Title:
Washable, protective hip pad construction
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A thin, light weight, flexible, washable protective hip pad is incorporated into a pocket of washable underwear at the hip. This pad comprises a hermetically sealed plastic envelope extending substantially throughout the pocket, a solid foam insert layer having a configuration that extends substantially throughout the envelope in contiguity with the inner walls of the envelope, and a junction arrangement between the insert layer and at least one inner face of the envelope. The arrangement is such that the extent of the configuration of the insert layer is maintained substantially throughout the envelope, flexibility is maintained by slippage between contiguous faces of the insert layer and at least a wall of the envelope, and compression and redistribution of air occurs where and when any point of the hip pad assemblage is subject to impact. The arrangement remains intact when the pad is repeatedly bent, twisted or otherwise deformed during washing or wearing.



Inventors:
Goodwin, Edward L. (Canton, MA, US)
Application Number:
10/273985
Publication Date:
09/02/2004
Filing Date:
10/18/2002
Assignee:
GOODWIN EDWARD L.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/005; A41D13/05; (IPC1-7): A41D27/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LINDSEY, RODNEY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sunstein LLP (Boston, MA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A washable protective hip pad for incorporation into a pocket in the region of a hip in washable underwear, said pad comprising an assemblage of a hermetically sealed plastic envelope, an insert layer therein, and restricted connection between said envelope and said layer; (a) said hermetically sealed plastic envelope extending substantially throughout said pocket; (b) said hermetically sealed plastic envelope containing said insert layer and a cleavage between said insert layer and at least a portion of one of the inner faces of the walls of said envelope; (c) said insert layer being a solid foam having an internal phase composed of air and an external phase composed of a polymer; (d) at least a partial cleavage between said insert layer and at least one inner face of said walls; (e) said restricted connection including at least one physical junction; (f) said restricted connection being sufficiently limited in lateral extent to permit redistribution of air in said insert and said cleavage and being strategically placed to maintain said predetermined configuration substantially throughout said envelope despite repetitive deformation of said assemblage.

2. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein said solid foam includes an internal phase composed of air and an external phase composed of an elastomer.

3. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein each of said walls is composed of an outer layer of polymeric fabric and an inner layer of thermoplastic polymer.

4. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of junctions that are composed of thermoplastic welds.

5. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of junctions that are composed of bonding adhesive.

6. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of junctions that are composed of peripherally spaced spots.

7. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of an adhesive stratum bonding one face of said insert layer to an inner face of one of the walls.

8. The protective hip pad of claim 1 wherein said foam has open cells.

9. Washable underwear having at the hips a pair of opposed pockets incorporating a pair of the thin, light weight, flexible, washable protective hip pads, each hip pad comprising: (a) a hermetically sealed plastic envelope extending substantially throughout its pocket; (b) a solid foam insert layer having a configuration that extends substantially throughout said envelope in contiguity with the inner walls of said envelope; and (c) junctions between said insert layer and at least one inner face of said envelope; (d) a slight cleavage between major contiguous spans of said insert layer and said envelope in order to ensure that the extent of said configuration of said insert layer remains substantially throughout the envelope; (e) flexibility being maintained by permitting slippage between the contiguous faces of said insert layer and at least a wall of said envelope; (f) compression and redistribution of air occurring where and when any point of said hip pad assemblage is subject to impact; (g) said junction arrangements maintaining the generally contiguous and coextensive condition of the envelope and the insert layers when the assemblages of the envelope and insert layer are repeatedly bent, twisted or otherwise deformed during washing or wearing.

10. The washable underwear of claim 9 wherein said solid foam includes an internal phase composed of air and an external phase composed of an elastomer.

11. The washable underwear of claim 9 wherein each of said walls is composed of an outer layer of polymeric fabric and an inner layer of thermoplastic polymer.

12. The washable underwear of claim 9 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of junctions that are composed of thermoplastic welds.

13. The washable underwear of claim 9 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of junctions that are composed of plastic adhesive.

14. The washable underwear of wherein said restricted connection is in the form of junctions that are composed of peripherally spaced spots.

15. The washable underwear of claim 9 wherein said restricted connection is in the form of an adhesive stratum bonding one face of said insert layer to an inner face of one of the walls.

16. The washable underwear of claim 9 wherein said foam has open cells.

17. A washable protective hip pad for incorporation into a pocket in the region of a hip in washable underwear, said pad comprising an assemblage of a hermetically sealed plastic envelope, an insert layer therein, and restricted connection between said envelope and said layer; (a) said hermetically sealed plastic envelope extending substantially throughout said pocket; (b) said hermetically sealed plastic envelope containing said insert layer and a cleavage between said insert layer and at least one of the inner faces of the walls of said envelope; (c) said insert layer being a solid foam having an internal phase composed of air and an external phase composed of a polymer; (d) a cleavage between said insert layer and at least one inner face of said walls; (e) said restricted connection including one or more physical junctions; (f) said junctions being sufficiently limited in lateral extent to permit redistribution of air in said insert and said cleavage and being strategically placed to maintain said predetermined configuration substantially throughout said envelope despite repetitive deformation of said assemblage; (g) each of said walls being composed of a laminate having an outer fabric stratum and an inner thermoplastic stratum; (h) said insert layer being composed of an open cell solid foam having an internal air phase and an external thermoplastic phase; (i) the inner thermoplastic stratum of each wall and the external phase of said insert layer being composed essentially of polyurethane; (j) said fabric stratum being composed of a textile produced from a high melting point plastic; (k) said fabric being in the range of from 50 to 500 denier; (l) the thickness of said laminate ranging from 1 to 6 mils.

18. The washable protective hip pad of claim 17 wherein said thermoplastic of said walls and the thermoplastic of said insert layer is polyurethane.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] 1. Field of the Invention

[0004] The present invention relates to protective anatomical pads, and, more particularly, to protective hip pads that are worn as underwear accessories by the elderly and/or infirm to guard against random injuries to the hip that often occur as a result of inattention, accident, or the like.

[0005] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0006] What might be a minor injury to a young person might constitute a serious trauma to an elderly or infirm person. Injuries to the hip are a relatively common and important case in point. Protective pads have been provided for permanent incorporation in patch pockets of underbriefs for elderly and/or infirm men and women. These patch pockets and the protective pads they contain cover the hip bones and overlap adjacent anterior and posterior regions, particularly of the buttocks. Such patch pockets position the protective pads to protect against physical shock due to inadvertent falling or other physical contact. For this purpose, one example of a protective pad of the prior art is a thin assemblage that comprises a hermetically sealed plastic envelope and an open cell foam insert layer contained freely therein. In a particular prior art example, the envelope is in the form of a thin film, composed for example of polyurethane backed by nylon fabric, and the insert layer is in the form of a thin solid foam stratum having an internal phase composed of open cells of air, and an external phase composed of elastomeric polyurethane.

[0007] The intent of the pad design is such: (1) that it be sufficiently flexible for comfort, and (2) that, on impact at any point or region of the pad, air inside the insert layer and the cleavage between the insert layer and a contiguous region of the envelope, thereby distributes the force of the impact and reduces its intensity at the point or region of impact. One problem has been difficulty in maintaining these requirements due to a tendency of the insert layer to crumple and/or roll up during the tumbling that occurs when the underbrief and pad assemblage is machine washed. Specifically, when the insert layer is not fully extended within the envelope but is crumpled into a mass, the product becomes unwearable. This problem is resolved by the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The object of the present invention is to provide a thin, light weight, flexible, washable protective hip pad, for incorporation into a pocket, preferably a patch pocket, of washable underwear at the hip, which pad comprises: a hermetically sealed plastic envelope extending substantially throughout the pocket; a solid foam insert layer having a configuration that extends substantially throughout the envelope in contiguity with the inner walls of the envelope; and one or more strategically structured physical junctions between the insert layer and at least one inner face of the envelope. The physical junction arrangement is such as to provide and to maintain a slight cleavage between major contiguous spans of the insert layer and the inner face or faces of the envelope in order to ensure the following. The junction arrangement: (1) operates to maintain the extent of the configuration of the insert layer substantially throughout the envelope; (2) maintains flexibility by permitting slippage between contiguous faces of the insert layer and at least a wall of the envelope; and (3) permits compression and redistribution of air where and when any point of the hip pad assemblage is subject to impact. In other words, the junction arrangement maintains the generally contiguous and coextensive condition of the envelope and the insert layer when the assemblage of the envelope and insert layer is repeatedly bent, twisted or otherwise deformed during laundering. Preferably, the insert layer is composed of a solid foam having and internal phase of open air cells and an external phase of visco-elastic urethane.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the present invention, reference is to be made to the following specification, which is to be taken with the accompanying drawings wherein:

[0010] FIG. I is a perspective view of a hip pad embodying the present invention;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a view of a washable underbrief that permanently incorporates a pair of washable hip pads in accordance with the present invention;

[0012] FIG. 3 is an exaggerated cross-sectional view of the hip pad of FIG. 1, taken along the lines 3-3 of FIG. 1;

[0013] FIG. 4 is an exaggerated cross-sectional view, analogous to that of FIG. 3, illustrating details of another embodiment of the present invention; and

[0014] FIG. 5 is an exaggerated cross-sectional view, analogous to that of FIG. 3, illustrating details of a further embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0015] The embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 3 comprises an underbrief 20 having a pair of opposed patch pockets 22 and 24. Each pocket extends over a hip and overlaps regions of the body that are anterior and posterior with respect to the hip. Confined within and extending throughout the pockets are identical hip pad assemblages 26 and 28. Typically, each pad is round, more specifically circular or oval with dimensions ranging from 5 to 10 inches in its longest diameter, and preferably approximately 8 inches in its longest diameter. Generally, the area and thickness of the pad are less than 60 square inches and less than 1 inch, respectively.

[0016] As shown in FIG. 3, hip pad assemblage 26 comprises an external envelope 30 and an insert layer 32. Preferably, the external envelope and the insert layer are substantially coextensive, and circular or oval in shape. The walls of the envelope define an inner laminar region 38, the edges of which are bonded together as at 40 and 42 throughout their peripheries to provide an outwardly extending peripheral flange shown at 44 and 46. Insert layer 32 preferably is an open cell, solid foam having a laminar configuration that extends substantially throughout inner laminar region 38 in contiguity with the opposed inner faces of walls 34 and 36.

[0017] As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the opposed faces of insert layer 32 are generally contiguous with, i.e. in free contact with or slightly spaced from, the inner faces of walls 34 and 36 at cleavage regions 35 and 37. Insert layer 32 is bonded to the inner face of wall 36 by four spot junctions 48, 50, 52 and 54, which are located equidistantly around the circumference of the envelope.

[0018] Another embodiment is shown in FIG. 4. Here, the envelope walls are shown at 56 and 58 as being bonded around their periphery, as at 60 and 62. Within the envelope is an insert layer 64. One face of insert layer 64 is bonded to the inner face of wall 56 by four spot junctions, two of which are shown at 66 and 68. The other face of insert layer 64 is bonded to the inner face of wall 58 by four spot junctions, two of which are shown at 70 and 72.

[0019] A further embodiment is shown in FIG. 5. Here, the envelope walls are shown at 76 and 78 as being bonded around their periphery, as at 80 and 82. Within the envelope is an insert layer 84. One face of insert layer 84 is connected to the inner face of wall 78 by a junction in the form of a bonding stratum 86 between the contiguous faces of insert layer 84 and wall 78. The other face of insert layer 84 is free.

[0020] The following non-limiting examples further illustrate the product of the present invention.

EXAMPLE I

[0021] In the example of the assemblage illustrated in FIG. 3, details of the various components are as follows. Each of the envelope walls is composed of a laminate having an outer fabric stratum and an inner thermoplastic stratum. The insert layer is composed of an open cell solid foam having an internal air phase and an external thermoplastic phase. Preferably, the inner thermoplastic stratum of each wall and the external phase of the insert layer are composed of essentially the same thermoplastic, for example, polyurethane. Preferably, the fabric stratum is composed of a textile produced from a high melting point plastic (450° F.) sold by DuPont under the trade designation, “NYLON”. The fabric typically is in the range of from 50 to 90 denier, and preferably is approximately 70 denier. The thickness of the laminate of each wall ranges from 1 to 6 mils and preferably is approximately 3 mils.

EXAMPLE II

[0022] In furtherance of EXAMPLE I, the junctions are formed by welding together the thermoplastic faces of the walls throughout their perimeters, and spot welding the walls to the insert layer at a temperature above the softening point of polyurethane and under a pressure necessary to achieve coalescence and integration of the polyurethane surfaces. Typically, the diameter of each of the spot welds range from ½ to 1½ inch, and preferably no greater than 1 inch. In essence the diameters of the junctions are limited to preserve lateral flexibility and free flow of air between the open cells of the insert layer and the adjacent cleavage regions.

EXAMPLE III

[0023] In the embodiment of FIG. 4, the materials of the walls and the insert layer are respectively identical to their counterparts in FIG. 3. However, here there area two sets of four equidistantly spaced junctions. Two of the junctions of one of the sets are shown at 66 and 68 between insert layer 64 and wall 56. Two of the junctions of the other of the sets are shown at 70 and 72 between insert layer 64 and wall 58.

EXAMPLE IV

[0024] In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the materials of the walls and the insert layer are respectively identical to their counterparts in FIG. 3. Here, chemical bonding is achieved with a flexible polymeric adhesive, preferably a flexible polyurethane adhesive. As shown, one of the faces of insert layer 84 is bonded by flexible polyurethane adhesive stratum 86 to the inner face of wall 78. The other of the faces of insert layer 84 is free for the purpose of maintaining flexibility. Also, the two walls 76 and 78 are bonded by flexible polyurethane adhesive throughout their peripheries as shown at 80 and 82.

OPERATION

[0025] A pair of the thin, light weight, flexible, washable protective hip pads is incorporated into opposed pockets of washable underwear at the hips. Each pad comprises a hermetically sealed plastic envelope extending substantially throughout the pocket, a solid foam insert layer having a configuration that extends substantially throughout the envelope in contiguity with the inner walls of the envelope, and junctions between the insert layer and at least one inner face of the envelope. The arrangement operates to provide and to maintain a slight cleavage between major contiguous spans of the insert layer and the inner face or faces of the envelope in order to ensure that the extent of the configuration of the insert layer remains substantially throughout the envelope, flexibility is maintained by permitting slippage between contiguous faces of the insert layer and at least a wall of the envelope, and compression and redistribution of air occurs where and when any point of either hip pad assemblage is subject to impact. The junction arrangements maintain the generally contiguous and coextensive condition of the envelope and the insert layers when the assemblages of the envelope and insert layer are repeatedly bent, twisted or otherwise deformed during washing or wearing.