Title:
Method and apparatus for breaking up fecal matter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus for breaking up fecal matter includes a rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element, and an element holding device. The element holding device holds the biodegradable disposable element used to break up fecal matter, and releases the biodegradable disposable element such that the user does not directly contact the biodegradable disposable element.



Inventors:
Graham, Catherine M. (St. Charles, MO, US)
Meyer, Pamela (St. Charles, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/123628
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
05/06/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/104.94, 15/210.1
International Classes:
A47K11/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
SPISICH, MARK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATRICK W. RASCHE (ARMSTRONG TEASDALE LLP 7700 FORSYTH BOULEVARD SUITE 1800, ST. LOUIS, MO, 63105, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for breaking up fecal matter comprising: a rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element; and an element holding device configured to hold said biodegradable disposable element and release said biodegradable disposable element such that a user does not directly contact said biodegradable disposable element, wherein said element holding device comprises a handle; a switch mechanically attached to said handle; and a holding component for clasping said rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element, wherein said holding component is mechanically attached to said handle and operationally attached to said switch.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said biodegradable disposable element is manufactured from at least one of a cleaning agent, a deodorizing agent, paper and water-soluble plastic.

3. A kit for breaking up fecal matter comprising: at least one rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element; and a handle comprising a switch and a holding component for clasping said biodegradable disposable element, said holding component operationally attached to said switch.

4. A kit according to claim 3 wherein said biodegradable element is manufactured from at least one of a cleaning agent, a deodorizing agent, paper and water-soluble plastic.

5. A method for preventing the spread of germs when breaking up fecal matter, said method comprising: clasping a rigidly formed biodegradable element with an element holding device; breaking up fecal matter with the biodegradable element; and disposing of the biodegradable element by releasing the biodegradable element from the element holding device such that a user does not directly contact the biodegradable element.

6. A method according to claim 5 wherein the element holding device includes a handle, a switch mechanically attached to the handle, and a holding component mechanically attached to the handle and operationally attached to the switch.

7. A method according to claim 6 wherein clasping a biodegradable element with an element holding device further comprises: moving the switch from a first position to a second position closing the holding component on the biodegradable element; and securely clasping the biodegradable element.

8. A method according to claim 6 wherein releasing the biodegradable element from the element holding device without contacting the biodegradable element further comprises: moving the switch from a second position to a first position opening the holding component clasping the biodegradable element; and releasing the biodegradable element.

9. A method according to claim 5 wherein the biodegradable element is manufactured from at least one of a cleaning agent, a deodorizing agent, paper and water-soluble plastic.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to devices used in the handling of fecal matter, and more specifically, to the breaking up of fecal matter with a rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element.

A person suffering from constipation can release fecal matter that is too large to flow freely through the toilet and/or piping system or that becomes securely attached to the inner sides of the toilet and/or piping, thus clogging the passageways. In addition, undesirable odors and stains can result, along with the unpleasant sight of the fecal matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, an apparatus for breaking up fecal matter includes a rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element, and an element holding device, wherein the element holding device holds the biodegradable disposable element used to break up fecal matter; and releases the biodegradable disposable element such that the user does not directly contact the biodegradable disposable element. The element holding device includes a handle, a switch mechanically attached to the handle, and a holding component for clasping the rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element, wherein the holding component is mechanically attached to the handle and operationally attached to the switch.

In another aspect, a kit for breaking up fecal matter includes at least one rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element, and a handle, wherein the handle includes a switch and a holding component for clasping the biodegradable disposable element, the holding component operationally attached to the switch.

In yet another aspect, a method for preventing the spread of germs when breaking up fecal matter is provided. The method includes clasping a rigidly formed biodegradable element with an element holding device, breaking up fecal matter with the biodegradable element, and disposing of the biodegradable element by releasing the biodegradable element from the element holding device such that the user does not directly contact the biodegradable element.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of an exemplary device with a disposable element; and

FIG. 2 is a top view of the device with the disposable element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a side view of an exemplary apparatus 10 including an element holding device 12 and a rigidly formed biodegradable disposable element 14, such as a biodegradable disposable stick or rod. FIG. 2 is a top view of apparatus 10. In the exemplary embodiment, element holding device 12 includes a switch 16, a holding component 18 and a handle 20.

In one embodiment, handle 20 is bent and includes a first section 22 and a second section 24 which extends at an angle 26 from first section 22. The bend in handle 20 makes it possible to access hard-to-reach areas. In one embodiment, the length of first section 22 is about 12.0 inches and the length of second section 24 is about 6.7 inches. In the illustrated embodiment, the bend in handle 20 has an angle of about 16°.

In one embodiment, the length of disposable element 14 is about 12.0 inches. Disposable element 14 is made of a biodegradable material, more specifically a material that is easily soluble in water, allowing disposable element 14 to be disposed of with the fecal matter it contacts. In one embodiment, disposable element 14 is formed from at least one of a cleaning agent and a deodorizing agent, for example a detergent or a soap, allowing disposable element 14 to facilitate cleaning and/or deodorizing during use. In another embodiment, disposable element 14 is manufactured from paper. In yet another embodiment, disposable element 14 is manufactured from a water-soluble plastic.

Switch 16 is mechanically attached to handle 20 at first section 22 and holding component 18 is mechanically attached to handle 20 at second section 24. In addition, switch 16 is operationally attached to holding component 18. In an alternative embodiment, switch 16 and handle 20 are both mechanically attached to the same section. In one embodiment, holding component 18 is a clamp. Alternatively, holding component 18 is any device that facilitates releasably and securely clasping disposable element 14.

In operation, holding component 18 releasably clasps disposable element 14 and switch 16 controls holding component 18. Sliding switch 16 from a first position 50, wherein holding component 18 is open, to a second position 52 in a direction A actuates holding component 18 to close and securely clasp disposable element 14. Sliding switch 16 in a direction B returning from second position 52 to first position 50 actuates holding component 18 to open and release disposable element 14.

In one embodiment, switch 16 actuates holding component 18 by substantially applying or releasing tension on a cord or rope extending through handle 20, with a first end connected to switch 16 and a second end connected to holding component 18. In one embodiment, holding component 18, in an at rest state, is resiliently held in an open position. Sliding switch 16 in direction A applies a tension to the cord or rope attached between switch 16 and holding component 18, and holding component 18 is closed by holding component 18 being drawn into an open end of handle 20 adjacent holding component 18. Sliding switch 16 in direction B releases the tension on the cord or rope attached between switch 16 and holding component 18, and holding component 18 extends from the open end of handle 20 to its at rest state in the open position. Alternatively, holding component 18 is actuated to open and close by any method that facilitates allowing switch 16 to control opening and closing holding component 18.

In this manner, apparatus 10 allows for utilizing biodegradable disposable element 14 to contact and break-up fecal matter. After use, element 14 is disposed of, for example, flushed in a toilet along with the broken up fecal matter, without a user having to contact the fecal matter or disposable element 14. This facilitates preventing fecal matter from contacting or spreading germs onto other objects or onto the user.

While the invention has been described in terms of various specific embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention can be practiced with modification within the spirit and scope of the claims.