Title:
Therapeutic posturing process and devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A process for the therapeutic posturing of infants resides in providing one or more shape retaining cushioning devices having a first surface for receiving at least a part of an infant's body in a given position and one or more second surfaces for inhibiting movement of the given part of the infant's body from the given position, and placing an infant relative to the cushioning device or devices such that the given part of the infant's body is retained in the given position by said surfaces without unduly constraining other parts of the body. Representative therapeutic posturing devices are disclosed.



Inventors:
Faustick, Luke (Bonsall, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/194806
Publication Date:
02/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/01/2005
Assignee:
Special Tikes, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
128/845
International Classes:
A47C27/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACKSON, BRANDON LEE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREER, BURNS & CRAIN (300 S WACKER DR, 25TH FLOOR, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A process for therapeutic posturing of an infant comprising the steps of providing a shape retaining cushion having a first surface for receiving at least part of an infant's body in a given position and one or more second surfaces for inhibiting movement of the part of the infant's body from the given position, and placing an infant's body relative to the cushion such that the given part of the infant's body is retained in said given position.

2. A process for therapeutic posturing of an infant comprising the steps of providing a shape retaining cushion having a first surface for receiving the torso of an infant in a given position and spaced second surfaces generally normal to the first surface for inhibiting the infant from rolling out of the given position, and placing an infant face down on the cushion with its stomach and chest in engagement with the first surface and between the second surfaces and with its head, shoulders and arms extending beyond said surfaces.

3. A process as set for in claim 2 wherein the cushion has a base, the first surface is elevated relative to the base for posturing the infant's head in an elevated position without direct support from the cushion, and the second surfaces comprise side walls extending upwardly from the first surface and engagable by the infant's torso for inhibiting rolling of the infant's body.

4. A process as set forth in claim 2 wherein the first surface of the cushion is inclined generally upwardly from a lower portion of the infant's torso toward the top of the infant's torso.

5. A process as set forth in claim 3 wherein the first surface of the cushion is curved upwardly from generally the lower region of the infants chest to the upper region of the infant's chest for posturing the infant's shoulders, neck and head in an elevated position relative to the remainder of the infant's body.

6. A process as set forth in claim 3 including an aperture in the first surface of the cushion for accommodating a gastrointestinal port should the infant have such a port.

7. A process as set forth in claim 6 including a removable plug for closing the aperture.

8. A process as set forth in claim 4 wherein said first surface of said cushion is curved upwardly from generally the lower region of the infant's chest to the upper region of the infant's chest for posturing the infant's shoulders, neck and head in an elevated position relative to the remainder of the infant's body.

9. A process as set forth in claim 2 comprising the step of forming the cushion from a semi-resilient foam and covering the foam cushion with a conformable, removable and washable cover.

10. A device for therapeutic posturing of an infant comprising a shape retaining cushion having a first surface for receiving at least part of an infant's body in a given position and one or more second surfaces for inhibiting movement of that part of the infant's body from the given position.

11. A device as set forth in claim 10 wherein said first surface is an upwardly facing surface and said one or more second surfaces comprise a pair of spaced surfaces extending generally upwardly relative to said first surface.

12. A device as set forth in claim 11 wherein said cushion has a base, said first surface is elevated relative to the base for receiving the torso of an infant's body and for posturing the infant's head in an elevated position without direct support from the cushion, and said second surfaces comprise side walls engageable by the infant's torso for inhibiting rolling of the infant's body.

13. A device as set forth in claim 12 wherein said first surface of said cushion is inclined generally upwardly from a lower portion of an infant's torso toward the top of the infant's torso.

14. A device as set forth in claim 12 wherein said first surface of said cushion is curved upwardly from generally the lower region of the infant's chest to the upper region of the infant's chest for posturing the infant's shoulders, neck and head in an elevated position relative to the remainder of the infant's body.

15. A device as set forth in claim 12 including an aperture in the first surface of the cushion for accommodating an gastrointestinal port should the infant have such a port.

16. A device as set forth in claim 15 including a removable plug for closing the aperture.

17. A device as set forth in claim 12 including, relative to an infant's torso, an aperture in the lower left region of the first surface of the cushion for accommodating a gastrointestinal port should the infant have such a port.

18. A device as set forth in claim 10 wherein said cushion is comprised of a semi-resilient foam body.

19. A device as set forth in claim 18 including a conformable soft goods cover on said body.

20. A device as set forth in claim 19 wherein said soft goods cover is removable and washable.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a process and devices for the therapeutic posturing of infants.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Some infants are born with mental and/or physical deficiencies due, for example, to brain damage, oxygen deprivation and/or diminished motor skills. Many of these deficiencies are therapeutically treatable by appropriate posturing or positioning of the infant's body. Skilled physical therapists, using rolled towels and other props, are able to position an infant's head, legs, arms and torso to compensate for and therapeutically treat the birth deficiency.

Other children require medical treatments, such as intravenous infusions, gastrointestinal feeding and oral ventilation, that call for the infant or child to be supine and/or quiescent. Again, a skilled physical therapist, using towels and props, can appropriately position the infant or child to facilitate administration of the treatment.

In these cases, a professional therapist is required to improvise a posturing system for the infant or child.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The object of the invention is to provide devices, and a process of using such devices, for therapeutic posturing of infants without requiring improvisation by a therapist, or for that matter, without requiring a professional therapist at all.

In accordance with the invention, such devices are comprised of a semi-resilient cushion having a first surface, usually an upwardly facing surface, for receiving at least part of an infant's body in a given position, and one or more second surfaces for inhibiting movement of the infant's body from the given position. The process of the invention resides in providing the cushioning device and placing an infant's body relative to the cushioning device such that the given part of the infant's body is retained in said given position.

In a specific embodiment, an infant posturing device particularly, though not solely, designed for therapeutic treatment of infants having hyperextension and/or head control problems comprises a shape retaining cushion having a first surface for receiving the torso of an infant in a given position and spaced second surfaces generally normal to the first surface for inhibiting the infant from rolling out of the given position. In accordance with the process of the invention, an infant is placed face down on the cushion with its stomach and chest in engagement with the first surface and positioned between the second surfaces and with its head, shoulders and arms extending beyond said surfaces.

An infant positioned on the cushion as above described is not able to roll out of or retract from the posture thus established for it, and in particular is not able to retract its arms, thereby to aid in treatment of hyperextension problems. Additionally, the infant's head is not supported and the infant's inherent curiosity will induce the infant to raise his or her head to see what is going around him or her thereby to aid in treatment of head control problems.

The therapeutic cushion of the invention thereby enables unskilled parents and caregivers to establish a therapeutically beneficial posture for an infant without requiring skilled therapists to posture the child each time the child is to be moved.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those of reasonable skill in the art from the following detailed description as considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a therapeutic posturing cushion provided in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view, from a different perspective, of the body of the cushion illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the cushion illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a vertical cross-section of the cushion illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of therapeutic cushion for posturing the head of an infant, particularly following surgery and/or during administration of a supplementary treatment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following is a detailed description of certain embodiments of the invention presently deemed by the inventor to be the best mode of carrying out his invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, a posturing cushion 10 for therapeutic treatment of an infant having hyperextension problems and/or head control problems is comprised of a shape retaining body 12 (FIG. 2) and a conformable, removable and washable cover 14 (FIG. 1).

The body 12 is suitably molded or otherwise formed from a fire resistant and non-toxic semi-rigid/semi-resilient shape retaining foam and the cover 14 is preferably made of a fire resistant and non-toxic soft, pliant, absorbent and washable fabric, such as cotton toweling. The cover is suitable fabricated in accordance with standard slipcover manufacturing procedures so as to be easily removable from and easily re-assembled on the body 12, so the cover may from time-to-time be removed for washing and/or cleaning to maintain a sanitary condition.

The cushion 10 comprises a base portion 16 defining an upwardly facing surface 18 for receiving the torso of an infant and a pair of laterally spaced upstanding sidewalls 20 which define side surfaces 22 engageable with the infant's body to prevent or at least deter the infant from rolling off of or changing its position relative to the first surface 18.

The upper surface 18 of the base 16 is preferably inclined upwardly from one end (lower end 24) to the other end (upper end 26). More specifically, the surface 18 is preferably curved or contoured to conform more or less to an infant's tummy (stomach) adjacent its lower end 24 and the infant's chest adjacent its upper end 26. The upper end portion of the surface 18 is preferably curved or rounded, as indicated at 28, to conformably and comfortably receive the upper portion of an infant's torso.

Pursuant to the invention, particularly though not solely for therapeutic treatment of infants having hyperextension problems and/or head control problems, the infant is placed faced down on the cushion between the side surfaces 22 with the infant's tummy engaging the lower portion 24 of the surface 18 and the infants chest engaging the upper portion 26 of the surface 18, and with the infant's head, shoulders and arms extending over and beyond the rounded upper end 28 of the cushion.

When so positioned, the infant is not able to retract her/his arms from their extended positions over the upper end of the cushion, thereby to aid in treatment of hyperextension problems, such as those resulting from brain damage, oxygen deprivation and/or diminished motor skills.

Additionally, the infant's head is not directly supported and will hang down over the rounded upper end 28 of the cushion so that the child will normally be looking at the floor or other cushion supporting surface. The naturally inquisitive nature of an infant will inherently cause the infant to raise its head from time to time and/or for prolonged periods of time, in order to see what is going on around him or her. This will exercise the head control motor function of the body and aid in the treatment of head control problems.

The cushion 10 thus provides for effective therapeutic treatment of serious disabilities of physically and/or mentally challenged infants.

Many of these infants suffer additional disabilities which may, for example, require gastrointestinal feeding via a feed tube and port communicating between the exterior and the interior of the stomach. To accommodate the gastrointestinal feeding port on such infants, the cushion 10 of the invention preferably includes a cutout, aperture or opening 30 in the base 16 and supporting surface 18, suitably in the lower left region of the lower end portion 24 of the surface 18, adapted to receive the port without obstruction. For infants who do not have or require a gastrointestinal port, the aperture 30 may be filled and closed by a removable plug or insert 30 as illustrated in FIG. 2.

There are also a number of infants who, during recovery from surgery or during therapeutic treatments, such as oral ventilation, or during administration of an intravenous infusion, and for various other reasons, need to be postured on their backs. Due to the softness of skull tissues during infancy, posturing of an infant on her/his back can result in flattening of the back of the child's head, which could become a lifelong deformity. Additionally, under at least some circumstances, a child's head should be held steady in a given position for administration of a particular treatment. The cushion illustrated in FIG. 5 addresses these concerns.

Referring to FIG. 5, a cushion 40 for maintaining an infant's head quiescent and in a selected position during administration of a treatment requiring the infant to be in a supine posture, and for mitigating flattening or other deformity of an infant's head while in supine posture, is comprised of an annulus 42 of shape retaining material, suitably a semi-rigid/semi-resilient foam. The annulus may, if desired, be provided with a removable and washable cover (not shown) similar to that of FIG. 1.

The annulus 42 has interior and exterior dimensions or boundaries such as to define radially extending annular surfaces 44 that will engage and support marginal portions of an infant's skull. The skull of the infant extends partially into the interior of the annulus and movement of the skull relative to the annulus is inhibited by the radially inner interior surfaces 52 of the annulus. The annulus has a thickness sufficient to hold the skull spaced from the supporting surface on which the annulus is rested. Thus, the head does not contact a hard surface and will not become flattened or suffer other deformities during therapeutic treatment.

The annulus has at least one and preferably a plurality of recesses 46 in one or both of its surfaces for receiving a portion of an infant's head and neck. The recesses are preferably of different sizes to accommodate infant's heads and necks of different shapes and sizes. Each recess has an upwardly facing head/neck supporting surface 48 and a pair of laterally spaced side surfaces 50 that will prevent or at least mitigate side to side movement and rolling motion of the head. The surfaces 48, 50 and 52 hold the head steady and parallel to the sides of the infant's body with the head spaced from hard surfaces during therapy.

The invention thus provides a process and devices whereby unskilled caregivers, with minimal tutoring or coaching, can conveniently and accurately posture an infant's body for therapeutic treatment without requiring the continual attention of a skilled therapist.

The objects and advantages of the invention have therefore been shown to be attained in a convenient, economical, practical and facile manner.

While presently preferred embodiments of the invention have been herein illustrated and described, it is to be appreciated that various changes, rearrangements and modifications may be made therein, and that other and additional therapeutic posturing devices may be devised, without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.