Title:
Cable supporting arm brace
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An arm brace that includes an attachment for a wire, tube or cable, particularly for use with a hand-held tool, such as an ultrasound transducer. The arm strap or brace supports the cable of the tool, relieving stresses to the wrist and forearm of the user. The arm strap is formed from a length of a limited stretch material and includes a first strap end attachable to a second strap end with a re-attachable strap fastener, the arm strap for encircling the arm of a user with an arm strap tension. A cable tab formed from an elastic material, including a first tab end and a second tab end, the second tab end attached to the arm strap, and the first tab end attachable to the arm strap with a re-attachable tab fastener. A cable loop is formed between the cable tab and the arm strap, and a cable is received within the cable loop. The cable loop secures the cable with a cable tension. A conventional Velcro® type of fastener is preferably utilized for both the re-attachable strap fastener and the re-attachable tab fastener. The cable tension is adjustable independently with respect to the arm strap tension.



Inventors:
Murphey, Susan L. (Lake Forest Park, WA, US)
Coffin, Carolyn T. (Las Cruces, NM, US)
Baker, Joan P. (Kirkland, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/286369
Publication Date:
05/06/2004
Filing Date:
10/31/2002
Assignee:
MURPHEY SUSAN L.
COFFIN CAROLYN T.
BAKER JOAN P.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/222
International Classes:
A45F5/00; (IPC1-7): A45F3/14; A44C5/18; A45C13/30
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080078789Back Strap Chair CarrierApril, 2008Fiola
20060169731Golf organizerAugust, 2006Matulewic
20080078792All Plastic Belt or Strap Clip With Levered Release Arm Operative With Button Mount for Cell Phone or Personal Electronic Device and MethodApril, 2008Tages
20090050656Baby backpack mirrorFebruary, 2009Coviello
20050035169Recreational bagFebruary, 2005Tabor et al.
20080179364Resilient strap mounting for user-borne athletic packsJuly, 2008Thatcher
20080149672Baby bottle tetherJune, 2008Frauhiger
20070090135Single and dual disposable hydration systemApril, 2007Benham
20040056055Swivel mounted commodity caseMarch, 2004Folmer
20080257276ANIMAL TRANSPORT DEVICEOctober, 2008White
20070068986T locking set for bicycle seat bagMarch, 2007Lien et al.



Primary Examiner:
NEWHOUSE, NATHAN JEFFREY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ballew Law (Yakima, WA, US)
Claims:

The following is claimed:



1. A cable brace for use with a hand-held tool, the cable brace comprising: an arm strap formed from a length of a limited stretch material, the arm strap including a first strap end and a second strap end, the first strap end attachable to the second strap end with a re-attachable strap fastener, and the arm strap for encircling the arm of a user with an arm strap tension; a cable tab formed from an elastic material, the cable tab including a first tab end and a second tab end, the second tab end attached to the arm strap and the first tab end attachable to the arm strap with a re-attachable tab fastener, and a cable loop formed between the cable tab and the arm strap; and a cable received within the cable loop, the cable loop for securing the cable with a cable tension, and the cable tension adjustable independently with respect to the arm strap tension.

2. The cable brace of claim 1, further comprising: a ring attached to the second strap end of the arm strap, the ring for receiving the first strap end, and wherein the second tab end is attached to the arm strap proximate to the second strap end.

3. The cable brace of the claim 1, further comprising: a slack portion of cable, the slack section of cable formed with the cable in a portion of the cable between the cable loop and the hand-held tool.

4. The cable brace of the claim 1, wherein the second tab end attaches to the arm strap with a re-attachable fastener.

5. A method of supporting a cable to a user's arm comprising the steps of: a) strapping a cable brace to the user's arm, the cable brace comprising an arm strap formed from a length of a limited stretch material, the arm strap including a first strap end and a second strap end; b) forming a cable loop with a cable tab, the cable tab formed from an elastic material, the cable tab including a first tab end and a second tab end, the second tab end permanently attached to the arm strap and the first tab end attachable to the arm strap with a re-attachable tab fastener, a cable loop formed between the cable tab and the arm strap; and c) placing the cable within the cable loop.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the step of strapping a cable brace to the user's arm further comprises the step of: a1) attaching the first strap end to the second strap end with a re-attachable strap fastener.

7. The method of claim 5, wherein the step of placing the cable within the cable loop further comprises the step of: c2) securing the cable to the arm strap.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the step of securing the cable to the arm strap further comprises the step of: c3) attaching the first tab end to the arm strap.

9. The method of claim 5, wherein the step of placing the cable within the cable loop further comprises the step of: c2) forming a slack portion of cable between the cable loop and the hand-held tool.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The invention relates to a method and apparatus for an arm strap that includes an attachment for a wire, tube or cable, and more particularly an arm brace for use with a hand-held tool, such as an ultrasound transducer. The arm brace supports the cable of the tool, relieving stresses to the wrist and forearm of the user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] As workplace injuries relating to strains and stresses from wrist actions and related repetitive motions become more common, these types of injuries gain the attention of employers. The typical employer, with profitability a high priority, understands that minimizing nuisance injuries leads to more productive workers, the potential reduction of insurance premiums and greater overall productivity. “Carpel tunnel” injuries are an example of a common computer keyboard-and-mouse related injury. The notorious carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when ligaments or tendons in the wrist become inflamed from strain or another aggravating cause.

[0003] Additionally, any job or task that requires the support of heavy or awkward hand tools for extended periods often results in strains and potentially more serious injuries to the elbow and lower arms of the tool user. Wrists, forearms and elbows can begin to show signs of injury, such as inflamation, arthritis and tendinitis, after a short period of excessive strain, or a longer period of minimal strain. Furthermore, certain workers are predisposed to arthritic and inflammatory conditions, and so have an even lower tolerance to work related physical strain. For these wrist related problems conventional support brace systems and restraining devices often center on propping up the user's wrists with pads, or reenforcing the wrist and forearm.

[0004] Both “tennis elbow,” known medically as lateral epicondylitis, and “golfers elbow,” known medically medial epicondylitis, typically result from a repetitive movement of the arm, in which the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the epicondyies become torn and inflamed. Sports equipment, such as golf clubs or tennis rackets, though typically used for the health and enjoyment of the user, can inflict injuries, comparable to workplace apparatus, such as hammers, drills, screwdrivers, and the like. Arm braces, straps and wrapping tape are often prescribed to help relieve symptoms and provide therapeutic support.

[0005] Several issued patents disclose bands or straps that reduce muscle strain from forearm intensive activities. U.S. Pat. No. 6,149,617 shows such a device that includes a band having a pocket for receiving a thermal packet for therapeutic purposes. The pocket of the band is sized to receive only a pre-set, specific size of pouch. Additionally, to function properly, the strap around the user's arm must maintain the tension required to keep the pouch in place when in use.

[0006] For holding items other than a pouch within an arm-mounted strap, U.S. Pat. No. 4,671,787 shows a support wrap system for intravenous tubing. The support wrap system includes a pair of flaps that each capture the small diameter intravenous tube, while a longer length of material wraps around the arm of the patient, over the pair of flaps. The structure of the support wrap systems fails to include any element or means for adjusting the tubing after the length of material is wrapped around the arm of the patient. Any such adjustment would be counterproductive to the support wrap's disclosed purpose of providing a reinforced, immobile and permanent attachment of the delicate, small diameter tube into the patient.

[0007] An arm strap system is needed that employs the basic therapeutic structure of conventional arm band straps, while including an ability to support workplace equipment efficiently. Such an improved strap system must be easily adjustable on the user's arm, while additionally providing support to the hand tools and equipment, relieving stress on the wrist, forearm and elbow of the user.

[0008] The device of the present invention can be understood by reference to the following detailed description taken with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cable supporting arm brace in use, according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0011] FIG. 3 is a side view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0012] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0013] FIG. 5 is a top view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0014] FIG. 6 is a side view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0015] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention; and

[0016] FIG. 8 is a side view of a cable supporting arm brace, according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS

[0017] The invention provides an arm strap that includes an attachment for a wire, tube or cable, and more particularly the invention comprises a cable brace for use with a hand-held tool, such as an ultrasound transducer.

[0018] The cable brace 10, according to specific, preferred embodiments of the present invention, are shown in FIGS. 1 through 8. A preferred embodiment of the cable brace is shown in use in FIG. 1, attached to a user's arm 12. The cable brace receives a cord 15, the cord attached to a hand-held tool 16, which in the embodiment shown, is a conventional ultrasound transducer.

[0019] As detailed in FIG. 4, the cable brace 10 includes an arm strap 18 formed from a length of a limited stretch material 19. The limited stretch material can be any material or fabric typically employed for arm bands, wrist bands elastic bands and the like. Preferably, a flat webbing material, or woven synthetic material is used for the length of limited stretch material, and most preferably a flat, nylon webbing. Alternatives to the flat webbing include leather, naugahyde, neoprene, rubber, or any such material that is flexible, yet not so stretchable that blood flow is restricted within the user's arm 12. The arm strap encircles the arm of a user with an arm strap tension.

[0020] As shown in FIGS. 4 through 6, the length of limited stretch material 19, of the arm strap 18, includes a first strap end 22 and a second strap end 23. The length of limited stretch material includes a middle section 24, between the first strap end and the second strap end of the arm strap.

[0021] To encircle the user's arm 12, the first strap end 22 of the arm strap 18 is attachable to the second strap end 23 with a re-attachable strap fastener 26. This re-attachable strap fastener can be any attachment that temporarily joins the first and second strap ends. Preferably, a “hook and loop” fastener, such as the well-known Velcro® type of fastener is utilized. A clip, an adhesive, a buckle or a button are all considered as alternative re-attachable strap fasteners, to the preferred hook and loop type fasteners.

[0022] As shown in FIG. 4, the Velcro® re-attachable strap fastener 26 is a two part fastening device, with a strap hook pad 33 and a strap loop pad 34. The strap hook pad and the strap loop pad are preferably placed in series along the length of limited stretch material 19, most preferably near the first strap end 22. Alternatively, the length of limited stretch material, can be a Velcro® hook compatible fabric, such as a flexible, typically non-woven, looped polyester material. By employing the looped, Velcro® hook compatible fabric, the separate strap loop pad can be eliminated, essentially incorporated into the arm strap 18, to form the re-attachable strap fastener.

[0023] In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the re-attachable strap fastener 26 is used with a buckle 29, to attach the arm strap 18 to the user's arm 12, as shown in FIG. 1. The buckle might be alternatively referred to as a “ring,” as it is at a minimum a single continuous, stamped metal or molded plastic plate, or ring that can receive the first strap end 22. The buckle can also be a double “D” ring, as detailed in FIG. 2. The buckle attaches to the second strap end 23, preferably with a sewn attachment 31. The single ring is less expensive to manufacture and so is considered as preferable over the double “D” ring alternative.

[0024] The first strap end 22 threads through the buckle 29 and back over the middle section 24 of the limited stretch material 19, to “synch” or tighten up the arm strap on the user's arm. With the strap loop pad 34 positioned proximate to the first strap end, the strap hook pad 33 is mounted next to the strap loop pad. Both strap pads are attached along the length of limited stretch material, with the strap loop pad the closer of the two pads to the second strap end. The first strap end, with the strap hook pad is threaded through the buckle on the second strap end and pulled back over and upon the length of limited stretch material so that the strap loop pad adheres to the hook pad of the Velcro® fastener.

[0025] A re-attachable tab fastener 40 is also included in the present invention. The re-attachable tab fastener is part of a cable tab 42, the cable tab attached to the arm strap 18 as shown in FIG. 4. The cable tab is preferably formed from a length of elastic material 43. The length of elastic material is most preferably a flat, short length of elastic fabric or flexible webbing. The elasticity of the cable tab is important to provide a firm and secure grip on the cable 15, held by the cable tab against the arm strap 18, as discussed in further detail herein.

[0026] The cable tab 42 includes a first tab end 46 and a second tab end 47, the second tab end is permanently attached to the arm strap, preferably at the second strap end 23. This permanent attachment is most preferably the same sewn attachment 31 that attaches the buckle 29 to the second strap end, as shown in FIG. 4, but could alternatively, be a permanent adhesive, a tape or staple attachment. A heating of the second tab end to achieve a melted, welded connection is also considered as an alternative to sewing the second tab end to the arm strap. Also alternatively, the connection of the second tab end to the second strap end can be a non-permanent or re-attachable connection. A Velcro® type of fastener can utilized to removably attache the second tab end to the second strap end.

[0027] The first tab end 46 attaches to the arm strap 18 with the re-attachable tab fastener 40. As discussed in relation to the re-attachable strap fastener that attaches the first strap end 22 of the arm strap to the second strap end 23, this re-attachable tab fastener can be any attachment that temporarily joins the first and second tab ends. Again, as with the re-attachable strap fastener 26, most preferably a “hook and loop” fastener, such as the conventional Velcro® type of fastener is utilized for the re-attachable tab fastener. A clip, a re-sealable adhesive, a buckle, a snap or a button/eye combination, are all considered as alternatives to the hook and loop fasteners.

[0028] As shown in FIG. 4, the Velcro® re-attachable tab fastener 40 is preferably a two part fastening device, with a tab hook pad 53 and a tab loop pad 54. The tab hook pad is placed on the length of limited stretch material 19, most preferably in the middle section 24, near the second strap end 23. The tab loop pad is placed on the cable tab 42, preferably proximate the first tab end 46, and facing the tab hook pad.

[0029] Similar to the alternative embodiment of the re-attachable strap fastener 26, where the strap loop pad 34 is incorporated into the length of limited stretch material 19, for the re-attachable tab fastener 40, the separate tab loop pad 53 can also be incorporated into the length of limited stretch material, if the limited stretch material is a Velcro® hook compatible fabric. Again, a looped polyester material, typically non-woven, can be utilized as the as the alternative arm strap 18. By employing the looped, Velcro® hook compatible fabric, the separate tab loop pad 53 can be eliminated, essentially incorporated into the arm strap, to form the re-attachable tab fastener.

[0030] A cable loop 55 is formed between the cable tab 42 and the arm strap 18. The cable loop receives the cable 15, as shown in FIG. 1. For the purposes of the present invention, the “cable” is broadly defined as any structure similar to a wire, tube, cord, bundle or umbilical that extends from a hand-held tool 16. Typically, the purpose of the cable is to connect the hand-held tool to a “control unit.” The control unit can be any controlling, receiving or power supplying device, such as a power source, a computer, a network connection, or a central processor.

[0031] The preferred size or enclosed area of the cable loop 55, as employed in the present invention, depends upon sizing factors. These sizing factors include the diameter, weight, length and stiffness of the cable 15 to be retained within the cable loop.

[0032] As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, in a preferred alternative embodiment of the present invention, the ring or buckle 29 can be omitted from the second strap end 23 of the arm strap 18, as shown in FIG. 4. Instead, the arm strap is held tightly around the user's arm 12 by the re-attachable strap fastener 26 alone, without the advantage of the buckle. The Velcro® fastener has the ability to grip without the need for synching, especially if the strap loop pad 34 and the corresponding strap hook pad 33 are large, to provide a secure attachment together. For this alternative, the strap loop pad is preferably placed proximate to the first strap end 22 and the strap hook pad is placed proximate to the second strap end of the arm strap.

[0033] In the preferred alterative of the cable tab 42, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8, the cable tab is a length of elastic material 43 that is permanently joined to the arm strap 18 at the second strap end 23. The alternative cable tab also includes a tab loop pad 54 that is attachable to the tab hook pad 53. In this alternative, the tab hook pad that is attached in the middle section 24 of the arm strap, proximate to the first strap end 22.

[0034] A preferred method of the present invention includes strapping the cable brace 10 to the user's arm 12. The first strap end 22 is fed through the buckle 29 and back over the middle section 24 of the arm strap 18. The strap hook pad 33, proximate to the first strap end adheres to the strap loop pad 34. The arm strap of the cable brace firmly grips the arm of the user. The cable loop 55, formed between the cable tab and the arm strap, can receive the cable either before or after placement of the arm strap around the arm of the user. With the cable tab in an open position 67, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, the cable is placed within the cable loop and the second tab end attached to the arm strap, as shown in FIGS. 1, 3, and 8, securing the cable to the arm strap.

[0035] Preferably, for the present invention, the tightening of the cable loop 55 about the cable 15 is an independent operation to the tightening of the arm strap 18, about the user's arm 12. The cable tab 42, being a length of elastic material 43, tightly binds the cable in the cable loop. The tight cable loop secures the cable with a cable tension. The cable tension is preferably so tight that the cable cannot move within the cable loop. With the cable securely mounted within the cable loop a slack portion of cable 68 is formed between the hand-held tool 16 and the cable loop of the cable brace, as shown in FIG. 1. The slack portion of the cable provides the user with the ability to move and reposition the hand-held tool, without pulling or repositioning the entire length of the cable. This support by the cable brace relives the user from strains and pulling against the hand tool, which for the conventional use of the hand tool is transferred to the wrist and arm of the user.

[0036] In an alternative method of the present invention, the alternative arm strap 18 as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, can be placed about the user's arm 12 without threading the first strap end 22 through a buckle 29 or ring, but instead the first strap end is pressed onto the second strap end 23, mating or joining the re-attachable strap fastener 26. Specifically, the strap loop pad 34 is pressed onto the strap hook pad 33 and so the arm strap secured about the user's arm.

[0037] The cable brace 10 not only provides a firm anchor for the cable 15, as discussed above, but also provides a therapeutic treatment for lateral or medial epicondylitis (tennis and golfer's elbow, respectively.) Therefore the present invention not only prevents these conditions from occurring, but by the strapping of the cable brace to the user's arm 12, the pain causing strain on the arm is greatly alleviated.

[0038] In compliance with the statutes, the invention has been described in language more or less specific as to structural features and process steps. While the present invention is susceptible to embodiment in different forms, the specification illustrates preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention, and the disclosure is not intended to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described.

[0039] For instance, the orientation of the preferred Velcro® type of hook and loop fastener, discussed above, can be reversed, so that the preferred hook pad becomes an alternative loop pad and vice versa. Considerations such as comfort ease of manufacturing and use make the disclosed alternative preferred. However, the alternative configurations, especially of the hook and loop fasteners can be utilized in nearly an equivalent method or use of the present invention.

[0040] Those with ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that other embodiments and variations of the invention are possible, which employ the same inventive concepts as described above. Therefore, the invention is not to be limited except by the following claims, as appropriately interpreted in accordance with the doctrine of equivalents.





 
Previous Patent: Hanger attachment

Next Patent: Multipurpose carrying system