Title:
Torso support structures
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An upper torso support structure is provided to hold and/or restrict movement of a patient suffering from injuries or muscular or skeletal defects. The support is provided by a central spine (1) and a number of left and right pairs of flexible ribs (3) curving round in front of the central spine. The ribs are capable of being set in desired attitudes to restrict movement of the patient whose torso is held by the support structure.



Inventors:
Moore, Stuart (Herefordshire, GB)
Goldsmith, John Edward (Staffordshire, GB)
Application Number:
10/498374
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
06/10/2004
Assignee:
MOORE STUART
GOLDSMITH JOHN EDWARD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A61F5/02; A61G5/12; (IPC1-7): A47C3/025
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060138846Passenger seat with adjustable seat depthJune, 2006Frey et al.
20030052527Vehicle seat bottom support grid and method for making sameMarch, 2003Naumovski
20080018088Seat belt assemblyJanuary, 2008Gray
20090256405PASSENGER SEAT DEVICE FOR MOTOR VEHICLESOctober, 2009Peter et al.
20060075615Cushion with aesthetic exteriorApril, 2006Khambete
20090072606FOOT SUPPORT FOR A SAFETY SEATMarch, 2009Haberecht et al.
20070152485Form fitting connection between spindles and spindle holder of SLV gears by material shaping for the absorption of the crash loads required for this applicationJuly, 2007Ehrhardt
20080217981LEG REST FOR A STROLLERSeptember, 2008Ton-that
20100084902Link Mechanism for a chair and a chairApril, 2010Fukai
20080315653AUTOMATIC HEADREST ACTIVATION GEARDecember, 2008Brunner et al.
20020074847Covering for protecting users of motor vehicle seat beltsJune, 2002Terpselas



Primary Examiner:
WHITE, RODNEY BARNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. An upper torso support structure comprising a central spine and at least two left and right pairs of flexible ribs curving round in front of the central spine, the ribs being capable of being set in desired attitudes to restrict movement of a patient whose torso is held by the support structure.

2. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein each pair of ribs is slidably located onto the spine to enable the pair of ribs to be moved lengthwise across the spine, thus varying the respective lengths of the two ribs as they project to the left and right sides of the spine.

3. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein the pairs of ribs are mounted so as to be able to slide adjustably towards and away from the spine or be capable of rotation with respect to the spine.

4. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein the pairs of ribs are mounted so as to be able to slide adjustably up and down the spine.

5. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein the upper end of the spine carries a head support for the head of the patient.

6. A support structure according to claim 5, wherein the head support comprises a head rest with one or two left and right pairs of flexible ribs curving round in front of the head rest, the ribs being settable in desired attitudes to restrict movement of the head of a patient with respect to the head rest.

7. A support structure according to claim 5, wherein the head rest is tiltable and/or rotatable with respect to the spine.

8. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein each pair of ribs is in the form of a strip.

9. A support structure according to claim 8, wherein each pair of ribs is provided with a flexible strip of material lying parallel thereto, with a releasable locking arrangement being provided to lock each rib of the pair to its strip to aid in the fixing of the ribs against movement.

10. A support structure according to claim 8, wherein the ribs and/or the flexible strips are formed from bendable aluminium or thin steel.

11. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein the material for the ribs and/or the spine is selected so as to allow for some resilience from a set position, but with “memory” such that it will tend to return to the set position after flexing.

12. A support structure according to claim 11, wherein said material comprises a robust flexible composite of plastics material or a glassfibre material.

13. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein each rib comprises a row or rows of beads strung on a cable, the beads having non-straight through-passageways, together with a tensioning member to act to tension the cable within the passageways in the beads so as to lock the row of beads in a desired attitude.

14. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein the ribs are provided with external padding.

15. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein mountings for each pair of ribs are slidably carried by horizontally curved bars forming parts of the spine.

16. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein the base of the spine is attached to a seat platform, preferably such that the spine can be tilted forwards and backwards with respect to the seat.

17. A support structure according to claim 16, wherein the spine is connected to the platform such that it can be rotated about the seat platform.

18. A support structure according to claim 1, which is provided with mountings enabling it to be attached adjustably to an existing seat.

19. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein pivoted legs extend down from the front edge of the seat platform.

20. A support structure according to claim 19, wherein support members, to which said legs are pivoted, are slidably received within slots in the body of the seat platform.

21. A support structure according to claim 19, wherein height-adjustable and/or rotatable and/or laterally slidable footrests are carried by said legs.

22. A support structure according to claim 1, which incorporates hip support members, adjustable in position, which project forwards from the sides of the lower end of the spine.

23. A support structure according to claim 1, wherein shoulder support members are mounted near the upper end of the spine.

24. A support structure according to claim 23, wherein the shoulder supports incorporate rotatably adjustable end sections.

25. and 26 (cancelled).

Description:
[0001] Patients who suffer from muscular or skeletal defects or who are recovering from serious injuries or operations may need to be provided with substantial physical support, particularly for the upper torso, to enable them to maintain a seated attitude.

[0002] It is an object of this invention to provide an upper torso support structure which will provide such support and which is adjustable to suit the requirements of particular patients.

[0003] According to the invention there is provided an upper torso support structure comprising a central spine and at least two left and right pairs of flexible ribs curving round in front of the central spine, the ribs being capable of being set in desired attitudes to restrict movement of a patient whose torso is held by the support structure.

[0004] Preferably each pair of ribs will be slidably located onto the spine to enable the pair of ribs to be moved lengthwise across the spine, thus varying the respective lengths of the two ribs as they project to the left and right sides of the spine. It is also of advantage that the pairs of ribs should be mounted so as to be able to slide adjustably towards and away from the spine or be capable of rotation with respect to the spine. It is also preferred that the pairs of ribs should be mounted so as to be able to slide adjustably up and down the spine.

[0005] The upper end of the spine ideally carries a head support for the head of the patient. The head support can comprises a head rest with one or two left and right pairs of flexible ribs curving round in front of the head rest, the ribs being settable in desired attitudes to restrict movement of the head of a patient with respect to the head rest. Ideally the head rest will be tiltable and/or rotatable with respect to the spine.

[0006] In the preferred form each pair of ribs will be in the form of a strip. Ideally each pair of ribs could be provided with a flexible strip of material lying parallel thereto, with a releasable locking arrangement being provided to lock each rib of the pair to its strip to aid in the fixing of the ribs against movement.

[0007] The ribs and/or the flexible strips could be formed from bendable aluminium or thin steel. The material for the ribs is ideally selected so as to allow for some resilience from a set position, but with “memory” such that it will tend to return to the set position after flexing. The same characteristics can also apply to the material from which the spine is formed, which material could comprise a robust flexible composite of plastics material or a glassfibre material. As an alternative each rib could comprise a row or rows of beads strung on a cable, the beads having non-straight through-passageways, together with a tensioning member to act to tension the cable within the passageways in the beads so as to lock the row of beads in a desired attitude.

[0008] It is highly preferable that the ribs are provided with external padding.

[0009] The base of the spine may be attached to a seat platform, preferably such that the spine can be tilted forwards and backwards with respect to the seat. In one arrangement it is also of advantage that the spine is connected to the platform such that it can be rotated about the seat platform. Alternatively or additionally mountings for each pair of ribs could be slidably carried by horizontally curved bars forming parts of the spine.

[0010] Ideally the support structure will be provided with mountings enabling it to be attached adjustably to an existing seat. Additionally or alternatively, pivoted legs can extend down from the front edge of the seat platform. In a preferred construction support members, to which said legs are pivoted, are slidably received within slots in the body of the seat platform. Height-adjustable and/or rotatable and/or laterally slidable footrests can be carried by said legs.

[0011] The support structure can also incorporate hip support members, adjustable in position, which project forwards from the sides of the lower end of the spine. There may also be shoulder support members mounted near the upper end of the spine. The shoulder supports can incorporate rotatably adjustable end sections.

[0012] The invention may be performed in various ways and a preferred embodiment thereof will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a generalised illustration of one form of a torso support structure of this invention;

[0014] FIG. 2 is an underneath perspective view of the structure shown in FIG. 1;

[0015] FIG. 3 is a rear view of the structure shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

[0016] FIG. 4 shows a detail of a modification of part of the structure of FIG. 1;

[0017] FIGS. 5 and 6 are rear and side views respectively of an alternative form of torso support structure of this invention;

[0018] FIG. 7 illustrates the arrangement in the side view of FIG. 6, but in an alternative attitude;

[0019] FIG. 8 is a plan view of the arrangement of FIGS. 5 and 6; and

[0020] FIGS. 9, 10 and 11 are rear, front and side views respectively of a further example of a torso support structure of this invention.

[0021] The main part of the support structure shown in FIG. 1 comprises a spine 1 pivotally attached to a seat 2 and carrying support ribs 3 and a head support 4. The purpose of this mechanism is that a patient can be positioned on the seat 2 and then the location of the ribs 3 and the headrest 4 can be modified to suit the particular attitude of the patient who is to be supported. The vertical attitude of the patient can be adjusted by pivoting the spine 1 about a friction hinge 5A (shown in more detail in the other drawings). There can be a locking mechanism to hold the spine 1 in a desired attitude. Furthermore, as can be seen from FIG. 2, a support plate 5B for the hinged spine 1 is slidable in and out with respect to a mounting plate 6. Additionally the mounting plate 6, carrying the support plate 5B, can be rotated about an arcuate bar 7 with respect to the seat 2.

[0022] The ribs 3 themselves are slidably mounted in brackets 8 on the spine 1 such that the rib ends forming a pair of ribs 3 can be modified in length with respect to one another. The ribs 3 are formed from flexible aluminium sheet which can be bent into a desired attitude and will hold the positions into which they are formed. By suitable adjustment of the location and attitude of the ribs 3 and the positioning and tilt of the spine 1 it is possible to ensure that a patient can be held securely in an attitude which is most comfortable for him. For the ribs 3 in particular it is possible to provide flexible strips 3A (FIG. 4) lying parallel to these ribs. The flexible strips can also be distorted into an attitude, comparable to that for the ribs 3 (as they are adjusted to suit the comfort of the patient). Releasable locking arrangements in the form of slots 22 and tabs 23 are provided to lock the ends of the strip 3A to the ends of the rib 3 (as shown in FIG. 6). This will provide significant resistance to any tendency for the ribs 3 to be bent back out of the desired position, due to movement of the patient. An alternative locking arrangement could be achieved by using Velcro-type (Registered Trademark) releasable interconnecting parts instead of the tabs 23 and slots 22. The same principle could be applied to ribs 9 of the headrest 4.

[0023] Additionally, support is provided for the head of the patient by means of the headrest 4. Again this is provided with pairs of flexible ribs 9 which can be bent into an attitude suitable to support the shape of the head of the patient. Further adjustment is provided by the manner in which the headrest 4 is mounted on to the spine 1. The arrangement shown in FIG. 3 of the drawings is essentially the same as that shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 although there are certain modifications in detail to illustrate alternative structures or particular features of the whole arrangement. Thus FIG. 3 shows a headrest 4 in the form of just one pair of ribs 9. The headrest 4 is mounted on an articulated arm 10, which allows for rotation and alignment of the headrest into a desired position. A mounting 11 of the joint 10 onto the spine 1 can be slid up and down the spine 1 and then locked into a desired position. The arrangement of FIG. 3 also shows a modified structure for supporting the ribs 3 in the form of sleeves 12. Another feature shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 is the provision of adjustable hip support pads 13. These are carried on height-adjustable arms 14 connected to the spine 1, in such a manner that the pads 13 can be rotated and moved forwards and backwards along the arms 14 into positions which will be most comfortable for supporting the hips of a patient.

[0024] The headrest incorporating the ribs 9 and the hip support pads 13 will all be provided with suitable external padding to provide for comfort where they come into contact with the body of the patient.

[0025] The seat 2 is also provided with legs 15 pivoted about hinges 16. The hinges 16 are carried by support plates 17 (FIG. 2) which slide within the body of the seat 2 so that the forward location of each of the legs 15 with respect to the seat 2 can be modified as desired. The legs 15 carry footrests 18 mounted by rotatable joints 19 on brackets 20 which can be slid up and down the legs 15 and locked there in desired attitudes to suit a particular patient. A padded cushion 21 is provided on the seat 2.

[0026] In the arrangement shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 parts similar to those for the examples in FIGS. 1 to 3 are given the same reference numerals. In this arrangement, the main difference is the mounting of the bottom end of the spine 1 onto the arcuate bar 7. This is achieved by an angled pair of elbow-shaped arms 24 which provide for a further variation in the attitude of the system. Thus, as can be seen from FIG. 7, the pair of arms 24 can be moved to a new attitude 24A (or any desired intermediate position) so as both to raise the spine 1 vertically and move it rearwardly. This allows for persons of differing sizes or for the growth over time of a person using the support structure.

[0027] As can be seen quite clearly from FIGS. 5 and 6 and particularly FIG. 8, the structure can be adapted in a variation of ways to suit the particular attitude of a user suffering from spinal malformation. Thus, the pairs of ribs 3 can be slid sideways relative to one another within the brackets 8 so that a sideways twist in the spine can be accommodated. Vertical displacement can be accommodated by sliding plates 25 in and out with respect to the spine 1. The headrest 4 can be rotated and raised up and down about the arm 10 to allow for the positioning of the head with respect to the rest of the body. The arms 14 carrying the pads 13 can be adjusted rotatably about a support 26 and can also be moved in and out by virtue of the telescopic portion 27 and the pads 13 themselves can be swivelled. Lastly, the whole of the back support structure can be rotated with respect to the seat 2 about the arcuate bar 7. Fixing members are provided to lock each of the parts in the final desired attitude.

[0028] In the arrangement shown in FIGS. 9 to 11 the main difference is that mounting members 28 which carry the pairs of ribs 3 are individually mounted on separate curved bars 29. Again, each pair of ribs 3 can be slid in and out on a plate 30 and this plate can also be rotated with respect to a locking nut 31. This structure is designed to be mounted as a seat back on an easy chair by mounting of brackets 32, 33. The upper part of the framework carries shoulder support members 34, the end part 35 of which can be rotated and/or slid in and out to a desired position to provide a comfortable shoulder support for the user.

[0029] The structures shown in the drawings allow for multi position support of a user. There is also a degree of adjustment to allow for growth over time of the user and for modification in the attitude adopted by the body of the user. The user will be located on the seat and the pairs of ribs 3 will be adjusted to suit the adopted attitude of the user with the ends of the ribs being forced into new fixed positions as needed. Straps will be provided between the ends of the ribs of each pair to hold the user in place.

[0030] The spine of the type shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, for example, can be formed from a material (such as fibreglass) which can absorb energy when subjected to a sudden movement which might occur during a spasm experienced by the user. This enables the user to move to accommodate the spasm, but returns the user to the normal resting position. The leg rests 15 can also be formed from a similar material so that they too can absorb the energy of a spasm. Locating members can be provided to sit behind the leg rests 15 at a desired vertical height so as to limit the extent of the leg rest which can flex during a spasm. Similarly, a fixing bracket could be provided for the spine 1 to hold the lower portion of the spine (up to a desired height) in a fairly rigid position, thus allowing only the upper portion of the spine 1 to flex. The leg rests are capable of being rotated about their mounting to allow for differing pitch angles of the legs of the user.