Title:
Portable seat cushion with integrated arm rests
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable sitting assistance device includes a cushion configured to be sat upon. The cushion has at least one foam material that can deflect under an applied load and store energy during deflection. A U-shaped cradle extends adjacent a bottom and along two opposite sides of the cushion in a parallel spaced apart relation with respect to one another. Each of a pair of arm rests is coupled to a side frame of the U-shaped frame.



Inventors:
Porter, Diann (Orem, UT, US)
Porter, Lester Rogers (Murray, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/891566
Publication Date:
02/14/2008
Filing Date:
08/09/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/653, 297/219.1
International Classes:
A47C31/00; A47C27/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030164639"Chair with readily interchangeable cushions"September, 2003Infanti
20090146480Crushable Armrest AssemblyJune, 2009Knowlden
20050242635Chair with onboard electrical power sourceNovember, 2005Cassaday
20080084099HIGH CHAIR PROTECTIVE COVERApril, 2008Palgon
20090160232CHILD SEAT AND METHOD FOR MONITORING INSTALLATION OF THE CHILD SEATJune, 2009Hinze et al.
20070018493Vehicular switch operation mechanismJanuary, 2007Kawachi et al.
20090243349Adjustable height hook on high chairOctober, 2009Flannery
20070205646Repositionable Child Support DeviceSeptember, 2007Bapst et al.
20060138846Passenger seat with adjustable seat depthJune, 2006Frey et al.



Primary Examiner:
LIU, JONATHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THORPE NORTH & WESTERN, LLP. (P.O. Box 1219, SANDY, UT, 84091-1219, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable sitting assistance device, comprising: a) a cushion configured to be sat upon; b) a U-shaped cradle, extending adjacent a bottom and upward along two opposite sides of the cushion; c) a pair of arm rests, each arm rest coupled to the cradle adjacent one of the two opposite sides of the cushion; and d) the arm rests and a top of the cushion being at substantially equal elevations.

2. A device in accordance with claim 1, the U-shaped cradle further comprising: a) a pair of U-shaped frames positioned in a parallel spaced apart relation with respect to one another, each frame having: i) a base frame extending adjacent a bottom of the cushion; and ii) a pair of upwardly extending side frames, each side frame coupled to an opposite side of the base and extending upward from the base along one of the two opposite sides of the cushion; and b) each of the pair of arm rests coupling corresponding side frames of the different U-shaped frames to form the U-shaped cradle.

3. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the cushion is deflectable between a compressed position and an uncompressed position with the top of the cushion and the pair of arm rests being at substantially equal elevations when the cushion is in the uncompressed position.

4. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the top of the cushion is compressible to an elevation approximately half the elevation of the pair of arm rests when the cushion is deflected under an applied load.

5. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the elevation of the arm rests with respect to a base of the pair of U-shaped frames positions the arm rests in a user accessible position to provide lateral support to the user when the user sits or rises from the portable seat cushion device.

6. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the elevation of the cushion in an undeflected state is greater than about 6 inches.

7. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the elevation of the cushion in an undeflected state is approximately 8½ inches.

8. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the cushion includes a foam material configured to deflect under an applied load and store energy during deflection so as to resist deflection by providing a substantially opposite force to the applied load, and to assist a user rising from a sitting position on the cushion.

9. A device in accordance with claim 1, the cushion further including: a) a lower foam material disposed adjacent a base of the pair of U-shaped frames; b) an upper foam material disposed above the lower foam material; c) the upper and lower foam materials having different stiffness to provide different resistive forces to loads applied to the cushion.

10. A device in accordance with claim 9, wherein the lower foam material is relatively stiffer than the upper foam material.

11. A device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: a) a cushion cover, substantially enclosing the cushion; and b) a frame cover, substantially enclosing the pair of U-shaped frames and the pair of armrests.

12. A device in accordance with claim 11, wherein the cushion cover includes a moisture resistant barrier to protect a foam material of the cushion from liquids transferred to the cushion cover.

13. A device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: a) a handle, coupled to the cushion, and configured to lift the portable seat cushion device.

14. A device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: a) a non-slip surface, disposed below the cushion and U-shaped frames, and configured to resist inadvertent lateral movement of the portable seat cushion device.

15. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the pair of U-shaped frames includes a tubular frame member.

16. A device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the cushion is sizable to provide support to a user in a partial sitting or partial standing position.

17. A portable seat cushion device, configured to assist a user in rising from a seated position, comprising: a) a cushion configured to be sat upon; b) a pair of U-shaped frames extending adjacent a bottom and along two opposite sides of the cushion in a parallel, spaced apart relation with respect to one another; c) a pair of arm rests, each arm rest coupling different sides of the U-shaped frames; and d) the pair of arm rests and a top of the cushion being at substantially equal elevations.

18. A device in accordance with claim 17, the pair of U-shaped frames further comprising: a) a base frame extending adjacent a bottom of the cushion; b) a pair of upwardly extending side frames, each side frame coupled to an opposite side of the base frame and extending upward from the base frame along one of the two opposite sides of the cushion; and c) the side frames being configured to support an applied load during entry or exit of the cushion by the user.

19. A method for sitting and rising from a chair, comprising: a) placing a base of a U-shaped cradle of a portable sitting assistance device on a sitting surface with a cushion disposed above the base; b) grasping a pair arm rests disposed on opposite sides of the cushion, the arm rests being coupled to upwardly extending sides of the U-shaped cradle; c) lowering into a sitting position on the cushion while pushing against the pair of arm rests for support.

20. A method in accordance with claim 19, further comprising: a) raising from a sitting position by pushing downward on the pair of arm rests.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/838,537 filed on Aug. 10, 2006 which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to sitting aids and more particularly to portable sitting assistance devices.

2. Related Art

As people get older the joints of their extremities often begin cause pain due to degeneration, arthritis, brittle bones, broken bones, osteoporosis, and the like. For example, hip and knee joints often degenerate with age and cause pain during motion of the joint. Sometimes these joints require surgery to correct the degeneration, but even after the surgery bending or exercising of the joint can be painful during the recovery process.

This painful motion is especially problematic when a person is trying to sit down or stand up from a sitting position because the weight of the person is shifted from over the standing centerline of the spine and side frames. This shift in weight can cause a bending moment magnification of the actual weight of the person resulting increased stress and strain on the knee and hip joints. It will be appreciated that increasing the stress and strain on a degenerative or post operative joint can cause significant pain and result in damage to the joint bones and tissues.

Some chairs have been developed to assist a person sit or rise from a sitting position. These chairs generally have an electric motor that can raise and lower the chair. Thus, a user can raise the chair, move into a partial sitting position with the raised chair supporting the upper body, and then lower the chair to a normal sitting position. Similarly, when sitting, the user can raise the chair to a partial sitting position, with the chair providing support to the upper body until the user can stand independently from the chair. Unfortunately, such chairs are very large and heavy and cannot be easily transported with the patient.

Other devices have been developed that provide a cushion supported by a spring. The spring and cushion apparatus can be transported, and can be placed on any chair. When the user wants to sit, the spring can lift the cushion from the chair's normal sitting surface to a higher elevation to provide support to the user's lowering upper torso. Similarly, when rising to a standing position from a sitting position, the spring can assist the user by providing an upward force on the cushion. Unfortunately, the spring and related hardware can add significant weight to the device making it difficult to move. Additionally, when placed on a chair without arm rests, the user generally has nothing to hold onto and can become unbalanced or feel unstable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The inventors of the present invention have recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a portable, light weight device and method for assisting a person to sit or rise from a chair that provides support to the user when in a partial sitting position. In addition, the inventors of the present invention have recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a method and device for providing an elevated, deflectable or compressible sitting surface with hand holds or arm rests for lateral stabilization.

The invention provides a portable seat cushion device, or portable sitting assistance device including a cushion configured to be sat upon. The cushion can have at least one foam material that can deflect under an applied load and store energy during deflection. A U-shaped cradle can extend adjacent a bottom and along two opposite sides of the cushion in a parallel spaced apart relation with respect to one another. Each of a pair of arm rests can be coupled to a side frame of the U-shaped cradle.

In another aspect more detailed aspect of the present invention, the U-shaped cradle can include a pair of U-shaped frames in a parallel spaced apart relation with respect to one another and the arm rests can couple a side frame of one of the U-shaped frames to a corresponding side frame of the other of the U-shaped frame.

The present invention also provides for a method for sitting and rising from a chair including placing a base of a frame or cradle of a portable sitting assistance device on a sitting surface with a cushion disposed above the base. A pair arm rests on opposite sides of the portable sitting assistance device can be grasped. The arm rests can be coupled to sides of the frame or cradle. The method for sitting also includes lowering into a sitting position on the cushion while using or grasping the pair of arm rests for support. The method for rising can include rising from a sitting position by pushing downward on the pair of arm rests.

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.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable sitting assistance device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, show with a cut-away view of a cushion;

FIG. 2 is a perspective bottom view of the portable sitting assistance device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portable sitting assistance device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, shown with cut-away views of a cushion and a frame;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the portable sitting assistance device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the portable sitting assistance device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of the portable sitting assistance device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the portable sitting assistance device of FIG. 1, shown on a chair;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the portable sitting assistance device of FIG. 1, shown on a chair;

FIG. 9 is a cross sectional view of a portable sitting assistance device in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 10 is a cross sectional view of a portable sitting assistance device in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, 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. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

The embodiments of the present invention described herein generally provide for a portable seat cushion, or sitting assistance device, supported by an external or internal frame with arm rests or hand holds for lateral support to a user when in a partial sitting or standing position. The portable cushion device can have a cushion that can be configured to carry an applied load when a user sits on the cushion. Additionally, the cushion can have a sufficient height or elevation to provide support to the user when in a partial sitting or partial standing position. The portable cushion device can also have a frame or cradle disposed under and around at least a portion of the cushion. The cradle can be U-shaped and can be formed by a pair of U-shaped frames with a base of the U-shape extending adjacent a bottom of the cushion and sides frames or legs of the U-shape extending upward along opposite sides of the cushion. Arm rests can join corresponding side frames from each of the U-shaped frames along the opposite sides of the cushion. The arm rests can have an elevation approximately parallel or substantially the same elevation as the top of the cushion when the cushion is in an undeflected or uncompressed state.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1-2, a portable sitting assistance device, indicated generally at 10, in accordance with the present invention is shown for use in assisting a user in lowering into or rising from a seated position. The portable seat cushion 10 can include a cushion, indicated generally at 20, a cradle, indicated generally at 50, and a pair of arm rests 80.

The cushion 20 can be sized and shaped for a user to sit on the cushion. The cushion 20 can be generally quadrangular in shape having a bottom 22, opposing sides 24 and a top 26. The cushion can include open or closed cell foam 28, as known in the art. The foam 28 can deflect to a compressed state under an applied force. The foam 28 can be substantially elastomeric and can return to a natural uncompressed state.

The foam 28 can also have a sufficient density so as to provide a substantially opposite force to an applied force on the cushion 20. In this way, the foam 28 can resist deflection in response to a downward applied force when a user sits on the portable seat cushion 10. The foam 28 can also store the energy of the applied force and can release the stored energy when the downward applied force decreases in order to provide an upward force on the user when the user rises from the cushion 20. In this way, the foam 28 can act like a spring and can assist the user in rising from a seated position.

The cushion 20 can be removably coupleable to the cradle 50. For example, a strap 30 can be coupled to the cushion 20 and can be used to couple the cushion to the frame. The strap 30 can have a fastening system to secure the cushion 20 to the frame. For example, the strap can have a hook and loop type fastener, a snap, a button, a zipper or the like, to secure the cushion to the frame 50.

A cover 32 can substantially enclose the cushion 20, and the strap 30 can be coupled to the cover. The cover 32 can include a cloth material that can provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance to the cushion 20. The cover 32 can also include an elastomeric, rubber or plastic material to provide a moisture barrier for the foam 28 of the cushion 20 and to protect the cloth and cushion from undesirable staining or discoloration.

A handle 34 can also be coupled to the cushion 20 or the cover 32 to provide a convenient means for carrying the portable seat cushion 10. The handle 34 can be flexible so as to minimize interference between the handle and a sitting surface, chair, or side frames of the user when the user is sitting in the portable seat cushion 10.

The cradle 50 can have a U-shaped cross section with a base frame 52 forming a base of the U-shape adjacent the bottom 22 of the cushion 20. Upwardly extending side frames 54 can form legs of the U-shape, and can extend upward along two opposite sides 24 of the cushion. Thus, the base frame 52 and side frames 54 can form the U-shaped cradle 50 that can at least partially enclose the cushion 20.

As illustrated in FIGS. 3-8, another portable sitting assistance device 70 is shown in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The portable seat cushion device 70 can be similar in many respects to the seat cushion device 10 described above and shown in FIGS. 1-2. The portable seat cushion device 70 can include a cushion, indicated generally at 20, a cradle, indicated generally at 50, and a pair of arm rests 80.

Additionally, the cradle 50 can include a pair of U-shaped frames 56. The U-shaped frames 56 can be oriented in a substantially parallel, spaced apart relation with respect to one another. Each U-shaped frame 56 can extend adjacent a bottom 22 of the cushion 20. A base 58 of the U-shaped frames 56 can extend across and below the bottom 22 of the cushion as shown in FIGS. 3-5. Additionally, side frames 60 of the U-shaped frame 56 can extend adjacent to and upward along two opposite sides 24 of the cushion 20.

The U-shaped frames 56 can be made from a sufficiently strong material so as to provide a stable support for a person rising from the cushion 20. For example, the U-shaped frames 56 can be made of a tubular material 68 such as PVC tubing or pipe, round or square tubes, metal conduit or pipe, and the like. The U-shaped frames 56 can also be sufficiently strong so as to provide a resistive force to lateral deflection of the cushion 20 when the foam 28 compresses under the applied load of a user sitting on the cushion. In this way the frames 56 can reduce lateral expansion of the cushion 20 when the cushion is compressed, thereby increasing the resistance of the cushion to deflection and the spring like effect of the cushion returning to an uncompressed natural state as a user rises from the cushion.

A cover 66 can be disposed over the U-shaped cradle 50 and arm rests 80 to provide a soft, comfortable grip on the arm rests and frame as well as an aesthetically pleasing appearance. In one aspect, the cover 66 can be formed of a soft fabric that can enhance the appearance of the frame and protect the frame from degradation due to repeated use and handling.

A non-slip surface 76 can be disposed below the cushion 20, and U-shaped frames 56 or cradle 50 in order to resist inadvertent movement of the portable seat cushion device 10 when placed on a sitting surface such as a bench or chair, as shown in FIGS. 5-6. For example, a rubberized coating can be applied to a lower portion 64 of the base 52 of the cradle 50 or U-shaped frames 56. The non-slip surface 76 can also include a tread (not shown) that can grip the sitting surface and resist slipping by the portable seat cushion 10.

The pair of arm rests 80 can be coupled to the upward extending side frames 60 of the U-shaped frames 52. Each arm rest 80 can couple one of the side frames 54 of one of the U-shaped frames 56 to the corresponding side frame 54 of the other U-shaped frame 56, thereby joining each of the U-shaped frames 56 together along one of the opposite sides 24 of the cushion 20. For example, each arm rest 80 can be coupled to a top 60 of one side frame 54 of one of the U-shaped frames 56 and can extend to a top 60 of one side frame 54 of the other U-shaped frame 56. In this way, the arm rests 80 can form a second inverted U-shaped frame 90 along the two opposite sides 24 of the cushion 20.

The arm rests 80 can include a material that can provide sufficient strength in order to support an applied load during entry or exit of the cushion 20 by a user. For example, the arm rests can be formed of a structural plastic, metal, or composite material. The arm rests 80 can be sized and shaped to support the weight of a user grasping the arm rests 80 while lowering into the cushion 20. Similarly, the arm rests 80 can be sufficiently strong so as to support the weight of a user rising from the cushion, or to support a downward force exerted by a user pressing down on the arm rests 80 while rising from the cushion 20. In one aspect, the arm rests 80 can be formed from a tubular material such as PVC pipe, metal conduit, round or square tubing or the like. Advantageously, using a tubular material for both the cradle 50 and the arm rests 80 decreases the weight of the portable seat cushion and makes the portable seat cushion easily portable.

It is a particular advantage of the portable seat cushion 10 of the present invention that the armrests 80 can have an elevation substantially the same or approximately parallel to the elevation of the top 26 of the cushion 20 when the cushion is in an undeflected or uncompressed state. It will be appreciated that many older people suffer a loss of balance which can cause them to fall. This loss of balance can be exaggerated when moving through a partial sitting or partial standing position. Advantageously, with the height of the cushion 20 being near the placement of the hands on the arm rests 80 allows the user to know when they are in contact with the cushion 20, thereby providing a greater sense of balance throughout the sitting or standing motion.

Additionally, the armrests 80 can have an elevation approximately twice the height of the cushion 20 when the cushion 20 is deflected or compressed under the applied load of a user sitting on the cushion 20. In this way, the arm rests 80 are advantageously positioned in an accessible position for pushing down on the arm rests in order for a user to rise off of the cushion 20 when the user is sitting on the portable seat cushion 10.

In one aspect, the height or elevation of the cushion 20 in an undeflected or uncompressed state, with respect to the base 52 of the cradle 50, can be greater than approximately 6 inches. In another aspect, the height or elevation of the cushion 20 in an undeflected or uncompressed state, with respect to the base 52 of the cradle 50, can be between approximately 8 and 10 inches. In yet another aspect, the height or elevation of the cushion 20 in an undeflected or uncompressed state, with respect to the base 52 of the cradle 50, can be approximately 8½ inches. Other heights can also be used as needed by the user.

It is another particular advantage of the portable seat cushion device 10 of the present invention that the cushion 20 can be sizable, or have an adjustable size, in order to provide support to a user in a partial sitting/standing position. A partial sitting or standing position is a position in which a person's knees are bent at a greater than 90 degree angle while the person's weight remains solely supported on the side frames, arm rests, and the user's feet. It will be appreciated that a partial sitting or partial standing position can cause great strain on the knees, back and hips, and that a person with degenerative joints or post operative joints may not have sufficient strength to support a partial sitting or standing position. Advantageously, the cushion 20 of the present invention can be sized by adding or removing foam sections 28 so as to provide a greater or lesser elevation or height of the cushion 20 in order to enable the cushion to engage the user's legs and support the upper side frames when the user bends into a partial sitting or standing position. Thus, the height of the cushion 20 and the location of the arm rests 80 can provide a stable sitting and rising structure that can support an invalid user.

Additionally, the seat cushion device of the present invention can also be used as a height enhancing chair to support a small child. For example, the cushion 20 can be sized to lift a child to a sufficient height to access a table, or to a height convenient for receiving a hair cut when in a salon chair.

In use, the portable seat cushion device 10 can be placed on a sitting surface such as a chair 98, as shown in FIGS. 7-8. The user can turn to position the chair 98 and portable seat cushion device 10 behind the user's back. The user can then bend into a partial sitting position and can grasp the arm rests 80 for support. The user can then lower into the portable seat cushion 10 so that the foam 28 can deflect to the compressed state. To rise out of the seat, the user can grasp the arm rests 80 and exert a downward force on the arm rests to rise into a partial standing position. The foam 28 of the cushion 20 can exert an upward force on the user as the foam returns to an uncompressed state. Once in a standing position, the user can remove the portable seat cushion 10 from the sitting surface.

As illustrated in FIG. 9, another portable seat cushion device 100 is shown in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The portable seat cushion device 100 can be similar in many respects to the seat cushion device 10 and 70 described above and shown in FIGS. 1-8. Additionally, the seat cushion device 100 can include a frame, indicated generally at 150, with a base 152 that can extend through a lower portion 118 of a foam 128 material in a cushion, indicated generally at 120. In this way, a bottom 122 of the cushion can rest against the sitting surface as opposed to the frame 150.

As illustrated in FIG. 10, another portable seat cushion device 200 is shown in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The portable seat cushion device 200 can be similar in many respects to the seat cushion devices 10 and 100 described above and shown in FIGS. 1-9.

Additionally, the seat cushion device 200 can include a cushion, indicated generally at 220, having a plurality of foam sections 228. In one aspect, the cushion 220 can have two foam sections 228 and 229 that can have different densities that can provide different stiffness to each of the foam sections 228 and 229. Moreover, the foam sections 228 and 229 can be configured to provide a softer, more compressive foam on top and a stiffer more resilient or spring like foam on the bottom. In this way, a multiple density cushion 220 can provide a softer sitting section 228 and a more spring like section 229 with a greater upward, compression resistive force for assisting a user when rising from the cushion 220. Additionally, more or fewer foam sections can be added as necessary to accommodate the size of the user.

The present invention also provides for a method for manufacturing a portable sitting assistance device including forming a cradle or frame having a U-shaped cross section. A cushion can be sized to fit within the U-shaped cradle or frame. The cushion can be placed within the U-shape of the U-shaped cradle or frame.

The present invention also provides for a method for sitting and rising from a chair including placing a base of a U-shaped frame or cradle of a portable sitting assistance device on a sitting surface with a cushion disposed above the base. A pair arm rests disposed on opposite sides of the cushion can be grasped. The arm rests can be coupled to upwardly extending sides of the U-shaped frame or cradle. The method for sitting also includes lowering into a sitting position on the cushion while using or grasping the pair of arm rests for support. The method for rising can include rising from a sitting position by pushing downward on the pair of arm rests.

It is to be understood that the above-referenced arrangements are only illustrative of the application for the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements can be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. While the present invention has been shown in the drawings and fully described above with particularity and detail in connection with what is presently deemed to be the most practical and preferred embodiment(s) of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications can be made without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention as set forth herein.





 
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