Title:
Walking frame
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A walking frame provided with a frame that is supported on a number of wheels, and a harness for supporting the user of the walking frame, whereby that the harness is connected to the frame by a spring system which is orientated so that on the one hand it provides vertical support for the user, and on the other exerts a horizontal spring action in the forward direction of movement.



Inventors:
Vanmanshoven, Jan (Zonhoven, BE)
Application Number:
11/655064
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/19/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D13/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MATHEW, FENN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WENDEROTH, LIND & PONACK, L.L.P. (1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 500, Washington, DC, 20036, US)
Claims:
1. 1-3. (canceled)

5. A walking frame comprising: a frame: a plurality of wheels supporting the frame; a harness for supporting a user of the walking frame; a spring system connecting the harness to the frame, wherein the spring system provides vertical support for the user and exerts a horizontal spring action on the user in a direction of forward movement.

6. The walking frame according to claim 5, wherein the spring system exerts a force in a direction which forms an angle of 40 to 50 degrees to a plane of forward movement.

7. The walking frame according to claim 5, wherein the force of the spring system is adjustable.

8. The walking frame according to claim 6, wherein the force of the spring system is adjustable.

Description:

The invention relates to a walking frame provided with a frame that is supported on a number of wheels and a harness for supporting the user of the walking frame.

Such a walking frame is generally of prior art.

In the walking frame of prior art, the user is generally supported vertically by means of a harness which is secured around his/her chest and is also supported by the frame of the walking frame. This prevents the user from assuming a kind of suspended position and there is no encouragement for the user to move forward or walk.

The object of the invention is to provide a walking frame of the above-mentioned type which encourages the user to walk.

This object is achieved according to the invention in that the harness is connected to the frame by means of a spring system which is orientated so that on the one hand it provides a vertical support for the user and on the other has a horizontal resilience in the direction of forward movement.

Because the spring system not only has the vertical component but also a horizontal component, the user is pushed forward, so to speak, causing the user to be pushed off balance, as it were, and is encouraged to take one step forward. As the user moves forward, this effect is increased.

The spring system preferably consists of a spring which forms an angle of 40 to 50 degrees to the plane of movement of the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other characteristics and advantages will become clear from the following description with reference to the attached drawings. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view, partially in side elevation and partially as a rear view, of an orthopedic walking frame according to the invention;

FIG. 2 shows a perspective front view of the walking frame shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view, partially as a rear view and partially in side elevation, of the walking frame shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The walking frame such as that shown in FIGS. 1-3 comprises a U-shaped, bent tube 1, the surface of which, when the walking frame is in use, extends at an angle of approx. 45° to the surface on which the walking frame is to move. A tube section 2 and 3 respectively is secured to each free end of U-shaped tube 1, which tube section extends almost vertically when the walking frame is in use. A wheel, 4 and 5, is mounted at each tube end 2 and 3 respectively, so that each wheel 4, 5 rotates about a horizontal axis during the forward movement of the walking frame, and the whole of each wheel, consisting of the wheel, shaft and support strap is connected rotatably around a vertical axis to the associated tube section 2, 3.

A tube section 6, 7 is also secured to each leg of U-shaped tube 1. Each tube section 6,7 extends mainly outwards at an angle of approx. 90° to the surface of the U-shaped tube in the upward direction in the normal operating position of the walking frame. Tube sections 6, 7 may possibly be connected to the legs of the U-shaped tube so that this angle is adjustable and so that when the walking frame is in use, the position of the tube sections can be adapted to the user of the walking frame. Handles 8, 9, made for example from rubber or plastic, are fitted to the free ends of tube sections 6, 7, in order to improve and facilitate the grip of the user.

A straight tube 10 is connected to the U-shaped tube near the central point of the bent part of U-shaped tube 1. The connection between tubes 1 and 10 is detachable so that the two tubes can be rotated relative to each other when a clamping mechanism is released, whereas in the fixed position of the clamping mechanism the connection between tubes 1 and 10 is locked. This enables the two sections to be rotated relative to each other so that tube 10 lies in the plane of U-shaped tube 1 and the walking frame is folded up, so to speak. Such a clamping mechanism may be obtained quite simply, for example, by connecting tube 10 rotatably, by means of a bush, to tube 1 and by securing in position, over bush 1, a circular plate which can be connected by a pin or the like to tube 10. For this purpose, holes may be made in the circular plate around its periphery and a corresponding hole made in tube 10. The angle between tubes 1 and 10 can therefore be adjusted, even when the position between the tubes is fixed.

A cross tube 11, which extends horizontally in the normal position of use of the walking frame, is mounted on the lower end of tube 10. A vertically directed tube section 12, 13 is secured to each free end of cross tube 11. The section 12, 13 has a respective wheel assembly 14, 15 mounted thereto. In principle, this wheel assembly is identical to assemblies 4 and 5, except that wheels 14, 15 cannot swivel but are rigid in terms of their orientation.

A brake lever 16 is secured near the top of tube 10. The brake lever is connected by a cable to a braking mechanism of prior art on wheels 14 and 15. The brake lever is designed so that it can be fixed in different positions to ensure that a controllable braking force is exerted on wheels 14, 15. This enables the force which must be exerted by the user to push the walking frame forward to be adjusted. Moreover, it may help the user to maintain forward movement in case the walking frame has the tendency to move backwards as a result of the spring action.

A rod 20, which rests with its lower end on a spring, not shown, fitted inside tube 10, is inserted in tube 10. To ensure that rod 20 is guided correctly inside tube 10, the inside of the top section of the tube is provided with rollers to form an axial bearing, so to speak, for rod 20. Means are fitted near the bottom of tube 10 for adjusting the force of the spring. This enables the resilience of the spring to be adapted to the weight and capabilities of the user. The spring can be a conventional helical spring, but otherwise pneumatic of hydraulic springs may be used as well.

The top of the rod is hinged to a plate 21, which is, in turn, again connected to a harness 22 of flexible material. Harness 22 consists of a U-shaped section provided with straps so that a user can be secured in harness 22, as generally known in the care of handicapped or spastic patients. The support strap may also possibly be provided with fastening mechanisms for support mechanisms for the lower limbs of the user.

In case improved stability is required, it is possible to add another tube parallel to tube 10 and connected thereto and another rod parallel to rod 20 and connected thereto. By this parallel guiding system, improved stability can be obtained.

The use of the walking frame according to the invention is intrinsically clear. After the user is secured in harness 22 of the walking frame he or she may or may not be assisted by a third person to take his or her first steps. During these steps, the spring will always be compressed for part of each step, and will then retract. This gives the user the feeling of being supported so that he or she gains more confidence in moving, whilst at the same time he or she receives a push in the back which brings him or her off balance, encouraging him or her to take the next step to recover his or her balance. The process is then repeated.

Experiments with subjects with spastic abnormalities have demonstrated that after a short introductory and practice period, they are able to move independently without problem after being secured in the walking frame, and are free to choose the direction of their movements.

It is clear that the invention is not limited to the embodiment described and reproduced but that numerous modifications can be made within the scope of the claim.