Title:
Multi-use support pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a single piece, multi-use support pillow with ends of varying heights (28 and 34) and dual inclined support surfaces (22) designed to contour and support differing parts of a human body, which helps to maintain proper body alignment with even distribution of weight throughout muscular/skeletal system of an individual. The support pillow provides support with a contour fit for potentially all of the following areas: head, neck, shoulders, torso, back, thighs, knees, shins, ankles, feet, and toes.



Inventors:
Guarino, Joseph F. (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/059067
Publication Date:
07/07/2005
Filing Date:
02/15/2005
Assignee:
GUARINO JOSEPH F.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/632, 5/648
International Classes:
A47C20/00; A47C20/02; A47G9/10; A61G7/065; A61G7/075; (IPC1-7): A47G9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SAFAVI, MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Benjamin Aaron Adler (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A support pillow for one or more areas of a human body comprising: a single-piece pillow body of uniform density having a flat lower surface; an upper surface disposed at an incline to the lower surface, wherein said lower surface and said upper surface form oppositely disposed ends therebetween; and side edges disposed along the upper surface between said oppositely disposed ends.

2. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said upper surface is planar or curved.

3. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said side edges are linear or curved.

4. The support pillow of claim 3, wherein side edges are curved proximate to one of said oppositely disposed ends.

5. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein one or both of said oppositely disposed ends curves outwardly.

6. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein one or both of said oppositely disposed ends have an upper outwardly curved component and a lower planar component.

7. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein the end at a lower edge of said inclined surface is planar.

8. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said upper inclined surface in combination with one or both of said ends of the pillow body comprises a support means for the support pillow.

9. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said upper inclined surface in combination with one of said ends of the pillow body and one of said side edges comprises a support means for the support pillow.

10. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said upper inclined surface in combination with one or both of said ends of the pillow body and one or both of said side edges comprises a support means for the support pillow.

11. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said pillow body has a width of about 13 in.

12. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein said pillow body has a length of about 25 in.

13. The support pillow of claim 1, wherein one of said oppositely disposed ends has a height up to about 1.0 inches and the other of said oppositely disposed ends has a height of about 3 inches to about 4 inches.

14. A support pillow for one or more areas of a human body, comprising: a single-piece pillow body of uniform density a flat lower surface; a planar upper surface disposed at an incline to the lower surface, wherein said lower surface and said upper surface form oppositely disposed curved ends therebetween; and side edges disposed along the upper surface between said oppositely disposed ends.

15. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein said oppositely disposed ends curve outwardly.

16. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein said inclined planar upper surface in combination with one or both of said ends of the pillow body comprises a support means for the support pillow.

17. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein said inclined planar upper surface in combination with one of said ends of the pillow body and one of said side edges comprises a support means for the support pillow.

18. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein said inclined planar upper surface in combination with one or both of said ends of the pillow body and one or both of said side edges comprises a support means for the support pillow.

19. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein said pillow body has a width of about 13 inches.

20. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein said pillow body has a length of about 25 inches.

21. The support pillow of claim 14, wherein one of said curved ends has a height up to about 1.0 inches and the other of said curved ends has a height of about 3 inches to about 4 inches.

22. A method of maintaining body alignment and weight distribution of an individual in a substantially prone position to prevent or alleviate stress on the body during a period of rest, comprising: positioning the pillow body of the support pillow of claim 1 in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body encompassing shins, ankles and feet of the individual; or positioning said pillow body in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body encompassing the head, the head and neck or the head, neck and shoulder of the individual; or positioning said pillow body in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body encompassing the torso of the individual; or positioning two or three pillow bodies in supportive juxtaposition to two or three of said supported areas; wherein the juxtaposition of the inclined upper surface in combination with one or both of the ends or with one or both of the side edges or with one or both of said ends and one or both of said side edges of said pillow body to one or more of said areas of the body maintains body alignment and body support in the substantially prone position thereby preventing or alleviating stress thereon.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of non-provisional U.S. Ser. No. 10/403,586, filed Mar. 31, 2003, which claims benefit of provisional U.S. Ser. No. 60/371,082, filed Apr. 9, 2002, now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to body support pillows. Specifically the invention relates to a multi-use support pillow having an additional, novel utility for lower leg support and body alignment while resting in a substantially horizontal bodily position.

2. Description of the Related Art

For many years inventors and laypersons have attempted to find improved ways to achieve a more peaceful and pain-free lateral resting position. They have done so with the hopes of lessening issues of tossing and turning, discomfort, unease, or resultant bodily pain. These issues are associated with each of the three different, main resting positions, that is, either on one's side, stomach, or back. Furthermore, within each of these three main resting positions, there are varying degrees of positioning that also lead to the same or similar problems.

For each of these main resting positions, there arise different issues with which to contend, all of which have been associated primarily and more specifically with back, hip, or neck discomfort. In part, these discomforts are caused by the incongruencies between the flat resting surface and the natural curvatures of the body, combined with the effects of gravity. Resolving these discomforts has and still remains one of the major objectives for those who work in the current field. It is clear there is still a great need for additional resolution to these incongruencies. This is demonstrated easily by the continuing actions of the many persons in the world who are still searching for ways to achieve a better night's sleep, as well as the millions who are still waking every day with bodily pain and discomfort.

For example, while resting on one's side, the leg that is non-adjacent to the resting surface, the “top” leg, will drop to the resting surface resulting in a downward pull on the top of the hip or lower-back, whereby potential discomfort is caused in both areas. Also, it will always be the case with this resting position that there is an uneven or asymmetrical distribution of weight on the body from the affects of gravity, which can lead to discomfort, unease, or poor muscular and skeletal alignment. There is no way to totally resolve this situation, unless the affects of gravity on the body are stopped altogether. However, assistance is found in the current art for persons who choose to rest on his or her side.

A support designed to fit between the legs for elevation helps achieve a more even lateral upper leg, hip, and back alignment. Some of the current support means accomplishes this, but many do not provide support for the lower part of the leg. Thus, the lower leg will still pull down on the area above the knee region, which potentially causes a problem similar to the original one, albeit it possibly with less intensity of resultant discomfort. There still remains a great potential for resultant discomfort on the knee, thigh and hip region instead of the lower back under such circumstances. The original issue might be resolved to some extent, but new ones arise because of these ‘half-solutions’. It is also clear that much of the prior art does not allow for versatility in use for other areas of the body, inter alia, head, neck, back, hips, thighs, ankles, feet, and limits maneuverability of the user, while being offered as a single unit design.

While resting on one's back, the primary discomfort is found in the lower back region, with potential discomfort all the way up into the neck. The primary cause for the lower back discomfort is the shape of the lower spinal curvature juxtaposed with the flat resting surface. This natural body curvature prevents an even distribution of body weight on the resting, support surface, which subsequently leads to muscular or skeletal discomfort. Attempts to solve this problem have been made by placing a support for elevation underneath the back of the thighs. This means of support helps rotate the buttocks and hips upward and pulls the lower spine curvature downward, which allows the lower back region to rest more evenly on the resting surface area, thus lessening the strain on the lower-back muscles and spine. Many means of support in the current art provide such support, but lack versatility of use or are very bulky in size, which takes away from the maneuverability of the user. Furthermore, when not in use, storage of such items is aesthetically unpleasing or inconvenient for the user.

Resting on one's stomach has been linked primarily to back and hip discomfort, yet this resting position, if the body is aligned symmetrically, allows for an even distribution of weight throughout the entire body. Symmetrical body positioning and even weight distribution are desirable, as the muscular and skeletal pressures are the same on both sides or halves of the body, allowing for even stress from the affects of gravity on the body as a system, which simultaneously grows or repairs itself during the resting period. Also, in this resting position, most, but not all, of the body is capable of resting evenly on the resting surface, and this is where the identification of original discomfort begins. The eventual tossing and turning or lower back or hip discomfort, stress, or pain associated with this resting position can be identified and understood through a process-oriented perspective.

In the stomach resting position, most of the trunk and lower body will lie evenly on the resting surface, but the top of the delicate toes and feet will carry the burden of the weight of the lower leg. The shin, foot, and ankle areas are incapable of resting flat or evenly along the resting surface. This happens due to the inability of most persons to fully straighten the ankle in respect to the shin. This leads to eventual discomfort in the top of the delicate toes, feet, or ankles.

The body then compensates by pivoting one or both of the ankles to the side and, because everything in the body is connected, the rest of the leg and hip pivot to the side as well. The discomfort is alleviated in the foot area, but new discomforts arise in the hips or lower-back due to asymmetry in body positioning and weight distribution or to the unnatural position when both legs pivot out at close to a 90 degree angle starting at the ankles. With this new set of circumstantial discomforts, the body does not return to the original point of discomfort, but generally compensates again with an upward movement of one of the legs, thereby temporarily relieving the static position associated with the discomfort in the hip or lower-back regions. Unfortunately, this only increases the asymmetry of body positioning with greater likelihood of discomfort and potential bodily pains with every inch of leg movement upward, because the amount of asymmetry is increased as the leg moves up and away from the body, along with an increased lack of support with upward torso elevation away from the support surface. The cycle is set in motion until the person turns completely over onto the side, which brings into play an entirely new set of circumstantial discomforts.

While resting on one's side, as stated previously, because of the totally asymmetrical position of the body and the apparent irresolvable affects of gravity, discomfort will arise for most persons, at which point the person will either turn over onto the back (again with a new set of circumstantial discomforts as described above), onto the opposite side with only temporary relief, or return to resting on the stomach. The vicious cycle continues with tossing and turning all night, which takes away from the quality of rest the body needs, all with discomfort and potentially resultant bodily pains within and upon rising from the resting context.

Hence, from a process-oriented perspective, the originating point(s) for discomfort are identified and how the subsequent byproduct of tossing and turning, unease, or bodily pains is caused is understood. From this point a proper solution can be devised and offered to help persons achieve a healthier period of rest.

However, attempts at resolution have been aimed at fighting the byproduct, instead of attacking the root causal factor. This is one of the greatest unmet needs of today's current art of pillow support. In fact, the prior art teaches away from resting on the stomach. U.S. Pat. No. 5,199,124 is designed for the purpose of preventing a person from resting on his or her stomach. Additionally, U.S. Pat. No. 6,182,314 states that one of the objectives of the invention is to inhibit an individual from lying on his or her stomach.

Head or neck discomforts are associated with all of these aforementioned resting positions. The current field has found numerous ways of supporting the head and neck in differing positions to resolve potential discomfort, but there are drawbacks that pertain to versatility of the head support overall, which essentially locks the user into one or two resting positions alone. An example of this is U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,401 that discloses a support pillow having two curved sides for a person to rest either on his or her side or back, but lacks the versatility to be used while resting on the stomach. This support pillow also lacks ‘flippability’ for equal use on either lateral side of the support surface and can only be used on one side.

Generally, most prior support articles until now have addressed only part of the problem. These prior support articles have limited areas of body coverage and lack the proper intervention point(s) whereby a more peaceful period of rest can be accomplished, while allowing for versatility of use and maneuverability of the user and while simultaneously maintaining desired comfort levels. Further drawbacks include bulkiness of the support articles, expense of manufacturing, which equals end-user expense, inadequate support, or lack of ease in storing the support object when not in use. This field is crowded with many pillows, mattresses, cushions, and wedges made of gelatin, liquid, or air filled for the head, neck, torso, back, hips, thighs, knees, feet, and ankles. Not one of these is, by design, used potentially for all these different areas of the body, while in any lateral resting position, and offered as a single-piece unit.

In considering prior art mattresses, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,665,573 and 3,808,615 disclose attempts by the inventors to help support either the ankles and foot area, lower-back, or head and neck areas. Both inventions provide a limited amount of maneuverability by the users, i.e., a user cannot rest in a diagonal position in respect to the mattress itself. Other obvious drawbacks to both of these examples of mattresses are the expense, bulkiness of the unit and lack of versatility in use.

With respect to the torso area body of coverage, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,245,719 and 5,497,519 each disclose very bulky units that restrict the ways in which the body may be positioned and that lack versatility in use. With respect to back of the thigh elevation for lower-back support, U.S. Pat. No. 4,432,108 is limited in that the support continues down toward the ankle area thereby losing the leg's potential for side-to-side pivoting, as well as locking the user into one resting position alone. See also U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,173,979 and 5,497,520. The size of both units is very large and bulky, and essentially restricts the range of movements of the user. This limits the user to one body position alone, negating the possibility of lying on the side or stomach. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,797,153 and 5,878,453 both exemplify attempts to solve the lower-back issue through thigh elevation support means, but both are bulky units that limit the user's maneuverability on the resting surface and lack versatility of use, in particular, fully resting on one's stomach.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,182,314 instantiates a support means for elevation of the upper thighs for lower-back support and alignment while resting on one's back, as well as a different use of placing the support between the knees and legs for lateral body alignment while resting on one's side. It comprises versatile elevation through removable/attachable layers for varying sizes and comfort of the user, which in itself is an agreeable way to help more people, however the user must change the elevation of the unit outside the resting context. This adds to complexity of use and makes it more probable that the user will be aroused from an otherwise potentially more restful state. In respect to resting on the side, this item only supports the thighs and does not allow the user to support the entire leg, which leads to potential discomfort, as described above, in the knee and hip areas. This support means also lacks the versatility of use while resting on the stomach, and as also mentioned above, teaches away from resting on the stomach.

Other prior art support pillows do not have a unit body structure. U.S. Pat. No. 4,803,743 discloses a therapeutic pillow for supporting the head and neck. Support is provided by a pair of pillow members which when bonded together combine to form a pillow of variable densities. Thus, in addition to a more complex structure, the degree of support varies throughout the pillow and is dependent upon placement of the head and neck on a particular location on the pillow surface. The support pillow is not designed to support and align parts of the body other than the head and neck.

A need in the art still exists to provide a single multi-use support pillow capable of supporting almost any body part or combination of body parts in any substantially horizontal resting position with the added ease of adjustment for size and comfort levels inside the resting position. Specifically, the prior art is deficient in a multi-use support pillow combining an inclined support surface with supportive ends and side edges to provide the proper support and body alignment for those who choose to rest on the side, stomach, back, or throughout the range of different possible resting positions therebetween. The present invention fulfills this long-standing need and desire in the art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The multi-use support pillow described herein is constructed to provide satisfaction and resolution for an existing unmet need in providing more comfortable resting support and posture for an individual in any substantially horizontal position. The multi-use support pillow is lightweight, non-bulky, easy to use and inexpensive. An inclined support surface in combination with curved and/or partially curved and/or uncurved or planar ends and supportive side edges provides improved support for the toes, ankles, feet, shins, thighs, back, torso, shoulders, neck, and head or combinations thereof for individuals who choose to rest on the side, stomach, back, or throughout the range of different possible resting positions therebetween. Size and comfort versatility is accommodated by having the user simply and easily adjust for different size and comfort levels inside the resting position with a mere shift of the support structure in respect to the body.

The present invention is directed to a support pillow for one or more areas of a human body. The pillow comprises a single-piece pillow body. of a uniformly dense pillow material that has a flat lower surface and an upper surface disposed at an incline to the lower surface, where the lower surface and the upper surface form oppositely disposed ends therebetween, and side edges disposed along the upper surface between the oppositely disposed ends.

The present invention also is directed to a related support pillow for one or more areas of a human body also comprising a single piece pillow body of a uniformly dense pillow material. The related support pillow comprises a planar upper surface disposed at an incline to a flat lower surface, where the lower surface and the planar upper surface form oppositely disposed curved ends therebetween, and side edges disposed along the upper surface between the oppositely disposed ends.

The present invention also is directed to a method of maintaining body alignment and weight distribution within an individual in a substantially prone position to prevent or alleviate stress on the body during a period of rest. The pillow body comprising the support pillow described herein is positioned in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body of the individual. The area of the body may encompass the shins, ankles and feet or may encompass the head, the head and neck or the head, neck and shoulder or encompass the torso. Alternatively two or three pillow bodies may be positioned in supportive juxtaposition to two or three of the supported areas. The juxtaposition of the inclined upper surface in combination with one or both of the ends or with one or both of the side edges or with one or both of the ends and one or both of the side edges of the pillow body to one or more of the areas of the body maintains body alignment and weight distribution in the substantially prone position thereby preventing or alleviating stress thereon.

Other and further aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention. These embodiments are given for the purpose of disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 exemplifies a perspective view of the support pillow.

FIG. 2A exemplifies a side view of a person resting on the stomach with an inability to completely straighten the foot in respect to the shin. FIG. 2B exemplifies a side view of the toe, foot, and ankle support use while resting on one's stomach.

FIG. 3 exemplifies a side/over view of the torso support use for a person resting on an inclined stomach-to-side resting position.

FIG. 4 exemplifies a side view of the face-angled down, head and neck support use while resting on one's stomach.

FIG. 5 exemplifies a side view of a lower curved-end head support use while resting on one's stomach.

FIG. 6 exemplifies a side view of the higher curved-end neck and head support use while resting on one's side.

FIG. 7 exemplifies a side view of the between the thighs, knees, and ankles support use while resting on one's side.

FIG. 8A exemplifies a side view of a person resting on his or her back with the lower spinal curvature's inability to lie evenly on the resting surface.

FIG. 8B exemplifies a side view of the under-the-thigh, lower-back support use while resting on one's back.

FIG. 9 exemplifies a side view of the higher curved end neck and head support use while resting on one's back.

FIG. 10 exemplifies a side view of the inclined head, neck, or shoulder support use while resting on one's back.

FIG. 11 exemplifies a perspective view of one possible alternative embodiment.

FIG. 12 exemplifies a perspective view of another possible alternative embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment of the present invention there is provided a support pillow for one or more areas of a human body, comprising a single-piece pillow body of a uniformly dense material having a flat lower surface; an upper surface disposed at an incline to the lower surface, where the lower surface and the upper surface form oppositely disposed ends therebetween; and side edges disposed along the upper surface between the oppositely disposed ends.

In all aspects of this embodiment the pillow body may have a width of about 13 inches. Also, the pillow body may have a length of about 25 inches. Additionally, one of the oppositely disposed ends may have a height up to about 1.0 inches and the other of the oppositely disposed ends may have a height of about 3 inches to about 4 inches.

In aspects of this embodiment, the upper surface of the support pillow may be planar or curved. Also, in other aspects one or both of the oppositely disposed ends curve outwardly. Alternatively, one or both of the oppositely disposed ends may have an upper outwardly curved component and a lower planar component. In another aspect, the end at a lower edge of the inclined surface may be planar. In additional aspects, the side edges may be linear or curved. In a particular aspect the side edges may be curved proximate to one of said oppositely disposed ends.

In one aspect of this embodiment, the upper inclined surface in combination with one or both of said ends of the pillow body comprises a support means for the support pillow. In another related aspect, the upper inclined surface in combination with one of the ends of the pillow body and one of the side edges comprises a support means for the support pillow. In yet another related aspect, the upper inclined surface in combination with one or both of the ends of the pillow body and one or both of the side edges comprises a support means for the support pillow.

In a related embodiment of the present invention there is provided a support pillow for one or more areas of a human body, comprising a single-piece pillow body of a uniformly dense material having a flat lower surface; a planar upper surface disposed at an incline to the lower surface, where the lower surface and the upper surface form oppositely disposed curved ends therebetween; and side edges disposed along the upper surface between the oppositely disposed ends. In an aspect of this embodiment the oppositely disposed ends may curve outwardly. Furthermore, in all aspects the dimensions of the pillow body and the support means comprising the combinations of the inclined planar upper surface, one or both of the curved ends and one or both of the side edges is as described supra.

In another embodiment of the present invention there is provided a method of maintaining body alignment and weight distribution of an individual in a substantially prone position to prevent or alleviate stress on the body during a period of rest comprising positioning the pillow body of the support pillow described supra in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body encompassing shins, ankles and feet of the individual; or positioning said pillow body in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body encompassing the head, the head and neck or the head, neck and shoulder of the individual; or positioning said pillow body in supportive juxtaposition to an area of the body encompassing the torso of the individual; or positioning two or three pillow bodies in supportive juxtaposition to two or three of said supported areas; where the juxtaposition of the inclined planar upper surface in combination with one or both of the ends or with one or both of the side edges or with one or both of said ends and one or both of said side edges of said pillow body to one or more of said areas of the body maintains body alignment and weight distribution in the substantially prone position thereby preventing or alleviating stress thereon.

The present invention provides a multi-use support pillow having numerous advantages over prior art support pillows that translate into higher quality in terms of functional versatility for certain uses in all main regions of the body. The multi-use support pillow provides greater overall user maneuverability along the resting surface. Thus, the support pillow provided herein is constructed to support the body at the head, neck, shoulders, back, torso, thighs, shins, ankles, feet, or toes, or appropriate anatomical combinations thereof, while resting on the side, back, stomach or varying degrees between these positions. Additionally, the multi-use support pillow comprises relatively inexpensive materials thereby potentially allowing a greater number of people to gain from the benefits the support pillow provides.

The multi-use support pillow is constructed as a single unit with a lower planar surface and an upper inclined support surface. The inclined support surface may be planar or curved. These surfaces comprise an upper end and a lower end therebetween. The ends each may be uniformly curved, partially curved or a combination thereof. The planar and incline support surfaces further have side edges therebetween. The side-edges may be linear or curved.

The configuration of the inclined support surface, one or both of the upper and lower ends of the support pillow, a side edge or a combination thereof provides the requisite support for the one or more body parts supported thereon. The dimensions of the multi-use support pillow results in ease of maneuverability while in a resting or substantially horizontal position. Additionally, the dimensions of the support pillow are defined so that one or more support pillows may be positioned to support different individual body parts or a combination of body parts such that proper symmetrical alignment of the entire body is maintained in the chosen position. The multi-use support pillow has dimensions, for example as described herein, although not limited to said, such that the use of one support pillow will not interfere with placement and proper support of additional support pillows used simultaneously.

Without being limited to values for length, width and height, it is contemplated that the support pillow may have increased or decreased dimensions, from those described herein. These may be determined, for example, by below average, average or above-average height ranges for humans, to provide proper support in a comfortable manner. Additionally, the use of a support pillow having an increase or decrease, or a combination thereof, in dimension(s) will not interfere with the simultaneous placement and proper support of the support pillow described herein.

The multi-use support pillow is a single piece construction of a light weight, uniformly dense and compressible, but supportive, material suitable for use in a pillow. For example, the support pillow may be a single-piece of foam shaped to have the support features described herein. Although not limited to such, an example of a foam material is a visco-elastic foam. The visco-elastic foam may comprise characteristics such as heat sensitivity and slow rebound from compression. This allows the pillow to “mold” to the areas of the body in contact with the support pillow. This in combination with the support provided by the configuration of the inclined surface, side edges and ends of the pillow prevents the pillow from being simply crushed or flattened by the body part supported thereon.

The multi-use support pillow may comprise a covering means. Pillow covers are well known and standard in the art and may comprise a light-weight cloth or fabric, such as, but not limited to, terry cloth. The support pillow itself may be spot cleaned. The cloth or fabric is washable, but, optionally, may be at least water-resistant or comprise a water-resistant or water-proof surface that is disposed adjacent the outer surface of the pillow body. The cloth or fabric may be treated to be at least water-resistant or comprise such properties in and of itself. Furthermore, the cloth or fabric may comprise a flame-retardant.

The multi-use support pillow may be inserted into an opening on the pillow cover that is designed so that the pillow cover completely covers and retains the support pillow therein. Alternatively, the pillow cover further may comprise means to fasten the pillow cover. Fastening means may be, but are not limited to, a zipper, snaps, buttons, or Velcro. The pillow cover is designed so that any opening therein or fastening means thereof do not interfere with the supportive features of the multi-use support pillow nor the comfort of the user.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a non-bulky, easy-to-use support pillow for all identified resting positions. During use, the multi-use support pillow provides support for almost every area of the body thereby helping the user rest more evenly on the support surface, help align or maintain proper body alignment while resting on the side, stomach, or back, and help distribute weight more evenly throughout the body. During use an individual may rest comfortably while maintaining a correct symmetrical bodily alignment position in the chosen resting position using one or more support pillows to support one or more individual body parts or combinations of body parts. Furthermore, the multi-use support pillow provides ease in adjustability within the resting context and in body positioning.

Particularly, for an individual resting on his or her stomach the head may be supported by one of the side edges allowing for a clear, unobstructed nasal passageway. The lower leg may be supported so that less tossing and turning, discomfort, or pain resulting from the initial point of discomfort on the top of the delicate toes and foot while resting on the stomach. Specifically, positioning the support pillow under the shin, ankle, and foot redistributes the main pressure on the top of the delicate toes and feet more evenly across the lower leg, while resting on the stomach to maintain symmetrical alignment of the trunk and lower-body.

Also, for an individual resting on his or her side, between-the-legs placement achieves full lower leg support for lateral bodily alignment. Furthermore, for an individual resting on his or her back under-the-thigh elevation will cause the hips to pivot upward and to drop the lower-back downward for more even weight distribution and support on the flat resting surface, thus reducing stress on the lower-back area.

More particularly, it is contemplated that the multi-use support pillow may have, although not limited to, the following uses. First, it can be used while resting on one's stomach under the shin, ankle, and foot to support and distribute the weight on the delicate toes and top of the foot more evenly across the lower leg to eliminate discomfort in the hips and back areas. Secondly, it can be used as a head, neck, or shoulder support pillow for straightening or supporting the cervical alignment while resting on the side, back, or stomach. Thirdly, it can be used in conjunction with a conventional pillow to raise the head in a more comfortable position for reading, watching TV, or any other activity whereby the person would like the head to be elevated and tilted forward for viewing. Fourthly, it can be used as a torso pillow while lying on the side or stomach to help support and distribute the weight on this area of the body more evenly, thereby reducing stress on certain areas of the torso, lower-back, or hips. Fifthly, it can be used as a “hug pillow” by persons who like to have something up against the front part of the body while lying down. Sixthly, it can be used to elevate the thigh region while lying on one's back to allow the hip area near the lumbar region to pivot downwardly while the hip area near the the thigh region pivots upwardly with respect to the body, which allows the lower lumbar area to shift down toward the resting surface for more even distribution of body weight, thus helping alleviate potential stress in the lower-back. Seventhly, it can be used while a person is resting on the side by positioning the support pillow between the legs to shift the hips into a more evenly aligned body position, all the way from the hips down to the ankles, which alleviates potential strain on the knees, hips, and lower-back, and allows users of various sizes to select level of comfort through the support pillow's positioning.

As described herein, the invention provides a number of therapeutic advantages and uses. Embodiments of the present invention are better described below with reference to the Figures, however, such description or reference is not meant to limit the present invention in any fashion. The embodiments and variations described in detail herein are to be interpreted by the appended claims and equivalents thereof.

Reference Numerals Used in the Figures

20—Lower curved end

22—Inclined support surface

24—Side edge

25—Support pillow

26—Higher curved end

28—Higher curved end height

30—Support width

32—Support length

34—Lower curved end height

As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, in FIGS. 1-10, the invention is generally embodied in a support pillow 25 made of foam.

FIG. 1 shows the support pillow 25 as a single piece unit with an inclined support surface 22, spanning a support width 30 between two surface ends having an inner concave shape, a higher curved end 26 and a lower curved end 20 of differing heights, a higher curved end height 28 and a lower curved end height 34, respectively. At each end of the support pillow 25 along a support length 32, there is a side edge 24. In this embodiment the support length 32 is about 25 inches, the support width 30 is about 13.5 inches, the higher curved end height 28 is about 3.5 inches, the lower curved end height 34 is about 0.5 inch, and side edge 24 is angled 90 degrees.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, FIGS. 2A-2B and 7-10 depict uses of the support pillow 25 for each different resting position. In general, as shown in FIGS. 1-10 for all uses, the higher curved end 26 and the lower curved end 20 are each symmetrical, which allows for the support pillow 25 to be used on either lateral side. Thus, the support pillow 25 can be rotated or “flipped” over laterally and used on either side with equal functionality on both sides.

Specifically, FIGS. 2A-2B and FIGS. 7-10 illustrate a user of support pillow 25 as either resting on the user's side, back, stomach or differing degrees of resting positions between them for the corresponding areas of body coverage. More specifically, when opting to rest on one's stomach, there are numerous potential uses for the support pillow 25, as illustrated herein.

FIG. 2A illustrates the normal inability of most persons to fully straighten the foot in respect to the shin, which would allow him or her to rest the lower leg more evenly across the resting surface. This inability leads to potential discomfort in the toes, feet, or ankles.

In contrast to FIG. 2A, FIG. 2B provides a novel approach in creating a more comfortable and appropriate bodily position for those who wish to rest on the stomach is illustrated. Even though many persons have described this resting position as irreconcilably troublesome, identifying the main point of initial discomfort, which sets in motion the process of tossing and turning leading to potential bodily aches and pains, is the key first step to understanding this unmet need.

FIG. 2B illustrates the proper positioning for the support pillow 25 to eliminate initial discomfort and thereby the resulting unwanted effects. The lower curved end 20 curvature and the lower curved end height 34 allow for a non-intrusive, comfortable contact point providing a transition of weight of the lower leg onto the inclined support surface 22. The weight from the lower legs is distributed more evenly across the inclined support surface 22 throughout the support width 30 with an inclination in respect to the resting surface due to the difference in the lower curved end height 34, the higher curved end height 28, and the support width 30. The higher curved end height 28 and the higher curved end 26 provide an elevated curvature that contours to the ankles without restricting the ankles' range of motion, thus providing support and maneuverability for the user's lower leg. This resolves the discomfort on the delicate foot and toes, thereby allowing the individual to maintain a symmetrical trunk-to-lower body alignment with an even distribution of weight on the body.

FIG. 3 illustrates another use of the support pillow 25 for the torso region while opting to rest on the stomach-to-side. The lower curved end 20 curvature and lower curved height 34 meet the user's body in a non-intrusive, comfortable manner allowing the torso area to rest on the inclined support surface 22 to whatever degree of coverage chosen, e.g., between slight use to full torso support. As the leg moves out and away from the body, the hip on the same side as the projecting leg is elevated, creating a stressful pull on the back or hip areas, which then are not properly supported. Inserting the support pillow under the torso, especially the lower torso, area helps reduce the stress in these areas. Due to the difference in the higher curved end height 28 and the lower curved end height 34 along the support width 30, there exists an inclination of the inclined support surface 22 of the support pillow 25, which can be used for a variety of elevations, whereby the user chooses how much support height he or she would like. The support width 30 and support length 32 provide the user with versatility and maneuverability with part or whole torso, back, and hip support and comfort. Moving the support pillow down or the body upward can provide support for the extending leg in part or in toto depending on the user's desire.

FIG. 4 illustrates another use of the support pillow 25 while resting on one's stomach. The curvature of lower curved end 20 and lower curved height 34 meet the user's body in a non-intrusive, comfortable manner allowing the head to rest on the inclined support surface 22 and side edge 24. The user can move along the support width 30 on the inclined support surface 22 and the side edge 24 for varied chosen elevated support of the head or chest due to the inclination derived from the difference in the lower curved end height 34, the higher curved end height 28, and the support width 30. This allows the user great versatility and maneuverability while using the support pillow 25 in this manner. This particular use allows the user to maintain greater symmetrical upper body head, neck, and upper back alignment, thus reducing strain on the upper shoulder and neck regions. The user can also maintain a variety of differing angles for supporting the head on the side edge 24. The 90-degree angle of the side edge 24 allows the user to overhang the nose, which supports the head and stimulates the nasal passage, which helps open the nasal passage airway for clearer and more open breathing.

FIG. 5 illustrates another use of the support pillow 25 while resting on one's stomach. The lower curved end 20 and lower curved height 34 meet the user's body in a non-intrusive, comfortable manner allowing the head to rest on the inclined support surface 22. The user can move along the support width 30 and inclined support surface 22 for varied chosen elevated support for the chest, neck, or head, due to the inclination derived from the difference in the lower curved end height 34, the higher curved end height 28, and the support width 30. This allows the user great versatility and maneuverability while using the support pillow 25 in this manner. More specifically, when opting to rest on one's side, there are numerous uses for the support pillow 25, as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

FIG. 6 illustrates one use of the support pillow 25 that provides a contoured support surface for the head and neck while resting on one's side. The higher curved end height 28 and the higher curved end 26 provide an elevated support surface and contour, respectively, to comfortably support the neck while the head rests on the inclined support surface 22, which has an actual declination in respect to the higher curved end height 28 down toward the lower curved end height 34. The support pillow 25 provides a contoured support that allows an even distribution of weight of the head and neck, as well as helping maintain head, neck, and spinal alignment.

FIG. 7 illustrates the support pillow 25 used for body alignment for the side resting position. Placed between the legs along the support length 32, the support pillow 25 helps maintain a lateral alignment of the legs, hips, and lower back of the body, thereby reducing potential stress on these areas. The varying height of the flat-raised support surface 22 throughout the support width 30, due to the differences of the lower curved end height 34 and the higher curved end height 28, allows users of varying sizes to choose the elevation of the entire leg region by simply sliding the support pillow 25 toward the body, i.e., increasing the elevation, or away from the body, i.e., decreasing the elevation, with respect to the front of the legs or body. The lower curved end 20 allows the user a non-intrusive, comfortable contact or insertion point between the legs. More specifically, when opting to rest on one's back, there are additional uses for the support pillow, as illustrated in FIGS. 8B-10.

FIG. 8A is a side view of a person resting on the back with the lower spinal curvature's inability to lay evenly on the resting surface; thereby resulting in potential lower-back discomfort due to lack of support of said area. FIG. 8B illustrates the behind-the-thigh use of the support pillow 25, which allows the body, in particular the lower-back region, to align more evenly on the resting surface, thereby alleviating some of the stress caused by the weight of the body suspended above the resting surface, which lacks support. The support pillow 25 comfortably meets the buttocks or back of the upper thigh because of the design of the lower-curved end 20 and the lower curved end height 34. The support pillow provides the inclination of the inclined support surface 22 between the lower curved end 20 and higher curved end 26 through the difference between the higher curved end height 28 and the lower curved end height 34, along with the support width 30. The backs of the thighs rest on the inclined support surface 22 up to the higher curved end 26. The higher curved end 26 and the higher curved end height 28 provide a curvature to help contour and support, respectively, the back of the knee, which will be allowed to fall back comfortably and naturally to the resting surface. The resultant elevation of the thighs on the support pillow 25 pivots the buttock and hips downward in respect to the body, which causes the lower-back region to move down and align more evenly with the resting surface; thus helping to alleviate potential lower-back discomfort due to the natural curvature of the lower spine for more even weight distribution on the resting surface.

FIG. 9 illustrates another use of the support pillow 25 for neck and head support while resting on the back. The higher curved end height 28 provides support to the neck's natural elevation and the higher curved end 26 provides a curvature appropriate for contoured support of the neck and head. The differences between the higher curved end height 28 and the lower curved end height 34 along the support width 30 creates a declination, in respect to the head and neck regions, appropriate for the contour of the back of the head and neck along and on top of the inclined support surface 22.

FIG. 10 illustrates another use of the support pillow 25 for the head, neck, or shoulders while resting on the back. The support pillow 25 meets the shoulders or neck at the lower-curved end 20, which allows a non-intrusive, comfortable meeting point because of the curvature shape of the lower-curved end 20 and the lower curved end height 34. Due to the differences of the lower curved end height 34 and the higher curved end height 28, the user is now allowed to rest more evenly on the support pillow 25, creating an even distribution of weight of the head, neck or shoulders on the inclined surface 22.

FIG. 11 is an alternative embodiment of the support pillow 25 having a modification of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1. The curvature of the higher curved end 26 and the lower curved end 20 have a semi-arched curvature over an upper portion of the higher curved end height 28 and have a semi-arched curvature over an upper portion of the lower curved end height 28. This embodiment can be varied in support width 30, support length 32, higher curved end height 28, and lower curved end height 34, thus creating different angles of the inclined support surface 22. The side edge 24 remains the same for all intended purposes. This alternative embodiment is the same in terms of the overall functional intent as the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1-10, except the support pillow has only one inclined support surface 22, effectively removing the ability to rotate or to flip the support pillow 25. This potentially allows the invention to be manufactured at a lower cost, which will equal lower end-user cost.

FIG. 12 is another alternative embodiment of the support pillow 25 having a different modification of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1. The side edge now has a curved edge instead of a 90-degree angle. The inclined support surface 22, spanning a support width 30 between two concave shaped surface ends, a higher curved end 26 and a lower curved end 20 of differing heights, a higher curved end height 28 and a lower curved end height 34, respectively, and the location of a side edge 24 at each end of the support pillow 25 along a support length 32 remain the same for all intended purposes. Functionality of this alternative embodiment is the same as the preferred embodiment (FIGS. 1-10), except the support pillow 25 has a side edge 24 with a slight curvature used for the facedown position, as seen in FIG. 9. This allows the user to turn the head to differing degrees more easily and comfortably.

While the present invention has been described in connection with what are presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is not limited to the disclosed embodiments alone, but to the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit of the invention, which is set forth in the appended claims and which scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures.