platforms designated first and second; (b) a pivoting/fulcrum member secured on both sides to said platforms; and (c) wherein the point of attachment of said first platform to said pivoting/fulcrum member being at said platform's own geometrical center; and (d) wherein the point of attachment of said second platform to said pivoting/fulcrum member being off-center with respect to said platform's own geometrical center; and (e) wherein said platforms showing indicia depicting relative position of the respective platforms' center of nutation/pivoting.

15. A therapeutic sifting apparatus as claimed in claim 14 wherein said pivoting/fulcrum member is of spherical shape or consists of two curved ends.

16. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 14 wherein said pivoting means consist of interchangeably removing and securing pivoting/fulcrum member(s) of varying shapes, diameters and/or consisting of various materials, resilient or nonresilient.

17. A therapeutic sitting apparatus as claimed in claim 14 wherein said pivoting/fulcrum member is secured to the geometrical center of said first and second platforms.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on provisional application Ser. No. 60/619,535, filed on Oct. 18, 2004.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

DESCRIPTION OF ATTACHED APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This present invention relates to rehabilitation and exercise equipment. More specifically, it provides a dynamic sitting environment for strengthening core musculature of the lumbosacral spine and abdomen, as well as allows more comfortable and ergonomic sitting.

Most adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. The symptoms of back pain tend to be recurrent in nature and if progress, can cause significant disability. Numerous studies have shown that weak lumbar and abdominal muscles can predispose or perpetuate the recurrence of low back pain. Sedentary lifestyle has been found as one of the risk factors leading to deconditioning of low back musculature and to developing chronic low back pain.

A number of exercise programs have been designed to strengthen low back muscles and thus decrease the level of pain, to increase sifting and standing tolerance, as well as to improve daily function. The most widely used exercise program consists of lumbar stabilization exercises, which specifically isolates core lumbar musculature, and at the same time engages muscles of the abdominal wall. One way of performing these exercises is with the use of an inflated exercise ball where the individual maintains the upright posture by balancing themselves through actively engaging the lumbar paraspinals, as well as abdominal muscles.

Likewise, by using such a dynamic sitting surface, the individual is also able to find the position of comfort by altering the level of lumbar lordosis and pelvic obliquity, thus reducing low back pain and discomfort while sitting. The decrease in the level of lordosis, or increase in kyphosis, will help reduce the stress on the lumbar facet joints and within the posterior aspect of lumbar intervertebral discs thus mitigating the level discomfort in individuals with pain emanating from those anatomical regions. Respectively, the increase in the level of lordosis, or decrease in kyphosis, will lead to reduced pressure within the middle and anterior aspects of lumbar intervertebral discs and thus help to alleviate pain in individuals suffering from disc related pain. In addition, by continuously changing the level and peak location of intradiscal pressure with the of the use of such an dynamic sifting platform, the intervertebral disc can maintain an optimal level of nutrition and decrease the level of elastic deformation, which can be seen when sifting on top of immobile or static sifting surface(s).

Unfortunately, the regular use of an inflatable exercise ball, in a number of settings (i.e. work), is precluded by its size, lack of portability, as well as by inability in being able to adjust the ball's height. The present invention provides portability due to its relatively small size and allows it to be used on top of any sifting apparatus or flat surface, thus making the adjustability of the seat height, a non-issue.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,719,571 describes a stand alone, freely rotatable stool comprising of a universal joint between its base and its seat. U.S. Pat. No. 5,810,751 describes a sifting apparatus consisting of a column with the upper side supporting a seat and the lower side attached to the platform with a curved member attached to its undersurface. Both constructs require active use of trunk and abdominal muscles to maintain the sifting balance. However, they are stand alone constructs, are not portable and can not be used to convert another sifting surface into a dynamic one.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,944,591 describes a swivel seat attachment which converts a typical automobile seat into a mobile sitting environment, which allows the user's body to slide and rotate when getting in or out of the vehicle, as well as during driving, especially when going around curves. Unfortunately, this construct does not allow any swivel or tilting in the vertical plane and only provides movement in the horizontal plane.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,653,748 describes an ankle exercising device consisting of a flat platform and a hemispherical member secured to its undersurface. This apparatus allows variable angular tilting of the ankle joint while the user stands on top of the platform. However, it would not be possible to use this device on top of soft sitting surfaces since it would simply sink in thus disallowing any ability to swivel. The current invention obviates this problem by having a second sitting platform attached to the pivoting member's curved end.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,830,345 describes a sitting apparatus consisting of two outwardly facing sitting surfaces connected and separated by a plurality of coil springs. The apparatus is capable of vibration and undulation when a person sits on top of it and tries to maintain an upright sitting balance. Unfortunately, this device does not provide an off-center positioned fulcrum as current invention provides, thus allowing greater degree of comfort for individuals with pelvic obliquity. Likewise, a relatively heavy user might affect the proper functioning of a coil based sitting apparatus by unduly compressing the coils themselves.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of this invention is to transform any surface, sitting or non-sitting, hard or soft, into a highly dynamic and mobile sitting environment.

Another object of this invention is to provide the means of strengthening the muscles of the lumbosacral spine and abdomen while in the process of sitting.

A further object of this invention is to decrease the intensity of low back pain while sifting.

Another object of this invention is to provide a comfortable sifting environment for individuals with pelvic obliquity.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide the means of training and improving sifting balance.

Another object of this invention is to provide the means of obtaining a proper sifting posture.

A further object of this invention is to provide a dynamic sitting environment which can be used in performance of lumbar stabilization exercise program.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a dynamic sitting environment with either the first or the second platforms serving as the sitting surface by flipping the device “upside down”.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following descriptions, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein, by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of the present invention is disclosed.

To achieve the aforementioned objectives and to address the limitations of prior inventions, the current apparatus consists of two oppositely facing sifting platforms attached to and separated by a pivoting member with a curved end. The pivoting member is attached to the center of one platform's undersurface and at the off-center position to the other platform's undersurface. Each platform surface depicts indicia indicating the relative position of the fulcrum point or center of rotation.

The current invention is a dynamic sitting device which can transform any surface, sifting or non-sifting, hard or soft, into a highly dynamic and mobile sitting environment. Due to its portability, this device can be used as an active sitting surface at home or in the office, as well as employed on top of soft surfaces (i.e. couches), due to the substantially rigid platforms embodied on both sides of the apparatus—lack of one of these platforms would cause the apparatus to sink into the soft surface and lose any pivoting capability. This apparatus can be used as both as a method of recovering from a low back injury and as a means of preventing back problems. The invention has a direct application as an exercise device to strengthen lumbar muscles as well as abdominals, but it can also be used for proprioceptive (balance) training and in helping to maintain proper posture.

In order to help mitigate the attainment of lumbar lordosis or kyphosis in individuals with pelvic obliquity, the pivoting member is attached at the off-center position of one of the sitting platforms.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments to the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. It is to be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown exaggerated or enlarged to facilitate an understanding of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a cross sectional view of the apparatus.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the apparatus.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the apparatus, with the apparatus flipped over onto the side depicted as the top side in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the apparatus depicting a pivoting/fulcrum member of a different shape.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the apparatus depicting one of the possible embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiment are provided herein. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but rather as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed system, structure or manner.

One version of the embodiment of the therapeutic sitting apparatus in accordance with the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1, which depicts a cross sectional view of the device. Included are two opposite facing, substantially flat, sitting platforms designated as 10 and 11. The two platforms are separated by a pivoting member 12, having a curved end and a vertical tunnel-like cut out 17, which extends the through the entire height of the pivoting member's center. Analogous, full thickness cut outs, 20 and 21, are made through the sitting platforms 10 and 11, through the geometrical center and off geometrical center of each platform, respectively. The cut outs 17, 20 and 21 are overlapped to produce a continuous vertical cut out. In FIG. 1, a coil spring 16, extends through the said continuous cut out and attaches at the cut out centers 13 and 14, belonging to cut outs 20 and 21, respectively. Rod-like structures 19 and 22, which traverse cut outs 20 and 21, can be used for hooking the coil spring 16 thus allowing the sitting platform 11 attach to the rest of the apparatus.

It should be appreciated that the sitting platform 10 and the pivoting member 12 can be made of a single, uninterrupted mold as depicted in FIG. 1.

It should also be appreciated that the said mechanical construct allows both sitting platforms to pivot with relation to each other, when one of the sitting platforms is in direct contact with another surface (i.e. chair, sofa, etc.) while the other sitting platform is in direct contact with the individual sitting on top of it.

One of the features of the invention is that the center of nutation/pivoting is located at the cut out center 13 which also happens to be the geometrical center of the sitting platform 10. On the contrary, the point of nutation/pivoting located at the cut out center 14 is at the off-center position with respect to the geometrical center of the sitting platform 11.

The peripheral edge 15 of each of the two sitting platforms consists of a rounded or curved shape for sitting comfort as well as to serve as a stop to further pivotal displacement of the two sitting platforms relative to each other.

It should be appreciated that the said invention can be flipped upside down and either of the sitting platforms 10 or 11 can be used as sitting surfaces as based on the user's comfort level. It is also a feature of the current invention that both sitting platforms 10 and 11 are made of substantially rigid material in order to prevent any deformation, either due to the user's weight for the sitting platform in direct contact with the user, or if used on top of soft surfaces for the sitting platform in direct contact with the said soft surface.

FIG. 2 depicts the top view of the sitting apparatus with the sitting platform 10 shown at the top and the sitting platform 11 shown at the bottom depicted with the dotted line. The center 13 of cut out 20 coincides with the geometrical center of the sitting platform 10. A rod-like structure 19 spans the cut out 20 and is used for hooking the coil spring 16(not depicted). Quadrant indicia 21 aid in showing the relative position of the center of nutation/pivoting depicted by cut out center 13.

FIG. 3 depicts the top view of the sitting apparatus with sitting platform 11 shown at the top and the sitting platform 10 shown at the bottom depicted with the dotted line. The center 14 of the cut out 21 is positioned off-center with respect to the geometrical center of the sitting platform 11. A rod-like structure 22 spans the cut out 21 and is used for hooking the coil spring 16(not depicted). Quadrant indicia 30 aid in showing the relative position of the center of nutation/pivoting depicted by cut out center 14.

Another version of the therapeutic sitting apparatus in accordance with the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 4 depicting a cross sectional view of the embodiment. This version of the embodiment is generally similar to the one depicted in FIG. 1 except that the diameter of the pivoting/fulcrum member 42 equals to the diameter of the sitting platform 40 and is secured at said platform's geometrical center 46. It should be appreciated that structures 40 and 42 can be made of a single, contiguous mold. Again, as in FIG. 1, the second platform, in this case referenced 41, is secured to the pivoting/fulcrum member 42, off-center 45, with respect to its own geometrical center. Again, as in FIG. 1, cut outs 43, 47 and 48 are overlapped as to produce a continuous cut out through which a securing member, in this case a coil spring 44, can be passed through.

FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of the apparatus depicting yet another one of the possible embodiments without the use of said coil spring attachment. A pivoting/fulcrum member 51 is secured to the undersurface of sitting platform 50 with center of nutation/pivoting positioned directly in line with the said platform's geometrical center. The curved aspect of the said fulcrum/pivoting member is secured to the second sitting platform 52 at the off-center position with respect to the said platform's geometrical center. Surface indicia 53 depict the relative position of the center of nutation/pivoting.

While the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment, it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular form set forth, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.