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This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/895,380, filed on Mar. 16, 2007, and incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates to mats, and more particularly to a kneeling mat for use with a bathtub.
Numerous innovations for cushion pads have been provided in the prior art that will be described. Even though these innovations may be suitable for the specific individual purposes to which they address, they differ from the present invention.
A FIRST EXAMPLE, U.S. Patent Office Document No. 4,356,575, issued on Nov. 2, 1982, to Terry teaches a cushioned or padded kneeling appliance particularly adapted for use in association with a bathtub when it is desired to reach into the interior area of the bathtub to perform some utilitarian function, such as bathing an infant, cleaning the tub, or the like. The device includes a rigid frame having a generally horizontally disposed lower cushion or pad oriented outwardly of a alongside the lower outer surface of a bathtub wall and an upper cushion or pad overlying the top edge portion of the bathtub wall to enable a person using the device to kneel on the lower pad and lean on the upper pad thereby reducing discomfort which would occur if a person kneeled on the tile floor of the bathroom or the like and leaned against the top edge portion of a bathtub wall. The pads or cushions are removable for cleaning or replacement and the frame is of sectional construction to enable it to be disassembled for storage in a compact condition and capable of vertical adjustment for use with bathtub walls having different heights.
A SECOND EXAMPLE, U.S. Patent Office Document No. 4,385,408, issued on May 31, 1983, to Rhodes teaches a sanitary cushioning device for sink bowl edges that includes a platform having a first and a second leg extending downwardly approximately perpendicular with respect thereto to define a slot therebelow. The slot is adapted to receive a sink bowl edge such as often found in a beauty parlor or haircutting salon. The device cushions the edge of the sink such that when a customer places his head in the sink bowl for washing the back of his neck will be cushioned for comfort. The device is usable with a great variety of different types of sink configurations due to the thick, soft resilient nature of the material. A water repellent covering is detachably securable onto the device to prevent water from contacting the foam rubber material. The device is held in place and the water resistant covering is held in place on the sink edge by the inwardly directed bias of the resilient foam rubber downwardly extending legs.
A THIRD EXAMPLE, U.S. Patent Office Document No. 4,937,897, issued on Jul. 3, 1990, to Barnabie teaches a kneeling pad for use at bathtubs which includes a water resistant sheeting and a plurality of cushions secured to the sheeting at spaced portions for kneeling and leaning on and so as to be foldable and having a pocket for holding articles used in the bath.
A FOURTH EXAMPLE, U.S. Patent Office Document No. 5,313,675, issued on May 24, 1994, to Tinen teaches a portable one-piece bath aid device for use in conjunction with a bathtub wherein the bath aid device assists one in the bathing of another. The bath aid device has a kneeling section and an elbow rest section to provide comfort to the user and has a storage area which may contain various bathing articles such as shampoos, soaps and cloths commonly used in bathing to provide convenience to the user.
A FIFTH EXAMPLE, U.S. Patent Office Document No. 5,551,101, issued on Sep. 3, 1996, to Leach teaches a bath mat that provides a portable device for converting a typical bathtub into a safe, more user-friendly environment for bathing infants/preschoolers or individuals with impaired mobility. The bath mat provides both a system for catching fluids that splash over a top rim of the bathtub while bathing and a padded surface to cover the top rim of the bathtub to ease discomfort of the parent or care giver who must lean over the bathtub. The bath mat is designed so that attachments for the convenience and entertainment of the bather and the care giver (such as toys, cartoon characters, brushes, etc.), can be removably attached to the bath mat. In addition, the bath mat provides surfaces for receiving the buttocks and head of individuals who may require support from a care giver.
A SIXTH EXAMPLE, U.S. Patent Office Document No. 6,951,035, issued on Oct. 4, 2005, to Kinchen et al. teaches a protective cushion which includes an outer shell enclosing a pad comprising high-density foam. The cushion provides protection to a user's knees, such as while praying or meditating. The outer shell of the cushion is water-resistant, stain-resistant, and able to withstand excessive wear and tear. Further, the outer shell comprises designs, pictures, and text to aid the user in prayer or other worship activities. The cushion can be foldable and portable with a carrying handle provided for this purpose.
It can be appreciated that cushion pads have been in use for many years. Typically, cushion pads are:
The main problem with conventional cushion pads are none of them incorporate a feature that will reduce back muscle stress. Another problem with conventional cushion pads is the user may get sore knees and/or knee fatigue. Another problem with conventional cushion pads is the knee cushion may slide out on the floor if the user leans too far forward. Customer reviews of existing cushion pads on the market frequently state shortcomings of discomfort, causing backaches, weight limits, safety issues and cleaning difficulties.
It is apparent now that numerous innovations for cushion pads have been provided in the prior art that are adequate for various purposes. Furthermore, even though these innovations may be suitable for the specific individual purposes to which they address, accordingly, they would not be suitable for the purposes of the present invention as heretofore described.
AN OBJECT of the present invention is to provide a bath aid that avoids the disadvantages of the prior art.
ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention is to provide a bath aid that is simple and inexpensive to manufacture.
STILL ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention is to provide a bath aid that is simple to use.
BRIEFLY STATED, STILL YET ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention is to provide a bath aid for supporting a person kneeling at a bathtub. The bath aid comprises a lower pad, a middle pad, and an upper pad which includes a tub attachment mechanism fixed to a bottom surface thereof. A first hinge mechanism pivotally connects a front edge of the lower pad to a lower edge of the middle pad. A second hinge mechanism pivotally connects an upper edge of the middle pad to a lower edge of the upper pad. The bottom surface of the lower pad rests on a floor surface, while the bottom surface of the upper pad may be fixed to the bathtub by the tub attachment mechanism when in an open position. The novel features which are considered characteristic of the present invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its construction and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood from the following description of the specific embodiments when read and understood in connection with the accompanying drawing.
The Figures of the drawings are briefly described as follows:
FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of the present invention in a closed position;
FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of the invention being opened;
FIG. 3 is a side perspective view of the invention in a fully opened position;
FIG. 4 is a rear view of the invention in the open position;
FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of the invention in the open position against the bathtub; and
FIG. 6 is a side view of the invention in the open position against the bathtub, showing a person kneeling thereon.
Referring now to the figures, in which like numerals indicate like parts, and particularly to FIGS. 1 through 6, the present invention, will be discussed with reference thereto. A bath aid 10 is provided for supporting a person 20 kneeling at a bathtub 30. The bath aid 10 comprises a lower pad 40 that has a top surface 44, a bottom surface 46, and at least one peripheral edge 45 connecting the top and bottom surfaces 44, 46. A middle pad 50 has a top surface 54, a bottom surface 56 and at least one peripheral edge 55 connecting the top and bottom surfaces 54, 56. An upper pad 60 has a top surface 64, a bottom surface 66 and at least one peripheral edge 65 connecting the top and bottom surfaces 64. 66. The upper pad 60 includes a tub attachment mechanism 70 fixed to the bottom surface 66 thereof. A first hinge mechanism 80 pivotally connects a front edge 41 of the lower pad 40 to a lower edge 51 of the middle pad 50, while a second hinge mechanism 90 pivotally connects an upper edge 53 of the middle pad 50 to a lower edge 61 of the upper pad 60. The bottom surface 46 of the lower pad 40 rests on a floor surface 35, while the bottom surface 66 of the upper pad 60 may be fixed to the bathtub 30 by the tub attachment mechanism 70 when in an open position 100.
The lower pad 40 includes at least one contoured knee depression 120 in the top surface 44 thereof. The top surface 44 and the rearward edge 43 of the peripheral edge 45 may also include a finger recess 200 for facilitating separation of the lower pad 40 from the middle pad 50 (FIG. 2). The first and second hinge mechanisms 80,90 may be each at least one flexible length of water resistant material 130 adhered to two of the pads 40, 50 or 50, 60. Each pad 40, 50 and 60 may further include at least one pad fastener 140, whereby the bath aid 10 may be selectively fixed in a closed position 110.
The tub attachment mechanism 70, as shown in FIG. 4, may be a suction cup 150 fixed to the upper pad 60. The middle pad 50 may include a recessed area 160 on the top surface 54 thereof for receiving the suction cup 150 of the upper pad 60 when the bath aid 10 is in the closed position 110, whereby the top surface 54 of the middle pad 50 may make a substantially full contact with the bottom surface 66 of the upper pad 60.
A side edge 52 of the peripheral edge 55 of the middle pad 50 may include at least one handle mechanism 170. The handle mechanism 170 may be a length of flexible cord 180 having two ends 185, in which each end 185 is fixed within the middle pad 50. The bottom surface 46 of the lower pad 40 may include at least one high-friction non-slip surface material 190.
An upper edge 63 of the peripheral edge 65 of the upper pad 60 may include a finger recess 200 for facilitating removal of the tub attachment mechanism 70 from the bathtub 30. The width WU of the peripheral edge 65 of the upper pad 60 is larger than the width WM of the peripheral edge 55 of the middle pad 50. Preferably, the widths WU, WL of the peripheral edge 65 of the upper and lower pads 60,40, respectively, are substantially identical and larger than the width WM of the peripheral edge 55 of the middle pad 50. A stiffener 210 may be fixed within the lower pad 40 proximate a rearward edge 43 of the peripheral edge 45 thereof, while a stiffener 210 may be fixed within the upper pad 60 proximate the upper edge 63 of the peripheral edge 65 thereof.
The lower, middle and upper pads 40, 50 and 60 can be fabricated out of Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) Polyethylene foam. When formulated into a closed cell foam product, it takes on the following characteristics: 1) good weather and chemical resistance; 2) lower water absorption; 3) oil resistance; 4) high energy absorption; 5) environmentally friendly; and 6) safe disposal by recycling, dumping or incineration. EVA Polyethylene foam readily accepts paint, glues and various finishes. Other materials, including plastic, foams, etc., can be used to construct the bath aid 10, however, none have proven as adequate or cost-effective for this application as EVA Polyethylene foam. For example, Polyurethane foam is highly flammable. EVA Polyethylene foam is relatively dense and can be found in many commercial applications from handle grips to flotation safety devices to sports safety equipment.
Preferably, all three of the pads 40, 50 and 60 are of the same outer dimensions, which are 17½″ long and 7¼″ deep. The lower and upper pads 40, 60 are of identical width, that being 1½″. The middle pad 50 has a width of 1″. This gives the bath aid 10 a rectangular shape when closed and a overall dimension of 17½″, 7¼″ deep and a uniform width of 4″.
The hinge mechanisms 80 and 90 can be made of a rubber-coated cotton/polyester blend iron-on fabric mending tape. The bath aid 10 uses the two hinge mechanisms 80 and 90 in somewhat of an “accordion” manner to permanently connected the lower, middle and upper pads 40, 50 and 60. The hinge mechanisms 80 and 90 can be made of iron-on fabric mending tape approximately 1″ wide and 16½″ long. The material itself can be a sturdy cotton and polyester blend with a very strong iron-on adhesive backing. When applied correctly, it bonds to the foam pads in such a manner that it will not pull away or separate even when the bath aid 10 is used in a overly forceful manner. The hinge mechanisms 80 and 90 can be coated with several layers of a permanent rubber coating, thereby making them waterproof and further increasing the strength of their bond. The adhesive component of the iron-on material works best when applied to porous and semi-porous materials. Examples would be EVA Polyethylene foam as well as fabrics, both synthetic and natural, of many types.
1. Person 20 inserts fingers into finger recess 200 and lightly pulls in each direction, which will open the bath aid 10 by unfastening the pad fasteners 140 (See FIG. 2).
2. Person 20 folds out the bath aid 10 (See FIG. 3).
3. Person 20 places middle and upper pads 50, 60 parallel to outer wall of bathtub 30 and gently pushes middle of upper pad 60 against outer wall of bathtub 30 to attach suction cup 150 (See FIGS. 5 and 6).
4. With the bath aid 10 now firmly in place, the person 20 kneels down into the corresponding left and right knee depressions 120, positioning knees forward to the point where they touch the now vertical middle pad 50 and therefore create a counterbalancing angle (See FIG. 6).
5. When bathing task is complete, person 20 inserts fingers into finger recess 200 at upper edge 63 of upper pad 60 and pulls back to release suction cup 150 from outer wall of bathtub 30. As the suction cup 150 is firmly affixed into the upper pad 60 with a high strength adhesive, the person 30 should not experience any failure of the suction cup 150 tearing out of the upper pad 60.
It will be understood that each of the elements described above, or two or more together, may also find a useful application in other types of constructions differing from the type described above. While the invention has been illustrated and described as embodiments of a bath aid, accordingly it is not limited to the details shown, since it will be understood that various omissions, modifications, substitutions and changes in the forms and details of the device illustrated and its operation can be made by those skilled in the art without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.
Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that, from the standpoint of prior art, fairly constitute characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention.