Title:
Support device for crutch or cane
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A support device is provided for a crutch or cane which allows the crutch or cane to lean against a surface such as an edge of a table, banister, automobile panel or the like while minimizing the risk that the crutch or cane will fall over. In accordance with one embodiment, the support device is initially in the form of a pad which can be wrapped around a crutch strut or cane shaft. The pad is preferably made of rubber or a rubber like material and releasably secured by VELCRO® which holds the pad in a tubular configuration around the strut or shaft. In accordance with other embodiments, the support device is a sleeve or strip attached to the crutch strut or cane shaft by a manufacturer or by a crutch or cane user.



Inventors:
Hopkins, Pennington S. (Severna Park, MD, US)
Application Number:
10/244011
Publication Date:
03/18/2004
Filing Date:
09/16/2002
Assignee:
HOPKINS PENNINGTON S.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A61H3/02; A45B1/00; (IPC1-7): A47B95/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAN, KO HUNG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLEN, WHITE, ZELANO & BRANIGAN, P.C. (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A support for a crutch having at least one longitudinally extending crutch strut with a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with at least one under arm support extending laterally from the crutch strut, or for a cane with a cane shaft having a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with a handle extending laterally from the can shaft, the support comprising: a flexible pad having a first surface and a second surface in opposed relation to the first surface; an adhesive area on at least one of the surfaces of the pad for adhering to the other surface of the pad upon engaging the other surface; the pad being adapted to form a tube when folded around the strut or shaft, the tube having an interior surface provided by the first surface for frictionally engaging the crutch strut or cane shaft to mount the tube thereon, the tube further having an outside surface for frictionally engaging an edge or curved surface to keep the crutch or cane supported at an angle to the vertical with the bottom end resting on a walking surface, the tube having a length substantially less than that of the crutch strut or cane shaft.

2. The support of claim 1 wherein the pad is made of rubber.

3. The support of claim 1 wherein the pad is deformable under the lateral component of the weight of the crutch or cane applied thereagainst by an edge or curved surface.

4. The support of claim 3 wherein the tube formed by the pad is slidable on the strut or shaft upon overcoming the friction between the interior surfaces of the tube, so that the longitudinal position of the support on the strut or shaft can be selected after the support is mounted on the strut or shaft.

5. The support of claim 4 wherein the adhesive area on one surface of the pad comprise VELCRO® hooks and on the other surface comprises VELCRO® loops.

6. The support of claim 5 wherein the adhesive areas are substantially covered by the first surface of the pad when the pad is rolled into a tube around the crutch strut or cane shaft.

7. The support of claim 4 wherein the adhesive area is initially only on one surface of the pad and adheres to the second surface after the pad is rolled into a tube around the strut or shaft.

8. The support of claim 7 wherein the adhesive area is covered by a removable patch having an outwardly facing non-adhesive surface, which patch is stripped from the adhesive area prior to adhering the frictional surfaces to one another.

9. The support of claim 8 wherein the adhesive area on the second surface of the pad is substantially covered by the first surface of the pad when the pad is rolled into a tube.

10. The support of claim 1 wherein the adhesive area on one surface of the pad comprise VELCRO® hooks and on the other surface comprises VELCRO® loops.

11. The support of claim 10 wherein the adhesive areas are substantially covered by the first surface of the pad when the pad is rolled into a tube around the crutch strut or cane shaft.

12. The support of claim 1 wherein the adhesive area is initially only on one surface of the pad and adheres to the second surface after the pad is rolled into a tube around the strut or shaft.

13. The support of claim 12 wherein the adhesive area is covered by a removable patch having an outwardly facing non-adhesive surface, which patch is stripped from the adhesive area prior to adhering the frictional surfaces to one another.

14. The support of claim 1 wherein the adhesive area on the pad is covered by the first surface of the pad when the pad is rolled into a tube.

15. In combination with a crutch having at least one longitudinally extending crutch strut with a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with at least one under arm support extending laterally from the crutch strut or in combination with a cane with a cane shaft having a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with a handle extending laterally from the can shaft: a flexible pad having a first surface and a second surface in opposed relation to the first frictional surface; an adhesive area on at least the first surface of the pad for adhering to the second surface of the pad upon engaging the second frictional surface of the pad; the pad being adapted to form a tube when folded around the strut or shaft, the tube having an interior frictional surface formed by the first side for frictionally engaging the crutch strut or cane shaft to mount the tube thereon and an exterior surface for frictionally engaging an edge or curved surface to keep the crutch or cane supported with the bottom end resting on a walking surface, the tube having a length substantially less than that of the strut or shaft.

16. The combination of claim 15 where the crutch or cane has a center of gravity disposed at a point on the strut or shaft and wherein the tube is disposed between the center of gravity and the under arm support of the crutch or handle of the cane.

17. The combination of claim 16 wherein the pad is made of rubber.

18. The combination of claim 17 wherein the pad is deformable under the lateral component of the weight of the crutch or cane applied thereagainst by an edge or curved surface.

19. The combination of claim 16 wherein the tube formed by the pad is slidable on the strut or shaft upon overcoming the friction between the interior surfaces of the tube, so that the longitudinal position of the support on the strut or shaft can be selected after the support is mounted on the strut or shaft.

20. The combination of claim 15 wherein the adhesive area on one surface of the pad comprise VELCRO® hooks and on the other surface comprises VELCRO® loops.

21. The support of claim 15 wherein the adhesive area is initially only on one surface of the pad and adheres to the second surface after the pad is rolled into a tube around the strut or shaft.

22. The support of claim 15 wherein the adhesive area is covered by a removable patch having an outwardly facing non-adhesive surface, which patch is stripped from the adhesive area prior to adhering the frictional surfaces to one another.

23. In combination with a crutch having at least one longitudinally extending crutch strut with a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with at least one under arm support extending laterally from the crutch strut, or in combination with a cane with a cane shaft having a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with a handle extending laterally from the can shaft: an attachment on the crutch strut or cane shaft, the attachment having an exterior surface for frictionally engaging an edge or curved surface to keep the crutch or cane supported with the bottom end resting on a walking surface, the attachment having a length extending above the center of gravity of the strut or shaft when the strut or shaft is vertically oriented.

24. The combination of claim 23 wherein the attachment is a sleeve.

25. The combination of claim 23 wherein the attachment is at least one strip of material affixed to the crutch strut or cane shaft.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention is directed to a support device for a crutch or a cane. More particularly, the present invention is directed to a support device for a crutch or cane which keeps the crutch or cane from toppling over when the crutch or cane is leaned against an edge or a curved surface, or even an inclined flat surface, while the bottom end thereof is resting on the ground.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Around the world, hundreds of millions of people at one time or another during their lives injure a leg, and while ambulatory still must rely on at least one crutch or cane for support. People do not use crutches or canes continuously and at times lean them against walls, tables, counter tops, banisters, automobiles or other conveyances, etc. while they attend to activities requiring the use of their hands and arms for purposes other than holding a crutch or cane for support. Not infrequently the crutch or cane topples over and the person must retrieve it. This is no mean feat for a person having only one fully functional leg, and as the person bends over to retrieve the crutch or cane, it is not unusual for them to also topple. Upon toppling, this already injured person may be injured again, perhaps seriously.

[0003] Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms present a considerable challenge to crutch and cane users because vertical walls in these rooms are frequently behind cabinets, counter tops or sinks so that the top of the crutch or cane can not reach a wall to rest thereagainst. Moreover, these rooms have work areas requiring the use of hands. Since it is preferable to have a crutch or cane nearby so that the person does not have to hop or hobble to retrieve it, the crutch or cane is usually leaned against a counter top or sink with the hard surface of a vertical crutch strut or cane shaft engaging the hard edge of a counter top or sink. A slight nudge can cause the crutch or cane to slide with respect to the counter top or sink, pivot on the floor and fall over.

[0004] Older individuals can be drastically injured by a fall if they break a hip. The hip which is broken may be the hip of their sound leg, leaving them in the unfortunate condition of having two dysfunctional legs, neither of which will support them. This problem is enormous, yet it has not been addressed in a manner which provides a wide spread, inexpensive solution that does not require redesign of the millions of crutches and canes currently in use, as well as redesign of those currently in inventory or under manufacture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In view of the aforementioned considerations, the present invention is directed to a support for 1) a crutch having at least one longitudinally extending crutch strut with a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with at least one under arm support extending laterally from the crutch strut, or for 2) a cane having a bottom end for engaging a walking surface and a top end with a handle extending laterally from the cane shaft. The support comprises a flexible pad having a first surface and a second surface in opposed relation to the first surface. An adhesive area is on at least one of the surfaces of the pad for adhering to the other surface of the pad upon engaging the other surface. The pad forms a tube when folded around the strut or shaft of the crutch or cane, the tube having an interior surface formed by the first side for engaging the crutch strut or cane shaft to mount the tube thereon and an outside surface for frictionally engaging an inclined flat surface, an edge, or a curved surface to keep the crutch or cane supported with the bottom end resting on a horizontal surface such as a floor or the ground. The tube has a length substantially less than that of the strut or shaft.

[0006] In one aspect of the invention the adhesive area on one surface comprises VELCRO® hooks which adhere to VELCRO® loops on the other surface.

[0007] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the pad is in combination with a crutch or cane and is positioned to extend at least above the center of gravity of the crutch or cane.

[0008] In accordance with other aspects of the invention, the tube is preformed and provided installed on the crutch or cane, or in still another aspect of the invention, a strip of high friction material is applied to the crutch or cane.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] Various other features and attendant advantages of the present invention will be more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

[0010] FIGS. 1-6 are perspective views showing a support according to the present invention mounted on either one strut of a crutch or on the shaft of a cane, wherein crutches or canes are shown leaning against various supporting structures such as a table edge (FIG. 1), a window sill (FIG. 2), a window ledge (FIG. 3), a chair (FIG. 4), a banister (FIG. 5) or a kitchen counter top (FIG. 6).

[0011] FIGS. 7 and 8 are perspective views showing a crutch and a cane with the support of the present invention wherein the crutch and cane rely on frictional surfaces of an underarm support and a handle sleeve, respectively to support the crutch or cane against a flat vertical wall with the tubular support of the present invention not engaging the wall;

[0012] FIG. 9 is a planar view of a first side of a pad which is folded around a crutch strut or cane shaft to form the support device of the present invention;

[0013] FIG. 10 is a planar view of a second side of the pad of FIG. 9;

[0014] FIG. 11 is a planar view of a variation of the pad of FIGS. 10 and 11;

[0015] FIG. 12 is a perspective view showing the pad of FIGS. 9-11 being rolled about a crutch strut or cane shaft for positioning thereon, and FIG. 13 is a side view of another embodiment of the invention showing a support device configured as a strip of material having a frictional surface and attached to a crutch or cane.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] As is seen in FIGS. 1-6, a support device 20 for a crutch 22 or cane 24 is mounted on a strut 26 of the crutch or shaft 28 of the cane, respectively. In accordance with the present invention, the support device 20 is in the form of a tube 29 which is attached to the strut 26 of the crutch 22 or to the shaft 28 of the cane 24.

[0017] Considering first the crutch 22, the crutch is preferably a conventional, widely used crutch having an underarm support 30, one or two crutch struts 26, a hand grip 32 and a bottom end 36 which in most instances has a rubber foot 38 for engaging a walking surface 40. As is seen in FIGS. 1, 4, 5 and 6 showing the crutch 22, the support device 20 is disposed between the underarm support 30 at the top of the crutch and the hand grip 32. The support device 20 is positioned above the center of gravity of the crutch 22. Consequently, when the bottom end 36 of the crutch 22 is resting on a surface such as the walking surface 40, and the crutch is leaning against an edge 42 of, for example a table 44 (FIG. 1) or a counter top (FIG. 6), the weight of the crutch is applied against the support 20, generally in the form of a horizontal or lateral force component. This force component is sufficient to provide a frictional engagement between the support 20 and the edge 42 of the table 44. Preferably, the support 20 is made of a deformable material such as rubber so that there is increased area to provide sufficient frictional force to keep the crutch partially upright and available to a person when the person needs to resume use of the crutch 22.

[0018] While a table 44 is shown in FIG. 1 providing the edge 42, the edge 42 can of course occur on numerous surfaces such as a stool or other furniture piece (FIG. 4), banister (FIG. 5), as well as the counter top (FIG. 6). In accordance with the present invention, the support device 20 is axially movable with respect to the crutch strut 26 so as to be closer to the handle 32 as is seen in FIG. 4 or closer to the underarm support 30 as is seen in FIGS. 5 and 6. The support device may be slid while configured as a tube 29 or may be partially or fully unrolled, moved and rerolled around the crutch strut or cane shaft.

[0019] As is seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, the support device 20 is mounted on the shaft 28 of the cane 24 to also engage an edge 42 which may occur, for example, on a window shelf 56 (FIG. 2) or a window seat 58 (FIG. 3). The support 20 is closer to the handle 29 in FIG. 2 than in FIG. 3 to accommodate the specific needs of the person using the cane 24.

[0020] While FIGS. 1-6 discloses edges 42 on various structures within a house to support a crutch 22 or cane 24, there are many other situations where the support 20 is useful. For example, it is frequently necessary to lean a crutch or cane against a side panel of an automotive vehicle, a deck railing or a table which is spaced from a wall. Clearly, the many situations in which the support device 20 is useful are too numerous to specifically identify in this application, however the examples provided are clearly indicative of such situations and of the support device's extensive utility.

[0021] Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, there are of course numerous situations where a vertical wall 60 is present so that the crutch 22 or cane 24 may lean against the wall. In this situation, the crutch 22 may have a soft or resilient pad 62 for the underarm support 30 which frictionally engages the wall 60 and many canes 24 have, or can be provided with, a tubular grip 64 which slides over the end 29 of the cane. Since the pad 62 and grip 64 generally have high friction surfaces, the crutch 22 or cane 24 will rest against a wall 60 with the reasonable expectation that the crutch or cane will not fall over. However, there are frequently numerous situations in which a convenient vertical wall surface 60 is not present. For example, vertical walls in kitchens, bathrooms or laundry rooms are frequently disposed behind cabinets, counter tops or sinks so that the only convenient location in which to lean a crutch is against an edge of a counter top or sink. Since the strut 26 of a crutch 22 is conventionally a smooth surface, there is a tendency for a crutch to slide and fall over. When the crutch slides or falls over, the patient must then somehow with one good leg lean over (perhaps from a chair) and pick up the crutch. This can result in a fall which may reinjure the already injured leg or perhaps injure the patients one good leg. It is very important for the patient to have the crutch 22 or cane 24 nearby when the patient has to use his or her hands to perform some other task, such as cooking. The patient may still be able to stand while not using the crutch, but moving about from one place to another without a crutch is of course risky. Accordingly, in a kitchen or other workplace, having a crutch close by when one needs to use ones hands for meal preparation or some other task is in many cases a medical necessity.

[0022] Since canes are shorter than crutches and are usually no more than hip high, the problem is not as great, however the problem still exists where one might prefer for example to lean a cane against a window shelf or window seal as seen in FIGS. 2 and 3 instead of against a table. There are of course other situations in which the support device 20 can be used with a cane 24.

[0023] Since manufacturers of crutches and canes almost universally produce crutches and canes with smooth struts and shafts, applicant's support 20 is configured as a retrofit for existing crutch and cane configurations. As is seen in FIGS. 9-12, the support 20 is initially configured as a rectangular or substantially square pad 70 made of rubber, or a rubber like material. The pad 70 has a first surface 72 providing the interior surface of the tube 29 (FIG. 12). The first surface 72 is a frictional surface with an adhesive free or VELCRO® free area 73 on which are exposed a series of small indentations 74, each of which indentations provides an edge 75 for frictionally engaging the strut 26 of the crutch 22 or the shaft 28 of the cane 24. The first surface 72 has adhered thereto one or more VELCRO® fastener strips 76, which may be configured as, for example, VELCRO® hooks 77. Typically, the VELCRO® strips 76 have adhesive backings so as to adhere permanently to the first surface 72 of the pad 70. The hooks 77 of the VELCRO® strips 76 also provide friction to help hold the support device 20 in place when rolled as the tube 29 (see FIG. 12) against the surface of the crutch strut 26 or the cane shaft 28. The VELCRO® strips 76 are positioned adjacent to a first edge 79 of the pad 70 which is coextensive with the clutch strut 26 or cane shaft 24.

[0024] As is seen in FIG. 10, the pad 70 has a second or exterior surface 80 which is the surface that frictionally engages the edge 42 of a counter or the like (see FIGS. 1-6) or other supporting surface (such as a panel of an automobile). The second surface 80 also has a series of indentations 82 defining edges 84 which enhance frictional engagement with an edge 42 or other surface. Disposed adjacent a second edge 88 of the pad 70 are one or more second VELCRO® fastener strips 90 in the form of loops 92. As is seen in FIG. 10, the second surface 80 has an adhesive free or VELCRO® free area 96 which is substantially wider than the adhesive or VELCRO® free area 73 of the first side 72 (see FIG. 9). Since the VELCRO® strips 76 face inwardly toward the strut 24 or shaft 26 when the pad 70 is wrapped around the crutch strut or cane shaft to form the tube 29 as is seen in FIG. 12, only the first surface 80 is exposed to rest against an edge 42 of a counter top or other structure. This is because the second VELCRO® fasteners 90 are covered by the first VELCRO® fasteners 76.

[0025] Instead of VELCRO® fasteners configured as strips 76 and 90, single relatively large VELCRO® patches may be used with one patch having loops 77 and the other having hooks 92.

[0026] Since the pad 70 is relatively flexible, it conforms readily to the crutch strut 26 or cane shaft 28 and may be tensioned slightly before adhering the VELCRO® fasteners 76 and 90 to one another. The thus formed tube 29 is then conformed to a greater or lesser extent to the crutch strut 26 or cane shaft 28 so as to be held in a fixed position thereon. It is also possible to adjust the frictional engagement between the crutch strut 26 and cane shaft 28 so that the tube 29 formed by the support 20 is slidable thereon with various degrees of effort by the patient to provide the adjustable positioning illustrated in FIGS. 1-6.

[0027] FIG. 11 illustrates a second embodiment of the pad 70 wherein an adhesive patch 102 having one side 103 adhered to either the first surface 72 of the pad or the second surface 80 of the pad is used to form the tube 29. The adhesive patch has a second area 104 which adheres to the opposite surface of the pad 70 when the pad is rolled into the tube 29 (FIG. 12). For example, if the adhesive patch 102 is on the first surface 72 of the patch 70, the second area 104 of the adhesive patch adheres to the second surface 80 of the pad when the pad is rolled into the tube 29, and if the adhesive patch 102 is on the second surface 80 of the patch 70, then the adhesive area 104 adheres to the first surface 72 of the pad when the pad is rolled. Preferably, the adhesive area 104 is covered by a protective patch 106 which is stripped off to expose the adhesive area. The adhesive patch 102 is placed at an edge 88 of the pad 70 so that is covered by the pad when the pad is rolled. Preferably, the adhesive patch 102 is placed on the first surface 72 of the pad 70 so that it readily accommodates variations in the diameters of crutch struts or cane shafts.

[0028] The aforedescribed support device 20 provides a very inexpensive, easy to apply, retrofit structure which substantially enhances the convenience and safety of crutches and canes by allowing one to support a crutch or cane adjacent to locations such as, but not limited to, work stations. This is because the support allows a patient to use his or her hands with a crutch 22 or cane 24 close thereby while minimizing the risk of the crutch or cane falling over.

[0029] In another embodiment of the invention the support device 20 is configured as a sleeve 20′(see FIGS. 1-6) which is mounted on a crutch strut 26 or cane shaft 28 by the manufacturer prior to sale rather than after sale. In this embodiment, the sleeve 20′ is formed, for example, by extrusion and slid over the crutch strut 26 or cane shaft 28 prior to attaching the under arm support 30 to the crutch 22 or the foot 38 to the cane 24. The sleeve 20′ can engage the crutch strut 26 either tightly or loosely, but it is preferable that there is sufficient friction to hold the sleeve 20′ in a selected location on the crutch strut or cane shaft. While an extrusion is a preferable fabrication method for the sleeve 20′, it is within the scope of the invention to have the sleeve 20′ formed by joining abutting edges of a pad; by shrink fitting a tube, or by any other arrangement for providing a sleeve 20′ around a strut or shaft.

[0030] While a tube 20 or sleeve 20′ is preferred, this invention also encompasses using friction strips 120 attached to the crutch strut 26 or the cane shaft 28 along one side or opposite sides of the strut or shaft for engaging a corner 46 or edge of a counter top or sink 49. As is seen in FIG. 13, the strip 120 can be attached in any manner, with adhesive 122 being preferred. The strip 120 can be attached to the crutch or cane by the manufacture, supplier or user of the crutch or cane.

[0031] From the foregoing description, one skilled in the art can easily ascertain the essential characteristics of this invention, and without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, can make various changes and modifications of the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions.