Title:
Human motor control device and methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Devices and methods of use for providing somatosensory stimulation are disclosed, and are useful for increasing motor control of wearers having certain dysfunctions, e.g., autism. One embodiment of the present invention includes a pliable pressure member adapted to receive a digit. The pressure member has at least one flap extending therefrom, the flap adapted to conform the pressure member to a base of the digit and to secure the pressure member to the digit. The flap can be tensioned and coupled to a cuff worn by a wearer, thus providing a continuous pressure to the base of the digit and/or intermetacarpal areas therebetween. The device can be effective to alter motor control by providing increased sensory input to the joint, nerves or tendons in proximity to the pliable pressure member for treatment of motor control dysfunction.



Inventors:
Moore, John (Old Bridge, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/174157
Publication Date:
01/12/2006
Filing Date:
07/01/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BROWN, MICHAEL A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIELSON LAW OFFICE (QUINCY, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A human motor control device for assisting a wearer's motor control comprising: a pressure member adapted to receive a wearer's extremity and conform in shape to the extremity; and a flap having a proximal end coupled to the pressure member and a distal end having a fastener, the flap adapted to transmit a tension on the pressure member; whereby the device provides a pressure on the wearer's extremity increasing somatosensory awareness for assisting the wearer with motor control.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the extremity is any of a digit, wrist, forearm, ankle and lower leg.

3. The device of claim 1, further comprising: a cuff adapted to be releasable secured around a portion of the wearer and apply a pressure thereto, and adapted to releasable couple to the fastener of the flap.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein the cuff further comprises: a flap having a proximal end coupled to the cuff, and a distal end having a fastener, the flap of the cuff adapted to releasable secure the cuff to the wearer.

5. The device of claim 3, wherein the cuff is constructed of a pliable material.

6. The device of claim 5, wherein the material is elastomeric.

7. The device of claim 3, wherein the cuff further comprises: an outer surface adapted to releasably receive the fastener of the flap and constructed of a pliable material; and an inner surface adapted to be disposed on a the wearer's skin and constructed of a pliable material.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein the flap is comprised of a pliable foam material.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein the material is substantially elastomeric.

10. The device of claim 1, wherein the fastener of the flap further comprises hook and loop fabric on a portion of at least one surface.

11. The device of claim 1, wherein the pressure member comprises a substantially circular ring having an open center.

12. The device of claim 1, wherein the pressure member is substantially constructed of a polymeric material.

13. The device of claim 1, wherein the pressure member comprises: a substantially elongated structure adapted to wrap around the wearer's extremity, the structure pliable to conform with the extremity; and a fastener disposed on at least one end of the structure, and adapted to secure the structure to the wearer's extremity.

14. The device of claim 1, wherein the pressure member is adapted to apply a pressure to the base of a wearer's digit.

15. The device of claim 1, wherein the pressure member is adapted to apply pressure to an intermetacarpal area between digits.

16. A system for altering somatosensory input comprising: a pliable first cuff adapted to be positioned around a portion of a wearer and to provide a pressure thereon; and a human motor control device for applying a pressure to at least one of wearer's digits, the control device releasably couples to the first cuff and provides a pressure to the digit; whereby the pressure provided by the first cuff and the control device increase the wearer's somatosensory input thereby assisting in motor control.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein the control device comprises: a pliable pressure member adapted to receive the digit of the wearer and conform to a portion thereof; and at least one flap extending from the pressure member and adapted to releasably couple to the first cuff.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein the control device is adapted to provide pressure to a base of the wearer's digit.

19. The system of claim 17, wherein the control device is adapted to provide pressure to an intermetacarpal area in proximity to the wearer's digit.

20. The system of claim 16, further comprising a further pliable cuff adapted to be positioned around a further portion of the limb and provide a pressure thereon.

21. The system of claim 20, wherein the further cuff is adapted to be coupled to the first cuff.

22. A method for assisting human motor control comprising: applying a cuff to an extremity of a wearer; disposing a pliable pressure member in proximity to any of a joint, nerve and tendon of the wearer; tensioning a flap coupled to the pliable pressure member to create a pressure between the pliable pressure member and the wearer's joint, nerve or tendon; and releasably coupling a distal end of the flap to the cuff to provide a pressure on the pliable pressure member.

23. The method of claim 22, further comprising wrapping the cuff around the extremity of the wearer and securing the wrap thereto.

24. The method of claim 23, further comprising applying tension to a flap attached to the cuff, and releasably securing a distal end of the flap to a portion of the cuff so as to secure the cuff to the wearer.

25. The method of claim 22, further comprising sliding the pliable pressure member over a digit of the wearer and disposing the pressure member in proximity to the base of the digit.

26. The method of claim 22, further comprising wrapping the pliable pressure member around a digit of the wearer in proximity to the base of the digit.

27. The method of claim 26, further comprising adjusting the pliable pressure member to provide a pressure to the base of the digit.

28. The method of claim 22, further comprising applying a further cuff to the wearer in proximity to the cuff.

Description:

This Application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/585,991, entitled “Human Motor Control Device and Methods,” by John Moore, filed Jul. 7, 2004, and is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to methods and devices for providing somatosensory stimulation, and in particular, for treating motor control dysfunction by providing increased sensory input to wearers of the devices for altering motor control.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Human motor control dysfunctions include neurological disorder such as autism and autism spectrum disorders, and neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy. Both neurological and neuromuscular disorders can be defined, generally, as deficits in the brain's ability to process sensory information from, for example, proprioceptive, tactile and vestibular inputs. Various conditions can cause these disorders including pre-mature birth, neo-natal trauma, neuralgic insult (e.g., stroke), and/or genetics. They can affect movement of limbs and extremities, and can cause difficulty or inability to control limb positioning whether at rest or in active motion.

Proprioceptive input relates to a correlation of unconscious sensations from the skin and joints that allows conscious appreciation of the position of the body. A proprioceptive input disorder causes a person to improperly perceive or process information through the muscles, connecting tissue, skin, and joints. Clumsiness, difficult in sitting or standing without support, and lack of confidence are common symptoms.

The tactile sense interprets applied stimuli such as touch, pressure, pain, and temperature through tactile receptors found throughout skin. Tactile deficit disorders can cause the brain to erroneously decrease tactile sense causing a person to be overly rowdy, physical or clingy. Conversely, if the brain erroneously increases tactile sense, the person may show tendencies of tactile defensiveness. Tactile sense disorders can affect learning, body awareness, and space/time positioning, as well as visual perception, motor planning, and social participation.

The vestibular system provides space/time positioning information, e.g., up/down directions, balance and coordination. Vestibular system disorder can affect muscle coordination for balancing, motor planning, vision and/or emotional security.

Thus, human motor control dysfunctions can affect daily living in such areas of maintaining body balance, processing tasks involving muscle control, and one's social ability and overall outlook. In particular, one human motor control disorder, Autism spectrum disorder, is a form of neurological disorder and can range from autism to a form known as Asperger's syndrome.

People afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder are often afflicted with multiple stereotypical behaviors. For example, a person may present with constant hand flapping that does not allow or afford the opportunity to perform everyday functions, e.g., sitting, pointing, eating, catching and throwing a ball. With an autism spectrum disorder, the brain appears to be unable to process and organize the senses appropriately.

Children afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder may be oblivious to extreme cold or pain. A child with an autism spectrum disorder may fall and break an arm, yet never cry. Another may strike his head against a wall and not wince, but conversely, a light touch may make the child scream with alarm.

Sensory integration theory postulates that intervention through therapy can commonly provide enhanced sensory experience within the context of a meaningful, self-directed activity in order to elicit an adaptive behavior. The result is enhanced sensory integration and, in turn, enhanced learning and awareness of body position.

In response, a variety of therapeutic intervention techniques have been employed for people with autism spectrum disorders. Physical and occupational therapists provide patients with various types of stimulation including tactile (touch/deep pressure), proprioceptive (spatial/body awareness at rest), kinesthetic (spatial/body awareness in motion), and vestibular (spatial/body awareness in space).

One method of proprioceptive and tactile stimulation is repetitive deep pressure or deep touch pressure using weighted garments. For example, weighted gloves, vests, collars, and weighted quilts are available for creating deep pressure to wearers. Although the wearing of weighted garments is increasing in such treatment programs, the outcomes are largely anecdotal and few parameters exist to guide the use of such techniques. Furthermore, weighted garments are generally sized creating an expense and specialized fitting to properly apply the correct amount of pressure to the selected regions.

But perhaps foremost, weighted garments do not provide targeted therapy inputs for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders and other neurological and/or neuromuscular disorders.

Thus, there remains a need for improved methods and devices for providing desirable somatosensory inputs for the treatment of motor control dysfunction, including those afflicted with autism spectrum disorders.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Those needs and others are obtained by the present invention by a human motor control device having a pressure attachment that can provide a pressure on a wearer's digit, joint, ligament and/or tendon. The digit can be a finger, thumb or toe. The pressure attachment has a pliable pressure member that can receive a wearer's digit, and has flap that has a proximal end coupled to the pressure member, and a distal end having a fastener. The pressure member is disposed around the base of the wearer's digit and can provide a pressure thereon. The pressure creates an increased and organized somatosensory input assisting the wearer in motor control.

A human motor control device can have a pressure attachment and a cuff that can be wrapped around a limb of the wearer. The limb can be a hand, forearm, foot, or ankle area. The pressure attachment is disposed on a digit, and the flap is tensioned and its distal end is fastened to the cuff. A plurality of pressure attachments can be applied to the wearer, each disposed around or near the same or different digits. The cuff and pressure attachment create a pressure on the wearer, and somatosensory input is increased and organized.

A further cuff or cuffs can be disposed on the wearer's limb in proximity or adjacent to the first cuff, and can be coupled thereto. And thus, multiple cuffs can increase the area of the wearer to which pressure is applied creating a further increase and organization of somatosensory input.

The cuff or cuffs can be disposed around the limb of a wearer and secured thereon using releasable means, e.g., flaps coupled to the cuff. The pressure attachment has a pliable pressure member that is disposed on or around a selected region of the wearer such as the wearer's digit, wrist or forearm. A flap coupled to the pliable pressure member can be tensioned and releasably coupled to the cuff. The tension is transmitted to the pliable pressure member creating a pressure between the pliable pressure member and the wearer.

The pressure member can have an open center portion for receiving the digit of the wearer, and can be slid over the digit and disposed at or near the base of the digit. In one embodiment, the pressure member can be wrapped around the digit and fastened thereto via fasteners and/or flaps. In another embodiment, the pressure member can be pre-formed of a flexible material and can slide over the digit providing a stretch fit.

A pressure attachment can provide pressure to intermetacarpal regions of the wearer. A pliable pressure member can have a plurality of open center portions, each adapted to slide over a digit and be disposed at or near the base of its respective digit. Pressure is applied to the pressure attachment via one or more flaps tensioned and coupled to a cuff, creating a pressure between the pressure member and the intermetacarpal region(s). The cuff, pressure member and flap can be combined into a unibody design, or can be separate elements. In any case or combination of the cuff, pressure member and flap, an increase and organization of somatosensory input is created assisting the wearer in motor control.

Methods and devices are disclosed for providing somatosensory input to hands, wrists and/or forearm that can alter a wearer's motor control. The invention can be particularly useful for treating motor control dysfunctions such as autism spectrum disorders.

In use, the device applies pressure on the wearer's skin, thereby activating receptors in the nerves, joints and/or tendons which can cause sensory information including location information to be sent to the brain via the thalamus and spinal cord resulting in increased sensory awareness of the user.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a human motor control device having a pliable pressure member adapted to surround a digit and at least one flap extending therefrom and adapted to secure the pressure member to a base of the digit wherein the device is effective to provide somatosensory input for assisting the motor control of the wearer.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a system for altering somatosensory input including a first cuff member adapted to be positioned around a first portion of a limb and to provide continuous pressure thereon, and a pliable pressure member adapted for applying continuous pressure to the base of a digit. When positioned on a wearer, the elements are connected to one another such that the continuous application of pressure to a wearer provides increased and organized somatosensory input to the wearer.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a method for somatosensory stimulation including a means for providing pressure without causing a loss of circulation wherein the pressure causes sensory input to nerves in the hand, wrist or forearm such that the sensory input alters motor control of the hand, wrists or forearm.

Therefore, various embodiments of the present invention address current problems associated with conventional treatment methods of persons afflicted with neurological and neuromuscular disorders by providing targeted and increased pressure to afflicted areas causing location information to be sent to the brain for altering motor control in the hand, fingers, wrist, and/or forearm.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention can be more fully understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1A is an embodiment of a human motor control device having a cuff disposed around a wearer's hand and a pressure attachment disposed around the wearer's thumb;

FIG. 1B is a top view of the pressure attachment of FIG. 1A having flaps extending from a pliable pressure member and adapted to couple to the cuff;

FIG. 1C is a perspective view of the pressure attachment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIG. 2A is an embodiment of a pressure attachment suitable for use with a cuff, and has two flaps each having distal ends adapted to coupled to the cuff;

FIG. 2B is another embodiment of a pressure attachment suitable for use with a cuff and has two flaps each having distal end extrusions adapted to couple to the cuff;

FIG. 3A is a further embodiment of an variable sized pressure attachment having a pliable pressure member coupled to a flap;

FIG. 3B is another embodiment of a pressure attachment having a pliable pressure member coupled to two flaps;

FIG. 4A shows an embodiment of a human motor control device of unibody construction having a intermetacarpal pressure attachment adapted to apply a pressure to one or more intermetacarpal regions of a wearer;

FIG. 4B shows the pressure attachment of FIG. 4A disposed on a wearer;

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of a human motor control device having a cuff disposed around a wearer's hand and a combination of pressure attachments; and

FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of a human motor control device having first and second cuffs, the first cuff having a combination of pressure attachments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to devices and methods for treating human motor control dysfunction that can apply controlled and sustained pressure to a wearer's extremities. The invention is particularly useful for treatment of human motor control dysfunctions such as those related to autism spectrum disorders, and is also useful for dysfunctions associated with other disorders. The devices can apply pressure on the wearer's skin, joints, ligaments and or tendons, activating receptors therein causing sensory information input to the wearer such as location information. Those inputs are processed by the wearer's brain via the thalamus and spinal cord. That results in increased and more organized sensory awareness by the user.

In general, the motor control devices have a cuff that is wrapped or otherwise secured around a wearer's limb, such as a hand, forearm, foot or ankle area, and herein, the term “limb” or “extremity” refers to any of the above. A pressure attachment has a pliable pressure member that can be disposed in proximity to a selected portion a of the wearer's skin, joint, ligament or tendon, such as around the base of a finger or thumb. Herein, the term “digit” refers to fingers, thumbs and toes. The term “extremity” refers to hands, forearms, ankles and lower legs. A flap coupled to the pliable pressure member is tensioned, causing the pressure member to conform to the wearer creating a pressure on the wearer's selected extremity. The flap can be attached to the cuff providing a continuous pressure to the wearer via the pliable pressure member. Thus, a constant pressure is applied to the wearer resulting in an increase in somatosensory information.

FIG. 1A shows an embodiment of a human motor control device 100 applied to a wearer's hand having a cuff member 102 and a pressure attachment 104. Cuff member 102 is disposed over, or wrapped around, the wearer's hand providing a foundation for applying pressure attachment 104. Pressure attachment 104 has a pliable pressure member 106 disposed around a thumb of the wearer, preferably in proximity to the base of that thumb. A first flap 108 has a proximal end 110 coupled to the pliable pressure member 106, and a distal end 112 having a fastener 112 adapted to releasably couple to cuff 102. A second flap 120 (FIG. 1B), similar to the first flap 108, is also coupled at a proximal end 122 to the pliable pressure member 106, and has a distal end 124 adapted to releasably attach to cuff 102 via a fastener 128. Tension can be applied to flaps 108 120 causing a generally constant pressure between the pliable pressure member 106 and the wearer resulting in increased somatosensory information available to the wearer.

Although cuff member 102 can be a variety of shapes and sizes, it is preferably adapted to be secured to part or all of a wearer's hand, forearm or other extremity. As shown, the cuff member 102 is a wrap that can be applied to the wearer's hand and secured using various forms of fasteners (not shown). In other embodiments, cuff member 102 can be fashioned of a glove design. Other configurations of cuff member 102 are envisioned that provide ease of application to a wearer, and can be secured thereon. Fasteners suitable for the cuff member 102 include such means as hook and loop, zipper(s), buttons and the like.

Cuff member 102 can have separate or integrally separated cuff sections provided thereon in order to adjust and secure the cuff member 102 in position on the wearer. Cuff member 102 can also provide a pressure to the wearer's skin, working in conjunction with, or separately from, pressure attachment 104 to provide increased somatosensory information to the wearer. A wide variety of shapes and sizes are possible allowing a cuff member to be applied to a hand as illustrated, as well a forearm, leg, ankle and other regions of a wearer.

Preferably, cuff member 102 is pliable and flexible. It can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as elastomeric polymer or elastomeric fabrics, or materials having properties thereof. Cuff member 102 can include a combination of materials such as an outer side or portion having a LYCRA® type material, and an inner side or portion having a compliant foam type material. Such combination of materials allows the cuff member 102 to be compliant in order to adjust and secure to the wearer and providing increased pressure thereto, yet also soft and tactilely functional against a wearer's skin. Another example of a type of material which can be used for the cuff member 102 is NuStim Wrap® manufactured by Fabrifoam Corporation of Exton, Pa., or modifications thereof.

FIG. 1B shows the pressure attachment 104 illustrated in FIG. 1A. As described above, pressure attachment 104 has two flaps 108 120 and a pliable pressure attachment 106. Each of the two flaps 108 120 has a proximal end 110 122, respectively, coupled to the pliable pressure member 106, and each flap has a distal end 112 124, each having a fastener 114 128 adapted to releasably couple or attach to the cuff member 102.

Pliable pressure member 106 illustrated is sized and shaped to be disposed around the base of a wearer's thumb, and has an open center portion 130 sized to allow it to be disposed over and around that thumb. For that purpose, open center portion 130 has an inner dimension id sufficiently large to allow for positioning over the wearer's digit and can be positioned near the base of that digit to apply pressure to the joints and/or nerves there around. Accordingly, open center portion 130 has an inner dimension id between approximately 0.2 and 1.0 inch, preferably between approximately 0.3 and 0.75 inch, and more preferably approximately 0.5 inch. In other embodiments, open center portion 130 can be sized and shaped to be disposed on or near a selected joint, digit, nerve, tendon or combination thereof, of a selected digit, thumb or other extremity, and can be larger or smaller than shown in the illustrated embodiment.

Open center portion 130 can have a variety of shapes but is preferably substantially circular in shape and adapted to fit over a wearer's digit such that it can apply continuous pressure to a wearer. In one embodiment, the open center portion 130 of the pressure attachment 104 can be shaped such that it deforms, either temporarily or permanently, into a different pre-determined or non pre-determined shape. For example, an oval shaped open center portion can deform into a circular shape when positioned over the base of a wearer's digit and pulled into position by the flaps 108 120.

Outer dimension od of the pliable pressure member 106 is sized to allow the pliable pressure member 106 to be disposed between digits of the wearer without causing discomfort or adversely restricting circulation. In one embodiment, pliable pressure member 106 can apply pressure to both the joints and nerves at the base of the digit, and also to the intermetacarpal region between digits. In the illustrated embodiment, outer dimension od is between approximately 0.5 to 1.5 inches, preferably between approximately 0.7 to 1.0 inches, and more preferably approximately 0.75 inch. In other embodiments, outer dimension od can be sized smaller or later depending on the size of the region of the wearer whereon the pressure member 106 will be applied.

As already noted, pliable pressure member 106 is preferably sufficiently pliable to be comfortable while providing a continuous pressure. Numerous materials are suitable for its construction including those consisting of elastomeric polymers, preferably those hypoallergenic properties and easily sterilized or cleaned. In one embodiment, the pliable pressure member can have a soft covering or coating to provide increased comfort.

Flaps 108 120 are generally elongate in shape, each one having a proximal end 110 122 coupled to the pliable pressure member 106, and each a distal end 112 124 having fasteners 114 128 for attachment to the cuff member 102. Flaps 108 120 are illustrated as extending from the pliable pressure member 106 in opposing directions. Thereby, flaps 108 120 can be tensioned by pulling in opposing directions away from the pliable pressure member 106 to position and hold it in place around the base of a digit and to secure it in position around the digit. Other configurations are possible including one where the flaps can be positioned on a single side or portion of the pliable pressure member. In other embodiments, there can be one flap coupled to a pliable pressure member, or multiple flaps connected thereto in other embodiments.

Flaps 108 120 can be secured to the pliable pressure member 106 using a variety of attachment methods such as gluing, sewing, riveting, integrally molding or attaching, or other methods of attachment known to those skilled in the art. Flaps 108 120 can warped around a portion of the pliable pressure member 106 through the open center portion 130, and each attached to itself by adhesive or other means. Attachment of the flaps 108 120 to the pressure member 106 can be provided such that each flap is free to slide on the pressure member 106 for alternate positioning and adjusting thereof. As illustrated, flaps 108 120 are fixedly secured to the pressure member 106 to provide an opposing force when the pressure member 106 is disposed on the wearer's digit and the flaps tensioned.

Flaps 108 120 can have a variety of shapes and sizes but preferably extend from the pliable pressure member 106 such that they can induce the pliable pressure member 106 to provide increased pressure to joints, digits, nerves or tendons of a wearer's digit. Flaps 108 120 can be made of a variety of materials such that they may or may not be adapted to stretch, but preferably allow for the positioning of the pressure member 106 to the base of a wearer's digit and provide tension as described above. Thus, flaps 108 120 can be made from a polymer material molded into a variety of shapes. Non-flexible flaps 108 120 can also be integrally attached to the pliable pressure member 106 or can have a fastening means known to those skilled in the art to facilitate attachment of the flaps 108 120 to the pliable pressure member 106.

Flaps 108 120 are adjusted by tensioning or otherwise pulling them in a direction away from the pliable pressure member 106 generally toward the wearer's wrist, for example, and attaching the fasteners 114 128, respectively, to cuff 102. A resulting increase in pressure between the pliable pressure member 106 and the wearer creates an increase in somatosensory information.

FIG. 1C is a perspective view of pressure attachment 104. Proximal ends 110 122 of flaps 108 120 are coupled to the pliable pressure member 106 through the open center portion 130. As illustrated, pliable pressure member 106 has a thickness that can be selected according to an intended application. For example, a thicker pliable pressure member 106 is suitable for application involving a thumb, as opposed to a thinner pressure member that is suitable for smaller digits. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that more pressure should be applied to thicker pressure members, and conversely, less pressure for less thick pressure members is required.

FIG. 2A shows a different embodiment of a pressure attachment 200 suitable for use with a cuff 102. Pressure attachment 200 has flaps 208 220, each having a distal end 212 224 that has fastening means that are integral to a respective flap 208 200. Fastening means can be hook and loop, glue or adhesive, snaps or other fastening means that can secure distal ends 212 224 to a cuff. This illustrated embodiment provides a larger area for the fastening means and thus, can apply a stronger pressure or force to pliable pressure member than flaps having less area for fastening means. Of course, a force that can be transmitted to the pressure member is also a function of the size of the pressure member, as well as the type of fastening means used at the distal ends of the flaps.

FIG. 2B shows another embodiment of a pressure attachment 260 generally as described above, albeit with flaps 262 264 having distal end protrusion fasteners 266 268. Distal end protrusion fasteners 266 268 can have a variety of shapes and sizes, but preferably are shaped such that they can facilitate the position of pliable pressure member to the base of a wearer's digit. Furthermore, distal end protrusion fasteners 266 268 of flaps 262 264 can be fashioned from a fastening means such as hook and loop material, glue or adhesive, snaps or other fastening means, as stated above. Thus, flaps 262 264 and extrusions 266 268 can be manufactured from the same material with fastening means provided thereafter.

FIGS. 3A and 3B show embodiments of pressure attachments 300 360, respectively, that can be used with a cuff 102, and can surround a region of a wearer's digit or forearm, for example, to provide pressure around that region. Pressure attachment 300 (FIG. 3A) has pliable pressure member 302 that is adjustable in size and can be wrapped around a desired digit or other portion of the wearer. Fastener 306 can secure the pliable pressure member 306 in a desired location. Flap 304 has a proximal end attached to the pliable pressure member 306, and a distal end having a fastener adapted to couple to a cuff, e.g., 102. Thus, pressure attachment 300 can be used for a variety of different wearer's having differing sizes of digits and/or forearms. Pliable pressure member 302 and flap 304 can be a unibody construction, or can be manufactured of differing materials joined together along a seam or other junctions. In general, pliable pressure member 302 is constructed from a material that can transfer a tension to a region of a wearer's digit, such as Lycra, NuStim Wrap (as noted above) or neoprene and the like as long has it has an elastic-like property. Pliable pressure member 302 can be constructed of a plurality of materials, e.g., a foam inner surface and an elastomeric outer surface. Advantageously, pressure attachment 300 can be used for a variety of applications since by its nature it has an adjustable center open portion when wrapped around a digit. Further, pressure attachment 300 can be used to apply pressure to other parts of the body due to its open design, such as forearm, legs, upper arms and other limbs.

FIG. 3B shows a pressure attachment 360 having two flaps 364 366 that can be integral or otherwise attached to a pliable pressure member 362. Pliable pressure member 362 has a fixed-sized open center portion 370. Flaps 364 366 each have a proximal end coupled to the pliable pressure member 362, and each has a distal end with a fastener thereon or therein suitable or adapted to couple to a cuff.

In one embodiment, flaps, e.g., 346 366, can be removably coupled to pliable pressure member, e.g., 362, providing replacement with flaps of differing dimensions or fastening means. Thus, longer or shorter flaps may be used rather than having fixed length ones as illustrated. In the event that flaps 364 366 are removably coupled to pliable pressure member 362, they can attach thereto in a variety of ways such as hook and loop, gluing, sewing or other attachment means known to those skilled in the art.

In the illustrated embodiment, pliable pressure member 362 is a continuous portion of material such that it slips over a digit or hand, and is further secured to the base of the digit or forearm via fasteners on or integral to flaps 364 366 to provide a constant and increased pressure to the joints where contact is made therewith. The continuous portion of material can be a variety of shapes and sizes, but preferably, it is substantially circular and sized to slide over a digit or hand (with stretching) of the material. As already noted, it can be constructed of a plurality of materials or combination thereof. Open center portion 370 can be selected to be a variety of sizes depending on whether, for example, the pressure attachment 360 is intended for a digit, forearm, or other extremity.

FIG. 4A shows an embodiment of a human motor control device 400 having an intermetacarpal pressure attachment 402 non-releasably coupled to a cuff 404. The intermetacarpal pressure attachment 402 has a pliable pressure member 406 having open center portions 408 410 each sized to receive a wearer's digit and be disposed in proximity to the base of those digits. Intermetacarpal portions 416 418 420 of pressure member 406 can create a pressure on intermetacarpal regions between those digits of the wearer. That pressure creates an increase and organization of somatosensory input to the wearer.

Those skilled in the art will appreciated that pressure member 406, flaps 412 414 and cuff 404 can be manufactured as a single piece, or they can be constructed separately or in any combination thereof using the same or differing materials. When manufactured separately, they can be coupled together using a variety of means, both permanently or releasably, using hook and loop fasteners, glue or adhesives, sewing or otherwise.

The illustrated pliable pressure member 406 has two (2) open center portions 408 410, but in other embodiments it can have more or fewer open center portions. Intermetacarpal portions 416 418 420 are located adjacent to open center portions such that each intermetacarpal portion can be disposed over an intermetacarpal region of the wearer and apply a pressure thereon. Intermetacarpal portions 416 418 420 can be of a variety of shapes and sizes, but are preferably adapted to apply a pressure between digits of the wearer, that is, on the intermetacarpal regions between adjacent digits.

Cutouts 426 428 facilitate placement of digits adjacent to those received via open center portions 408 410, and can be of various shape and sizes depending on which digits are to be received by the pressure member 406. Open center portions 408 410 can be of the same or differing sizes, each size selected according to the size of the wearer's digit that will be received there through.

Flaps 412 414 each have a proximal end coupled to the pliable pressure member 406, and each flap has a distal end having a fastener 422 424 as already noted above. Fasteners 422 424 can have different configurations, materials and means of fastening such as already described above. In the illustrated embodiment, flaps 412 have sufficient length to wrap around a portion of the wearer's limb and releasable couple to the cuff 404.

The human motor control device 400 can include a combination of materials such as a LYCRA® type material for a outer surface, and a compliant foam type material for an inner surface in contact with the wearer's skin. A combination of materials can allow the pliable pressure member 406 to be compliant in order to allow adjustment and to be secured between the wearer's digits providing increased pressure thereto, yet also soft and tactilely functional against a wearer's skin. One example of a type of material which can be used is NuStim Wrap® previously mentioned above. The intermetacarpal pressure attachment 402 can be attached to a cuff to create a pressure between the pliable pressure member 404 and the wearer, or it can be used without a cuff and still provide such pressure, as now illustrated.

FIG. 4B illustrates the human motor control device 400 of FIG. 4A disposed on a wearer's hand. Digits of the wearer's hand are received via open center portions 408 410, and cutouts 426 428 allow placement of the pliable pressure member 406 in proximity to those digits. Cuff 404 is disposed on the palm side of the wearer's hand, and flaps 412 414, extending around the outside of the hand, are releasably coupled to the cuff 404 via fasteners 422 424. Because the intermetacarpal pressure member 406 is constructed of a pliable material, tension provided via the flaps 412 414 is transmitted to intermetacarpal portions 416 418 420 causing a pressure on the wearer's intermetacarpal regions.

FIG. 5 shows an application of a human control device 500 secured on a wearer's hand. The device 500 has a cuff 502, first and second pressure attachments 504 506, and an intermetacarpal pressure attachment 508. It will thus be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various combinations of pressure attachments can be applied to simultaneously apply pressure to various digits, joints, ligaments and tendons of a wearer to increase and organize somatosensory stimuli that, in turn, can increase the desired response from the wearer

As illustrated, intermetacarpal pressure attachment 508 is coupled or otherwise integrated to cuff 502, although in one embodiment, an intermetacarpal pressure attachment can be separate therefrom. Cuff 502 is as generally described above and is illustrated as surrounding the wearer's hand. Cuff 502 is disposed thereon by sliding the wearer's digits through open center portions of the intermetacarpal pressure attachment 508 as already described, and disposing the attachment at or near the base of the digits. Securing the cuff 502 to the wearer is and the intermetacarpal attachment 508 is accomplished by pulling flaps 514A 514B around the hand in a direction opposed to a proximal end 510A 510B of each flap, and fastening each to cuff 502 using fasteners 516A 516B, respectively.

Pressure attachments 504 506 illustrated are as generally described above, and each has a pliable pressure member and flaps coupled thereto. Each pliable pressure member receives a digit and is disposed in proximity to the base of that digit. For example, pressure attachment 504 has a pliable pressure member 520 that is disposed near the base of the wearer's digit. Flat 518 has a distal end coupled to the pressure member 520, and has a distal end having a fastener 512 that is coupled to the cuff 502.

FIG. 6 shows a further embodiment of a human motor control device 600 having a first cuff 602, a second cuff 604 and pliable pressure attachments 606A-F. First cuff 602 is illustrated as sized and shaped to be a glove type structure, and can be of seamless construction incorporating materials such as those already described. A seamless construction negates a need for fastening flaps to be incorporated within the cuff, however, such construction also increases a need to ensure a proper sizing of the first cuff 602, and second cuff 604 if also of a glove type structure, to ensure proper placement to a wearer's hand, e.g., a stretch fit. Second cuff 604 is also illustrated as a seamless cuff; however, it can be of a wrap variety with fastening flaps as described above. In any event, first cuff 602 and second cuff 604 can be separate, or they can be joined together via any number of joining means such as unibody construction, hook and loop arrangement, glue or adhesive, or other means with will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.

Pressure attachments 606A-E are as generally described above, and each has a pliable pressure member sized and shaped to receive a digit, and flaps having fasteners, such that the flaps can be tensioned and releasably coupled to one or both of the cuffs 602 604. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that pressure attachments 606B-E can also have one or more further flaps on a back side of the first cuff (not shown), and that such configurations are envisioned. Further, it will be appreciated that first cuff 602 can have one or more integrated intermetacarpal pressure attachments, as described above.

Pressure attachment 606F has a first pliable pressure member 612A and a second pliable pressure member (not shown) that is disposed on an opposing side of the wearer's forearm. Flaps 614 618 each couple the first pressure member 612 to the second pressure member, thereby creating tension between the two pressure members that, in turn, create a pressure on the wearer's forearm. Flaps 614 618 can have fasteners disposed on one or more ends that are reliably coupled to one of the pressure members, and are constructed of materials as described above. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that this embodiment of a pressure attachment provides increased and organized somatosensory input to the wearer.

A method for somatosensory stimulation is provided, including a means for providing pressure without causing a loss of circulation wherein the pressure causes sensory input to nerves in the hand, wrist, or forearm and wherein the sensory input alters motor control of the hand, wrist, or forearm. The means for providing the pressure can include, but is not limited to, the device 10 described above, and the system 15 for altering proprioceptive sensory input which is also described above.

In practice, one or more locations or regions of a wearer's extremity or extremities are selected for application of pressure attachments. One or more cuffs are applied to those areas and secured thereon using any of the means described above. Selected pressure attachments, including any intermetacarpal pressure attachments, are applied to the wearer at the selected locations. Flaps coupled to pliable pressure members of those pressure attachments are tensioned and attached at distal ends to the cuff(s).

The present invention is further described with reference to the following three examples, each of which is intended to be illustrative rather than limiting.

EXAMPLE 1

The patient is approximately 5-years-old boy with a moderate autism disorder. He presented with echolalic speech, low tone throughout upper extremities, lower extremities, and trunk. He shows decreased ability to interact socially with adults and peers, and exhibits stereotypical self-stimulatory behaviors including hand flapping. A system of the present invention was applied to the patient, including a first cuff member on the hand, a second cuff member on the forearm, a pliable intermetacarpal attachment, and pressure attachments to the digits of the hand.

After the system was applied, flaps were tensioned for optimal fit and to provide a constant pressure. The first and second cuff members, and pliable intermetacarpal attachment were each adjusted to provide a tactile input through increased pressure to nerves thereabout, but without significantly affecting circulation. Pressure attachments were then applied to the patient's thumb and index finger and the flaps of each pressure attachment were tensioned and attached to the first cuff. Attention was given to placement of the flaps relative to the thumb and index finger to provide correct joint approximations at the first and second metacarpalphalangeal joints. The first cuff member was stretched in a direction toward the second cuff and joined thereto via Velcro® hook and loop fasteners.

After several hours, the stereotypical/self-stimulatory behaviors noted above noticeably decreased. The patient was still functional while the system of the present invention applied and was observed coloring and attempting to interact with other children.

EXAMPLE 2

The patient is a 6-year-old boy with severe autistic disorder. He presented with little to no speech, decreased ability to interact socially with adults and peers, and posturing of upper extremities into awkward positions with visual fixation on his upper extremities, primarily hands. A system of the present invention was applied to the patient, including a first cuff member on the hand, a second cuff member on the forearm, and a pliable intermetacarpal attachment to the right hand of the patient. The system was secured and adjusted using flaps as described above.

After several hours the patient showed an increase aware of his right hand, and ceased his prior posturing positions. His right had appeared in a relaxed position at the side of his body while he was observed sitting on the floor.

EXAMPLE 3

The patient is a 13-month-old boy with a right middle cerebral artery cerebrovascular accident (perinatal stroke) that affected primarily his left upper and lower extremities. A main concern related his left upper thumb that he would present in a flexor pattern similar to a child with cerebral palsy or an adult who suffered a stroke. The patient had decreased function of his hand/finger complex because of the thumb flexor pattern. Further, the patient had extreme difficulty forming a pincer and cylindrical grasps.

The system of the present invention was applied to the patient, including a first cuff member on the hand and pliable intermetacarpal member to the left upper extremity. It was adjusted as described above using flaps and fasteners coupled to the cuff. The system included a pliable pressure attachment applied to the patient's left thumb, the flaps tensioned to pull the thumb into a slight extension. The pressure attachment was attached to a pliable intermetacarpal member to provided to correct joint approximation(s) at the first metacarpalphalangeal joints and facilitate extension of thumb.

After approximately three tries of grabbing a large crayon, the patient, with the system of the present invention applied, was able to reach for the crayon, extend his thumb and grasp the crayon with correct cylindrical grip. After the system of the present invention was taken off he was still able to reach for the crayon, extend his thumb and grasp the crayon although the effect was only transient.

The invention being thus disclosed and illustrative embodiments thereof described, further variations and modifications will occur to those skilled in the art and all such variations and modifications are considered to lie within the scope of the invention as defined by the claims appended hereto and equivalents thereof.