Title:
Support for a user's leg
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A support adapted to be placed on a person's leg such that it can contact the backs of the user's upper and lower leg includes a surface that is conformed to the user's leg, renders the support more comfortable to use and more effective in supporting the user's leg. The support is structured so that any tendency for the support to move or rotate relative to the user's leg is minimized. The support may include a raised portion or is otherwise shaped to inhibit movement or rotation. The support may have a first surface portion shaped to conform to a calf area of the rear of the lower leg and a second surface portion shaped to conform to an Achilles tendon area of the rear of the lower leg.



Inventors:
Cherubini, Julian H. (Boston, MA, US)
Snowden, John (Byfield, MA, US)
Clement, Richard (Sudbury, MA, US)
Application Number:
10/135714
Publication Date:
10/30/2003
Filing Date:
04/30/2002
Assignee:
CHERUBINI JULIAN H.
SNOWDEN JOHN
CLEMENT RICHARD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/06; A63B71/12; (IPC1-7): A41D1/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lawrence M. Green (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A support for a leg of a person, the support comprising: a body formed at least partially with a flexible resilient filler material, the body having a first surface and an opposed second surface, the first surface being adapted to engage a rear portion of a lower leg and the second surface being adapted to simultaneously engage a rear portion of an upper leg when the support is mounted to a leg of a user; and at least one raised portion disposed on the first surface, the at least one raised portion being adapted to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the leg.

2. The support according to claim 1, wherein the at least one raised portion is defined by a peripheral region of the first surface.

3. The support according to claim 1, wherein the at least one raised portion comprises a first raised portion adapted to lie adjacent to the one side of the lower leg and a second raised portion adapted to lie adjacent to another side of the lower leg.

4. The support according to claim 1, wherein the first surface has a first surface portion having a first shape and a second surface portion longitudinally spaced from the first surface portion, the second surface portion having a second shape that is different from the first shape.

5. The support according to claim 4, wherein the first shape is defined at least in part by a first radius of curvature and wherein the second shape is defined at least in part by a second radius of curvature, the first radius of curvature being greater than the second radius of curvature.

6. The support according to claim 4, wherein the first shape defines generally a U-shape and the second shape defines generally a V-shape.

7. The support according to claim 4, wherein the first and second portions are contiguous.

8. The support according to claim 4, wherein at least one of the first and second surface portions defines at least a portion of the at least one raised portion.

9. The support according to claim 1, wherein the body is tapered such that the first and second surfaces converge from an end adapted to lie furthest away from a knee to an end adapted to lie closest to the knee.

10. The support according to claim 1, further comprising an attachment device coupled to the body for securing the support directly to the leg.

11. The support according to claim 1, wherein the at least one raised portion is formed integral with the body.

12. A support for a leg of a person, the support comprising: a body formed at least partially with a flexible, resilient filler material, the body having a thickness adapted to allow simultaneous engagement of both a rear portion of an upper leg and a rear portion of a lower leg when the person's knee is flexed; and an outer surface defined by the body, the outer surface including a first surface adapted to engage the rear portion of the lower leg and a second surface adapted to engage a rear portion of the upper leg, the first surface being shaped to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the leg.

13. The support according to claim 12, wherein the first surface has a first surface portion having a first shape and a second surface portion longitudinally spaced from the first surface portion, the second surface portion having a second shape that is different from the first shape.

14. The support according to claim 13, wherein the first shape is defined at least in part by a first radius of curvature and wherein the second shape is defined at least in part by a second radius of curvature, the first radius of curvature is greater than the second radius of curvature.

15. The support according to claim 13, wherein the first shape defines generally a U-shape and the second shape defines generally a V-shape.

16. The support according to claim 15, wherein the first and second surface portions are contiguous.

17. The support according to claim 12, wherein the first surface has a first surface portion and a second surface portion and wherein one of the first and second surface portions is adapted to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the leg.

18. The support according to claim 12, wherein the body is tapered such that the first and second surfaces converge from an end adapted to lie furthest away from the knee to an end adapted to lie closest to the knee.

19. The support according to claim 12, further comprising an attachment device coupled to the body for securing the support directly to the leg.

20. A support for a leg of a person, the support comprising: a body formed at least partially with a flexible, resilient material, adapted to support the leg, the body having a thickness adapted to allow simultaneous engagement of both a rear portion of an upper leg and a rear portion of a lower leg when the person's knee is flexed; and an outer surface defined by the body, the outer surface including a first surface adapted to engage the rear portion of the lower leg and a second surface adapted to engage a rear portion of the upper leg, the first surface having a first surface portion shaped to conform to a calf area of the rear of the lower leg and a second surface portion shaped to conform to an Achilles tendon area of the rear of the lower leg.

21. The support according to claim 20, wherein the first surface portion defines generally a U-shape and the second surface portion defines generally a V-shape.

22. The support according to claim 21, wherein the first and second surface portions are contiguous.

23. The support according to claim 21, wherein the second surface portion is adapted to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the leg.

24. The support according to claim 20, wherein the body is tapered such that the first and second surfaces converge from an end adapted to lie furthest away from the knee to an end adapted to lie closest to the knee.

25. The support according to claim 20, further comprising an attachment device coupled to the body for securing the support directly to the leg.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a support and, more particularly, to a support for reducing stress on a person's knee and leg.

[0003] 2. Related Art

[0004] A variety of activities including work-related, sport-related, pleasure-related or daily activities can result in increased stress to a person's knees and/or legs due to frequent squatting or kneeling. Examples of such activities include installing flooring or roofing, power squatting, playing catcher in baseball, housework and gardening. As a person bends or squats, various tissues and tendons supporting the leg and knee become stretched. Repeated or prolonged stretching may cause or increase the chances of injuries. Various types of knee supports and pads have been suggested to alleviate knee strain, such as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,073,986.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The support is adapted to be placed on a person's leg such that it can contact the backs of the user's upper and lower leg. The support can include a surface that is conformed to the user's leg, rendering the support more comfortable to use and more effective in supporting the user's leg. In addition, the support is structured so that any tendency for the support to move or rotate relative to the user's leg is minimized.

[0006] In one embodiment, a support for a leg of a person is provided. The support includes a body formed at least partially with a flexible, resilient filler material. The body has a first surface and an opposed second surface. The first surface is adapted to engage a rear portion of a lower leg and the second surface is adapted to simultaneously engage a rear portion of an upper leg when the support is mounted to a leg of a user. The support also includes at least one raised portion disposed on the first surface. The at least one raised portion is adapted to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the leg.

[0007] In another embodiment, a support for a leg of a person is provided. The support includes a body formed at least partially with a flexible, resilient filler material. The body has a thickness adapted to allow simultaneous engagement of both a rear portion of an upper leg and a rear portion of a lower leg when the person's knee is flexed. The support also includes an outer surface defined by the body. The outer surface includes a first surface adapted to engage the rear portion of the lower leg and a second surface adapted to engage the rear portion of the upper leg. The first surface is shaped to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the leg.

[0008] In another embodiment, a support for a leg of a person is provided. The support includes a body formed at least partially with a flexible, resilient material, adapted to support the leg. The body has a thickness adapted to allow simultaneous engagement of both a rear portion of an upper leg and a rear portion of a lower leg when the person's knee is flexed. The support also includes an outer surface defined by the body. The outer surface includes a first surface adapted to engage the rear portion of the lower leg and a second surface adapted to engage the rear portion of the upper leg. The first surface has a first surface portion shaped to conform to a calf area of the rear of the lower leg and a second surface portion shaped to conform to an Achilles tendon area of the rear of the lower leg.

[0009] Various embodiments of the present invention provide certain advantages and overcome certain drawbacks of prior leg and knee supports. Embodiments of the invention may not share the same advantages, and those that do may not share them under all circumstances. This being said, the present invention provides numerous advantages including the noted advantage of increased comfort and effectiveness.

[0010] Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure of various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] Various embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0012] FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of the support shown attached to and in use by a user;

[0013] FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

[0014] FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1;

[0015] FIG. 4 is a view of the support taken along line 4 of FIG. 1; and

[0016] FIG. 5 is an end view of the support taken along line 5 of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] The support of the present invention is adapted to be placed on a person's leg so it contacts the rear portions of the user's upper and lower legs. The support is intended to separate the backs of the user's upper and lower legs, thereby eliminating or reducing the over-rotation or stretching of the knee that may occur during kneeling, especially in situations where the backs of a user's upper and lower legs would otherwise meet. The support may include at least one surface that is conformed to at least a portion of the user's leg, rendering the support more comfortable to use, more effective in supporting the user's weight and less likely to move or rotate about the user's leg. To achieve these and other attributes, the support includes various features, each of which will be described in greater detail below, that may be employed singularly or in any suitable combination.

[0018] In one embodiment, the support includes a body, an outer surface defined by the body and a raised portion that cooperates with the body to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the user's leg. In another embodiment, the support includes a body and an outer surface defined by the body, wherein the outer surface includes a first surface that is shaped to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the user's leg. In a further embodiment, the support includes a body and an outer surface defined by the body, wherein the outer surface includes a first surface that has a first portion shaped to conform to a calf area of the rear of the lower leg and a second surface portion shaped to conform to an Achilles tendon area of the rear of the lower leg.

[0019] As discussed above and with reference to FIGS. 1-5, a user's leg 10 includes an upper leg 12 and a lower leg 14 joined by a knee 16. Each of the upper and lower legs 12, 14 includes a rear portion 18, 20, respectively. The lower leg 14 also includes a calf area 22 proximate the knee 16 and an Achilles tendon area 24 distal of the knee 16.

[0020] The support 30 includes a body 32 defining an outer surface 34 having first and second surfaces 36, 38. The first surface 36 is adapted to lie against the back 20 of the lower leg 14 and the second surface 38 is adapted to lie against the back 18 of the upper leg 12. As noted above, according to one aspect of the invention, the support 30 is constructed to inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the user's leg. In one embodiment, a raised portion 40 cooperates with the body 32 to inhibit movement or rotation of the body 32 relative to the user's leg. For example, the raised portion 40 is constructed to bear against the side 42 of the leg to exert a force to inhibit rotation about the user's leg and/or inhibit lateral movement relative to a user's leg (see, e.g. FIGS. 2 and 3).

[0021] In one embodiment, the raised portion 40 may be adapted so that it lies along a lateral side 44 of the support 30, which is adjacent the side 42 of the leg. The raised portion 40 may be formed as an integral part of the body 32, the outer surface 34, or both. For example, the raised portion 40 may be molded integral with the body 32. The raised portion 40 may be defined by the peripheral region 46 of the first surface 36. In one embodiment, the raised portion 40 is shaped such that the portion that contacts the leg is convex to accommodate the curve of the back of the user's lower leg. In addition, the raised portion 40 may extend along the full length of the support 30 or along any portion of the length of the support 30. The raised portion 40 may be made of the same material as the body 32 of the support 30, although the raised portion 40 and the body 32 may be formed of different materials.

[0022] It should be appreciated that the support 30 may include one or more raised portions. For example, a first raised portion may be positioned on one side of the support to inhibit movement or rotation in one direction and a second raised portion may be positioned on the other side of the support to inhibit movement or rotation in the other direction. In addition or alternatively, one or more raised portions may be spaced along the length of the support 30. When more than one raised portion is positioned on the body, the raised portions may be partitioned such that a plurality of raised portions is disposed along the length of the body. The plurality of raised portions may be contiguous or spaced-apart. Also, each raised portion may have a different shape as desired, for example, to accommodate the anatomy of the sides of a user's leg. The raised portions may be mirror images of each other, resulting in a support that is symmetric along its longitudinal axis.

[0023] It should also be appreciated that the shape of the raised portion 40 need not be convex and can have portions that are flat or angled. Other suitable shapes include triangular, concave, semi-spherical, square, rectangular, or any shape that would prevent or reduce rotation. The shape of the raised portion 40 may be a mold of the shape of the back of a typical user's lower leg. Alternatively, the shape of the raised portion 40 may be custom shaped to accommodate the shape of the back of a certain user's lower leg. Although in a preferred embodiment, the outer side of the raised portion is flush with the side edge of the body, the outer side need not be flush with the side edge and may jut or angle outwards or inwards. Also, the outer side need not be flat and can curve or be shaped in any geometric fashion.

[0024] It should also be appreciated that the raised portion 40 need not be molded as a part of the body 32 and can be a separate piece that is attached onto the support 30. This attachment may be permanent or removable. The raised portion 40 may be attached to the support with the use of hook and loop fasteners, snaps, buttons, zippers, pins, buckles or any other fastening device. It is also contemplated that the raised portion 40 may be interchangeable with other raised portions of desirable shape, size, stiffness and/or other suitable characteristics and may positioned in any desired location.

[0025] In one embodiment, the raised portion has a thickness ranging from approximately 0.1 inches to approximately 5 inches as measured in the perpendicular direction from the first surface, as indicated at “t” in FIGS. 2 and 3.

[0026] According to another aspect of the invention, the first surface 36 may have a conformed surface 50 that is adapted to increase comfort and/or inhibit movement or rotation of the support relative to the user's leg. For example, the shape of the conformed surface 50 may be a mold of the shape of the back of a typical user's lower leg. Alternatively, the shape of the conformed surface 50 may be custom shaped to accommodate the shape of the back of a certain user's lower leg.

[0027] It should be appreciated that the conformed surface 50 may include a portion that is flat, angled or curved. Other suitable shapes include triangular, concave, semi-spherical, square, rectangular, or any shape that would tend to increase comfort and/or prevent or reduce rotation.

[0028] The conformed surface 50 may extend along the full length of the first surface 36 or extend along only a portion. In one embodiment, the conformed surface 50 has at least two conformed surface portions: a first conformed surface portion 50a and a second conformed surface portion 50b longitudinally spaced from the first surface portion 50a. The first conformed surface portion 50a is adapted to lie proximate the user's knee 16 and extend along only a portion of the first surface 36 while the second conformed surface portion 50b is adapted to lie distal of the user's knee 16 and extend along another portion of the first surface 36.

[0029] In one embodiment, the first conformed surface portion 50a has a first surface shape, which is defined at least in part by a first radius of curvature and the second conformed surface portion 50b has a second surface shape, which is defined at least in part by a second radius of curvature. In one embodiment, the first and second radii of curvature are different. The radii of curvature may be different from each other in magnitude; the first radius of curvature may be greater than, less than, or equal to the second radius of curvature. In the embodiments described with reference to FIGS. 1-5, the first radius of curvature may be greater than the second radius of curvature such that the first conformed surface portion 50a generally defines a U-shape (FIG. 3) and the second conformed surface portion 50b generally defines a V-shape (FIG. 2). Such a compound shape may allow the support to better accommodate the rounded portion of the calf 22 of the leg and to better accommodate the sharper area of the Achilles tendon portion 24 of the leg. Although in the embodiment shown, the shape of the first conformed surface portion 50a is U-shaped and the shape of the second conformed surface portion is V-shaped, the present invention is not limited in this respect, as other suitable shapes may be employed.

[0030] The first and second conformed surface portions 50a, 50b may be contiguous such that the first conformed surface portion 50a blends into the second conformed surface portion 50b without a defined barrier. It should be appreciated that there may be other surface portions with other curvatures that define either a U, a V or any other shape.

[0031] The conformed surface 50 may be shaped such that portions are triangular, convex, concave, semi-spherical, square, rectangular, curved, custom molded or any other shape. The conformed surface 50 may also include a portion that is flat. It should also be appreciated that the surface 50 need not conform specifically to the area of the leg to which it is adjacent, and may have any shape. Also, it should be appreciated that each conformed surface portion 50a, 50b may take up any area of the first surface, in that the length and width of the portions need not be the same. Any given surface portion may have a length and width that is either different from or the same as any other surface portion. Also, the second surface 38 may be shaped to conform to the rear 18 of the user's upper leg 12 (FIG. 5).

[0032] In one embodiment, the support 30 is attached to the user's lower leg with use of an attachment device, such as straps 52. The straps may include a hook and loop fastener (not shown) between the strap and the body 32 of the support 30. Alternatively, the strap 52 may be formed as a two piece strap wherein the hook and loop fastener is disposed between the two strap portions. It should be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to the use of a hook and loop fastener to secure the straps together, as other suitable fastening devices may be used, such as snaps, buttons, zippers, buckles, pins or any other suitable fastening device. Furthermore, although the support 30 shown in the figures is attached to the user's lower leg, the present invention is not limited in this respect, as the support may be attached to the user's upper leg. In addition, although straps are shown to secure the support to the user's leg, alternative attachment devices may be employed. For example one-half of a hook and loop material may be attached to the surface of the support and the other half of the hook and loop material can be attached directly to a user's pant leg. Of course, the pant leg itself may be made of a suitable material that can join with the hook or loop material on the support.

[0033] The outer surface of the support may be formed with a non-rigid material, such as spandex, nylon, cotton, leather or any other material suitable for the particular application in which the supporter would be used. The body of the support may be formed or otherwise include a flexible resilient filler material such as foam padding. Other filler materials, such as a gel, may be used. In another embodiment, the support may include multiple types of filler material. For example, the area of the support nearest the user's leg may be formed with a relatively softer material whereas the inner portions of the support may be formed with a relatively more rigid material. Further, one side of the support that is adjacent either the upper or lower leg may include the relatively softer material.

[0034] The support may be configured as a wedge such that the narrow end of the wedge is adapted to lie or proximate the wearer's knee whereas the wider part of the wedge is adapted to lie distal of the knee, as shown in FIG. 1. It is to be appreciated, however that a wedge-shaped support need not be employed, as the present invention is not limited in this respect. In one embodiment, the small end of the wedge-shaped support adapted to lie proximate the user's knee has a thickness T1 (see FIG. 5) ranging from approximately one-half inch to approximately 3 inches, and preferably approximately 2 inches. The wedge-shaped support may have a thickness at the center of the wedge T2 (see FIG. 5), ranging from approximately 2 inches to approximately 5 inches and preferably approximately 3 inches. The large end of the wedge-shaped to support adapted to lie distal of the user's knee has a thickness T3 (FIG. 5) ranging from approximately 3 inches to approximately 8 inches, and preferably approximately 4 inches. The width of the support W (see FIG. 5) may range between approximately 2 inches to approximately 6 inches and preferably approximately 5 inches. The length of the wedge L (see FIG. 4) may range from approximately 4 inches to approximately 20 inches. Preferably, the support has a length of approximately 7½ inches. It is to be appreciated that the above-noted dimensions are exemplary only, as the present invention is not limited to any particular dimension. Thus, all the suitable sized support may be employed and may depend on the application for which a wearer is utilizing the support as well as the size of the wearer.

[0035] It should be understood that the foregoing description of the invention is intended merely to be illustrative thereof and that other embodiments, modifications, and equivalents of the invention are within the scope of the invention recited in the claims appended hereto. Further, the prosthesis described above includes various features that may be employed singularly or in any suitable combination.





 
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