Title:
VERSATILE WALKING CANE AND ACCESSORY THEREFOR
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An accessory device for a cane includes complementary pieces that collectively include at least one of an upward- and/or downward-extending prong positioned to be spaced from the cane's body. These pieces are securable to a shaft of a cane body, e.g., by fastening the pieces to one another by an adjustable strap or bolts/nuts. The downward-extending prong(s) enable the cane to be hooked over and hung from a pocket etc. of the user to free the user's hands from having to support the cane. The upward-extending prong(s) enable another object, such as a bag or purse, to be hung from the cane/accessory device, and thus frees the user's hands from having to carry the bag, etc. while the cane, etc. is in use. Alternatively, the prongs may be formed integrally with the cane, walker, etc. A cane and walker including such prongs are provided also.


Inventors:
Bailar, Benjamin (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Application Number:
14/175614
Publication Date:
09/11/2014
Filing Date:
02/07/2014
Assignee:
BAILAR BENJAMIN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B9/00
View Patent Images:
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Foreign References:
EP2505097
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A walking cane comprising: an elongated rigid cane body having an upper end and a lower end, the cane body comprising a handle disposed proximally to its upper end; and at least one rigid prong mounted to said cane body intermediate said upper and lower ends of said cane body, said prong being spaced from said cane body.

2. The walking cane of claim 1, wherein said at least one rigid prong extends substantially parallel to said cane body.

3. The walking cane of claim 1, wherein said prong is mounted to extend generally upwardly toward said upper end.

4. The walking cane of claim 1, wherein said prong is mounted to extend generally downwardly toward said lower end.

5. The walking cane of claim 1, wherein said walking cane comprises a pair of prongs, one of said pair of prongs being mounted to extend generally upwardly toward said upper end, another of said pair of prongs being mounted to extend generally downwardly toward said lower end.

6. The walking cane of claim 5, wherein said prongs of said pair of prongs are positioned on one side of said cane body.

7. The walking cane of claim 5, wherein said prongs of said pair of prongs are positioned on opposite sides of said cane body.

8. The walking cane of claim 1, wherein said walking cane comprises first and second pairs of prongs, one of said first pair and one of said second pair of prongs being mounted to extend generally upwardly toward said upper end, another of said first pair and said second pair of prongs being mounted to extend generally downwardly toward said lower end, said second pair of prongs being positioned on said cane body opposite said first pair of prongs.

9. The walking cane of claim 1, wherein said prongs of said pair of prongs are formed integrally with said cane body.

10. A hand-graspable device for supporting a human while walking or standing, said device comprising: an elongated rigid body having an upper end and a lower end, the body comprising a handle disposed proximally to its upper end; and at least one rigid prong mounted to said body intermediate said upper and lower ends of said body, said prong being spaced from said body.

11. The hand-graspable device of claim 10, wherein said rigid body is part of a walking cane.

12. The hand-graspable device of claim 10, wherein said rigid body is part of a walker.

13. A walking cane comprising: an elongated rigid cane body having an upper end and a lower end, the cane body comprising a handle disposed proximally to its upper end; and an accessory device mounted to said cane body intermediate said upper and lower ends of said cane body, said accessory device comprising: a first member comprising a first collar structure and at least a first prong; and a second member comprising a second collar structure and at least a second prong; said collar structures of said first and second members being joinable to one another to secure said first and second members to said cane body in a position whereby each of said prongs is spaced from said cane body.

14. The walking cane of claim 13, wherein said collar structures of said first and second members are joinable to secure said first and second members to said cane body in a position whereby each of said prongs extends substantially parallel to said cane body.

15. The walking cane of claim 14, wherein said first and second collar structures are joinable by screws.

16. The walking cane of claim 14, wherein said first and second collar structures define openings for receiving a respective bolt, and said first and second collar structures are joinable by nuts and bolts.

17. The walking cane of claim 13, wherein said first and second collar structures are joinable by a flexible strap.

18. The walking cane of claim 13, wherein each of said first and second collar structures defines a curved surface configured to extend circumferentially around and embrace a tubular frame member.

19. The walking cane of claim 13, wherein each of said first and second collar structures defines a channel having a linear edge configured to extending longitudinally along and abut an elongated frame member.

20. An accessory device for mounting to a hand-graspable device for supporting a human while walking or standing, said accessory device comprising: a first member comprising a first collar structure and at least a first prong; and a second member comprising a second collar structure and at least a second prong; said collar structures of said first and second members being joinable to one another to secure said first and second members to said hand-graspable device in a position whereby each of said prongs is spaced from said hand-graspable device when secured between said collar structures.

21. The accessory device of claim 20, wherein said first and second prongs extend in opposite directions from said collar structures.

22. The accessory device of claim 20, wherein said first and second prongs are positioned on one side of said collar structures.

23. The accessory device of claim 20, wherein said first and second prongs are positioned on opposite sides of said collar structures.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/761,932, filed Feb. 7, 2013, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a versatile device that may be integrated into or be used as an accessory to walking canes, to provide assistance to a user of the cane in hanging the cane from a pocket, strap, etc., which frees both the user's hands while keeping the cane readily available. In accordance with the present invention, the novel cane hanger may be integrated into or be used as an accessory to walking canes, wheeled walkers, or the like to provide assistance to a user of the cane, walker, etc. in carrying a purse, shopping bag, backpack, or other item, freeing the user's hand for use in maneuvering the cane, walker, etc.

BACKGROUND

Walking canes provide invaluable support for many people. However, a downside of such canes is that their use occupies at least one of the user's hands. Often, this is not a problem. However, there are times when a person wants or needs to have both hands free for performance of various other tasks—for instance, when searching through a wallet or purse, dialing a cell phone, carrying a shopping basket with one hand while retrieving products with the other, working at a kitchen counter or shop bench, etc.

Some traditional canes, i.e. “shepherds crook”, have a crooked hook-shaped handle style that allows them to be hooked over one arm, leaving both hands relatively free. However, the cane dangles from the user's arm, causing a nuisance. In addition, many handles designed for ergonomics and/or aesthetics, i.e. “Derby”, “Fritz”, etc., have very little if any hooked shape to the handle. Some canes also feature a broad-based tip or multi-legged base so that the cane can be stand alone in an upright position when not in use. However, unless the tip or base is fairly large the cane won't stay upright and available on anything less than a very smooth and level surface. In addition, a cane that relies upon an enlarged base to stay upright must be set down nearly vertically before the handle can be released—otherwise the cane will not rest on the floor or other surface in a stable fashion, and it will tip or fall over. Further, in use the cane must be carefully manipulated to avoid collision with the user's leg.

SUMMARY

A cane or cane accessory device in accordance with the present invention allows a cane user to free both hands while keeping the cane readily available, regardless of the handle style. In addition, the cane accessory device doesn't require the cane to be dangled from the user's arm, and thus is advantageous even in the case of a hooked handle. Keeping the cane available also doesn't rely on a large tip or base. As a result, the cane can be kept available even when the user isn't standing on or near a smooth and level surface. In addition, a cane accessory in accordance with the present invention does not require the cane to be set down nearly vertically before releasing the cane handle, and thus eliminates a potential source of annoyance related to tipping or falling of the cane. Further, it promotes or allows a natural swinging motion of the cane during use, without the need for careful manipulation to avoid collision with the user's leg.

A cane or cane accessory device in accordance with the present invention also allows a bag, purse, backpack or other generally similar object to be hung from the cane by the bag/purse/backpack's handles. This frees the user's hands from having to carry the bag while the cane is in use, thereby enhancing the usefulness of the cane or cane accessory device in accordance with the present invention.

Furthermore, the cane/accessory device is of very simple construction, with no moving parts. This makes for economical manufacture and carefree use.

An exemplary cane accessory device in accordance with the present invention includes two complementary pieces, e.g. of mirror-imaged structure, that collectively include at least one of an upward- and downward- extending prong positioned to be spaced from the cane/walker body. These two pieces may be mounted on either side of the shaft of a cane body, walker body, etc., towards the upper handle end, using a clamp or strap. The downward-extending prong(s) enable the cane to be hooked over and hung from a pocket, belt, strap, etc. of the user. The upward-extending prong(s) enable another object, such as a bag with handles, to be hung from the cane/accessory device, and thus from the cane/walker to which it is attached.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An understanding of the following description will be facilitated by reference to the attached drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view of an accessory device in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the accessory device of FIG. 1 mounted on a cane body;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the accessory device of FIG. 1 mounted on a cane body, shown from an opposite perspective;

FIG. 4 is a view of the accessory device of FIG. 1, shown supported from a pants pocket by a downwardly-extending prong;

FIG. 5 is a view of the accessory device of FIG. 1, shown supporting an exemplary bag hung by its handles from two upwardly-extending prongs, one on either side of the cane shaft;

FIG. 6 is an exploded isometric view of an alternative embodiment of the accessory device of FIG. 1, featuring a flexible strap instead of a rigid collar;

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of an exemplary walking cane including permanently affixed prongs in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of an exemplary walker showing mounted thereto the accessory device of FIGS. 1; and

FIG. 9 is an isometric view of an exemplary walker showing permanently affixed prongs in accordance with another aspect of the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In an exemplary embodiment, a cane accessory device 50 includes two complementary pieces 50A, 50B having generally mirror-image structure that are placed on either side of a conventional cane shaft/body 400 towards the handle end of the cane, as best shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3. FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view of the present invention which features two complementary pieces, which in this exemplary embodiment are mirror-images of one another. The right piece shows a downward pointing prong 100A, upward pointing prong 110A, fore extension 200A, rear extension 210A, lateral hole 220A at the end of the fore extension, and lateral hole 230A at the end of the rear extension. The left piece shows a downward pointing prong 100B, upward pointing prong 110B, rear extension 210B, and lateral hole 230B at the end of the rear extension. Also shown are bolts 300 and nuts 310. FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the invention shown in FIG. 1 mounted on a cane shaft 400 showing two mirrored pieces with downward pointing prongs 100A and 100B, upward pointing prongs 110A and 110B, rear extensions 210A and 210B, and a bolt 300. FIG. 3 is a reverse view of FIG. 2 showing two mirrored pieces with downward pointing prongs 100A and 100B, upward pointing prongs 110A and 110B, fore extensions 200A and 200B, and a bolt 300.

In this exemplary embodiment, each piece 50A, 50B has a downwardly extending prong 100A and 100B. These downwardly extending prongs are used primarily for hanging the cane from a belt, pants pocket, etc. as discussed below. Generally, only a single prong is required for this purpose. Accordingly, in some embodiments, only a single downwardly-extending prong is provided. However, by proving multiple downwardly-extending prongs, particularly prongs positioned opposite one another relative to the cane body and/or accessory, the cane accessory device may be easily used in similar fashion by both right-handed and left-handed users.

In this exemplary embodiment, each piece 50A, 50B has an upwardly extending prong 110A and 110B. These upwardly extending prongs are used primarily for hanging items (such as grocery bags, a purse, etc.) from the cane/cane accessory device, as discussed below. Generally, only a single prong is required for this purpose. Accordingly, in some embodiments, only a single upwardly-extending prong is provided. However, by proving multiple upwardly-extending prongs, particularly prongs positioned opposite one another relative to the cane body and/or accessory, the cane accessory device may be easily used in similar fashion by both right-handed and left-handed users.

Each piece also has a fore extension 200A and 200B and a rear extension 210A and 210B, as shown in FIGS. 1-3. These extensions collectively provide a collar structure that embraces the outer circumference of the cane shaft thereby forming a two-piece collar that engages the outer surface of the cane in a friction fit, e.g., with an inner diameter equal to the outer diameter of the cane shaft. The end of each extension defines a laterally-extending opening 220A, 220B and 230A, 230B that are disposed to align and allow a pair of bolts 300 and nuts 310 to hold the two pieces 50A, 50B together, while also clamping them to the cane's shaft. Spacers can be fitted inside the collar to accommodate smaller or irregular cane shaft configurations. The prongs and collar are configured so that the prongs are spaced from the shaft of the cane, etc. when fastened thereto, to allow the prongs to hook onto a pocket, belt, etc., or receive bag handles, etc., as described below.

Alternatively, the two complementary pieces 50A, 50B can be made with a channeled midsection rather than extensions, as shown in FIG. 6. FIG. 6 is an exploded isometric view of an alternate embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1 featuring a strap 700 instead of extensions. The right piece shows a pair of inward protruding walls 120A parallel to the cane shaft (not shown). The left piece shows a pair of vertical slots 130B to accept the strap. The channels may be formed by inwardly protruding walls 120A and 120B that run parallel to the cane shaft in position to embrace and abut the surface of the cane's shaft. In addition, the channeled midsections have vertical slots 130A and 130B to accept a hook-and-loop fastenable or other adjustable strap 700. Consequently the strap, similar to the extensions, bolts, and nuts, holds the two pieces 50A 50B together, while also clamping them to the cane shaft. A thin sheet of rubber or some tape can be wrapped around the cane shaft before tightening the strap to prevent slippage.

It should be noted that the pronged pieces and the extensions forming the collar can also be made of separate pieces.

The accessory device can be mounted to any supportive device for supporting a human while walking or standing, such as a walking cane, walker, or other supportive device. FIG. 8 is an isometric view of an exemplary walker showing mounted thereto the accessory device 50 of FIG. 1.

Further, it should be noted that the pronged pieces can also be directly fastened to a cane shaft. Thus, the present invention encompasses not only an accessory device removably-fastenable to a cane, walker, etc., but also prongs similar to those of an accessory device that are permanently fixed to a walking cane, walker or other supportive device, to provide similar functionality without the need for a separate accessory device. FIG. 7 is an isometric view of an exemplary walking cane including permanently fixed prongs in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. FIG. 9 is an isometric view of an exemplary walker showing permanently fixed prongs in accordance with another aspect of the present invention. The permanently fixed prongs may be distinctly separate components joined to the cane, walker, etc. in permanent or semi-permanent fashion so they are not readily removable as is the accessory device ,e.g., by screwing, bolting or adhering the prongs directly to frame/structure of the cane, walker, etc., or may be integrally formed with a frame/structure of the cane, walker, etc., e.g., by carving or machining from an integral body, or integrally forming the prongs and the frame/structure, e.g., by injection molding, forging or casting.

OPERATION

In use, the cane accessory device described above can be used by first positioning the pieces 50A, 50B on opposite sides of a generally-upright structural member of a cane, walker, etc. The pieces should be positioned to abut the surface of the structural member, in alignment with one another so that the strap 700 can be tightened, or the bolts/nuts 300/310 can be fastened, to secure the accessory device to the structural member. The cane accessory is then ready for use. A cane or walker having integral or permanently fixed prongs is already ready for use.

In use, a downwardly extending prong, e.g., 100A and 100B, can then be used to hang the cane from a pocket 500 (in this case a front pants pocket), belt, strap, etc., e.g., by hooking the prong into the pocket, over the belt/strap, etc., as best shown in FIG. 4. FIG. 4 is a view of the accessory device shown in FIG. 1 with a downward pointing prong 100A inserted in a front pants pocket 500. The downward pointing prong is outlined with a dotted line. Once the prong is hooked, the accessory device, and thus the associated cane, etc., is supported and kept readily at hand for grasping by the user. This frees the user's hands while also keeping the cane readily available for grasping.

Further, a small bag 600 or other object can be hung from the cane by sliding either of the bag handles, in this case 610A, over the cane handle, FIG. 5. FIG. 5 is a view of the device shown in FIG. 1 with a bag 600 hung by its handles 610A and 610B from the two upward pointing prongs 110A and 110B. The bag handle is then looped over the upwardly extending prong 110A on the opposite side of the cane shaft 400 from the bag. At the same time the other bag handle 610B is looped over the upwardly extending prong 110B on the same side of the cane shaft as the bag. Thus, the cane shaft runs through the opening of one of the bag handles thereby reducing the tendency of the bag to swing when the cane is in use. Alternatively, both bag handles can be slid over the cane handle and looped over the same upwardly extending prong. Consequently, the cane shaft would run through the openings of both bag handles. If swinging of the bag isn't much of a concern both bag handles can be looped over the upwardly extending prong on the same side of the cane shaft as the bag.

The present invention can also be mounted on other supports of a tubular or other construction, such as walkers. In this instance the present invention provides an accessible means to easily hang bags with handles and other suitable items from the accessory device, and thus the associated walker, etc.

Having thus described a few particular embodiments of the invention, various alterations, modifications, and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications, and improvements as are made obvious by this disclosure are intended to be part of this description though not expressly stated herein, and are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description is by way of example only, and not limiting. The invention is limited only as defined in the following claims and equivalents thereto.