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This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/941,660 filed Nov. 16, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully cited herein.
Exemplary embodiments of the present invention relate generally to an exercise apparatus. More specifically, exemplary embodiments of the present invention relate to exercise apparatus for musculoskeletal physical therapy and rehabilitation purposes. Exemplary embodiments of the present invention particularly, but not exclusively, use a combination of weights, a structure to secure the weights thereto, and a means to suspend the weights wherein the suspended weight is adapted to have motion in the x, y, and z axis during an exercise movement that results in decreased joint pain during physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises.
Physical therapy is an important component to restore, maintain and develop normal and healthy movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan of people and populations. As the average lifespan of humans continually increases, physical therapy is becoming more and more important in today's society as a necessary component for restoring, maintaining and developing the musculoskeletal health of persons. Physical therapy exercises strive to restore, maintain or develop an individual's optimal level of muscular strength, endurance, coordination, flexibility and/or mobility. The motivation for people to participate in physical therapy that will maintain and/or improve their movement and function may be from the process from injury, of aging or disease. Some of the main goals of physical therapy are to identify and maximize the potential ability for maximum movement in any person, within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
There are many benefits from when a person enhances their muscle strength, coordination and flexibility from physical therapy. Some of the key benefits of physical therapy are: increased and maintained muscle strength and endurance, restored and increased joint range of motion, increased coordination, decreased pain, decreased muscle spasm and plasticity, decreased swelling and inflammation of joints, promoted healing of soft tissue lesions, prevented contracture and deformity of limbs, alleviated walking problems, and decreased stress. These are but a few of the benefits of physical therapy.
Consequently, it can be understood that there is a need for an improved apparatus for physical therapy and joint rehabilitation. An apparatus is needed that will allow a patient to perform multiple different exercises, where the patient experiences increased exploitation of stabilization muscles along with decreased swelling and inflammation of joints. An apparatus is further needed which is portable for ease of transportation and use. Also, an apparatus is needed that is simple to assemble as well as simple to use by a therapist or patient. Additionally, an apparatus is coveted that is aesthetically pleasing. An exemplary apparatus of the present invention may satisfy some or all of these needs.
Further features of examples of the invention will be described or will become apparent in the course of the following detailed description.
In addition to the features mentioned above, other aspects of the present invention will be readily apparent from the following descriptions of the drawings and exemplary embodiments, wherein like reference numerals across the several views refer to identical or equivalent features, and wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one of the exemplary embodiments of an exercise apparatus.
FIG. 2 is an elevate end view of one of the exemplary embodiments of an exercise apparatus.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of one of the exemplary embodiments of an exercise apparatus.
Referring to FIG. 1, here is one example of how the invention may be arranged. In one situation, the lifting apparatus is shown where there is a barbell 100 with an inner portion diameter 102 and an outer portion diameter 104, where a weight 106 may be securedly attached to the outer portion 104 by an elastic band 108. The inner portion 102 of the barbell 100 is fiberglass tubing and the outer portion 104 is solid wood. In other embodiments, the inner portion 102 may be made of any number of materials that are strong enough to both support tensile and compressive forces along with having lightweight, flexible and high fatigue characteristics, including, but not limited to the materials of: polyvinyl chloride, carbon fiber, wood, metals and other suitable plastics. Also, in other embodiments, the outer portion 104 may be made of any number of materials strong enough to support suspending the weight and also being lightweight, such as, but not limited to the materials of: fiberglass, carbon fiber, wood, metals and plastics. In one example, the overall weight of the barbell 100 is preferred to be very lightweight compared to the mass of the weight 106. The higher the ratio of the weight 106 mass to the barbell 100 mass, the greater the motion produced and preferred for ideal rehabilitation purposes.
The motion produced in the x, y, and z axis may be either slight or pronounced and may appear to be chaotic, erratic or unpredictable. Various factors including the materials of the structure and means for suspending the weight, the amount of weight used, etc., may affect the amount of motion that occurs while the user moves the apparatus. However, if one skilled in the art were to have the right parameters regarding the motion of the structure from the user, the material properties, shape and size of the apparatus, etc., one skilled in the art may be able to make a close prediction of the actual motion of the apparatus that occurs.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, in an exemplary embodiment, the outer portion 104 may have perpendicular slots 110 that divide the outer portion into equal quadrants. The slots 110 run from the end of the barbell 100 to a length not as long as the outer portion 104. The slots 110 are large enough to allow an elastic band 108 to be slid into position in the slots 110, but still small enough to restrict the movement of the elastic band 108 after the elastic band 108 is positioned into the slots 110. Although one embodiment uses perpendicular slots 110 inside the outer portion 104 of a barbell 100, this should not limit the numerous other ways that the elastic band 108 may be secured to the barbell 100 or equivalent structure. Another embodiment is where the outer portion 104 of the barbell 100 has no slots 110 and the elastic band 108 is positioned directly around the outer portion 104. A third embodiment is where an additional apparatus protrudes or suspends from the outer portion 104 of the barbell 100, where a C-shaped clip or other apparatus may be attached to the additional apparatus so that the elastic bands are easily secured or clipped into and out of the additional apparatus, much like a quick-release. Yet another embodiment is where the slots 110 run parallel through the outer portion 104 of the barbell 100. In other embodiments, the slots 110 may be able to pass through the barbell 100 or similar structure at many other different geometries, as long as the elastic band 108 or other means for suspending the weight 106 are able to be held within the slots 110.
Referring to FIG. 3, here is another example how the invention may be arranged. The lifting apparatus is shown where there is a boot 120 where a weight 106 may be securedly attached by an elastic band 108. The boot 120 securedly attaches to the user's foot and lower leg by the use of strap 118 attached to the boot. The strap 118 is placed through a fixed loop 120 located on the boot 120 and brought over upon itself and is secured with a material such as the type marketed under the trademark Velcro on the strap 118. The boot 120 may have metal protrusions 122 where the elastic band 108 is attached thereto. In other embodiments, the protrusions 122 may be made of numerous other materials.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, in an exemplary embodiment, the elastic band 108 may directly connect the structure to the weight 106. The elastic band 108 provides much of the motion desired from the lifting apparatus. In one commercial embodiment, the elastic band 108 used is commercially produced by Jump-Stretch Inc., found at www.jumpstretch.com. The elastic band 108 produced by Jump-Stretch Inc. used in one commercial embodiment is forty inches long and ½ inch wide. Other embodiments may use other means for suspending the weight 106 that causes a motion similar to the motion caused by a weight 106 being suspended by an elastic band 108. In one exemplary embodiment, the higher the elasticity of the means for suspending the weight, the more erratic, chaotic and unpredictable the motion produced appears and the more the motion may be preferred for ideal rehabilitation purposes because the motion increases the strength of the joint stabilizing muscles. When the motion of the apparatus discontinues, the weight 106 suspended and the elastic band 108 return to the original suspended position of the weight 106 before the motion occurred.
Referring to FIG. 1, in an exemplary embodiment, the weight 106 used is commercially available from a multitude of different vendors. One such commercial vendor is Iron Woody Fitness Equipment, found at www.ironwoodyfitness.com. The weight 106 is a commercial steel-forged plate that comes in universal sizes. The weight 106 is vinyl coated for rust protection and aesthetics. Further, the weight 106 is color-coordinated to indicate the mass of the weight 106. In another embodiment, the weight 106 is a kettlebell that also comes in known universal sizes and may be vinyl-coated and color-coordinated. Other embodiments may use other similar or otherwise suitable weight 106.
From the above discussion, it will be appreciated that the exemplary embodiments disclosed provide a novel apparatus used for exercising and more specifically, rehabilitation purposes. The apparatus may have many benefits. The apparatus may allow a user to perform multiple different known exercises normally used during lifting and rehabilitation. These exercises include, but are not limited to: curls, bench press, good-mornings, skull-crushers, upright rows, leg curls, leg extensions, etc. Further, the apparatus may exploit the stabilization muscles of the joints to be built up and rehabilitated which results in enhanced rehabilitation. Further, the apparatus may reduce the swelling and inflammation of the joints during and after performing the aforementioned exercises when compared to similar exercise equipment commercially available. Additionally, the apparatus may be portable for ease of transportation and use. Also, the apparatus may be simple to assemble as well as simple to use by a therapist or patient. Moreover, an example of the apparatus may be aesthetically pleasing.
While certain embodiments of the present invention are described in detail above, the scope of the invention is not to be considered limited by such disclosure, and modifications are possible without departing from the spirit of the invention as evidenced by the following claims: