Title:
Chair for an enhanced learning environment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A chair with a vertically moveable seat member and a knee-shin rest member mounted on a base unit with foot rest members in a relationship to provide a kneeling-like sitting position.



Inventors:
Travis, Tanya (Grand Junction, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/248545
Publication Date:
04/20/2006
Filing Date:
10/12/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/423.12
International Classes:
A47C1/034; A47C7/50
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040036345Four-point seat belt having electric motor driven retractorFebruary, 2004Herberg et al.
20050110314Element protection cycle seat coverMay, 2005Buselmeier
20080197682Seat for heavy construction equipmentAugust, 2008Kim
20080012412CHAIR WITH SEAT AND BACKREST WITH SYNCHRONISED MOVEMENTJanuary, 2008Piretti
20090212606Chair with ice bucket armrestsAugust, 2009Bunch
20050184565Tempering device for vehicle seatsAugust, 2005Weiss et al.
20100032998PORTABLE COLLAPSIBLE CAMP CHAIR WITH HEATED SEAT AND BACKFebruary, 2010Eckman et al.
20010006303Universal wheelchair/seat restraint assemblyJuly, 2001Girardin
20080164736Movable Installation Comprising Rows of SeatsJuly, 2008Figueras Mitjans
20040036327Device for regulating the position of bicycle seatsFebruary, 2004Barandiaran Salaberria
20030062753Wheeled chair with a seat locking unitApril, 2003Chao



Primary Examiner:
WHITE, RODNEY BARNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EDWIN L. HARTZ (GRAND JUNCTION, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A chair for enhanced student learning comprising means for sensing proprioception through the student plantor flexors to provide strong physical sense of self.

2. A chair in accordance with claim 1 wherein proprioception is also sensed through the students knee extensors.

3. A chair in accordance with claim 1 wherein the sensing of proprioception is accomplished while the student is in a kneeling-like sitting position.

4. A chair in accordance with claim 1 wherein the student is in a kneeling-like sitting position with the feet held in place against foot rests.

5. A chair in accordance with claim 1 comprising a seat member and a knee-shin rest member.

6. A chair in accordance with claim 5 further comprising a pair of foot rest members and a base unit supporting the seat member and the knee-shin rest member, with the foot rest member being part of the base unit.

7. A chair comprising a seat member, a knee-shin rest member, and foot rest members.

8. A chair in accordance with claim 7 wherein the size of the members and the spacing of the members are dictated by the height and weight of the user.

9. A chair in accordance with claim 7 further comprising a base unit for supporting the seat member and the knee-shin rest members, wherein the support for the seat member includes a spring to provide vertical movement for the seat member.

10. A chair in accordance with claim 9 wherein the base unit is constructed from PVC pipe and fittings.

11. A chair for enhanced student learning comprising means to elicit sensation to a student vestibular and proprioception sensory systems while the student is in a kneeling-like sitting position on a seat member that bounces with movement by the student.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/619,445, filed Oct. 15, 2005, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to seating and more particularly to a chair providing movement and dynamic activity and is especially useful in the learning environment for students.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Some students are very sluggish and tend to lay their heads on their desks or prop themselves up on their elbows. Other students tend to be so full of the wiggles that they can't stop bothering their neighbors or focus on the directions from the teacher. Both groups of students need help with getting “ready” to learn. With the expectation that no child will be left behind, schools and teachers need help with providing the student with learning options. Diversity within a classroom is becoming more of a requirement, simply because students are all different and learn differently. Teachers are learning that providing a number of different seating/working equipment is helping students learn. A variety of classroom seating positions allows students to choose what works best for them.

Definition of Terms

    • Sensation: This is food for the brain, sometimes called input or ascending information. Normally we think of vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. With sensory processing, we include and emphasize the sensations of body position (proprioception), and vestibular (movement/gravity) information. The four most important sensory systems related to sensory processing are tactile (touch), vestibular (gravity/movement), proprioception (muscle/joint) and auditory (hearing).
    • Tactile Sensation: Our sense of touch. We have two very different ways of knowing about our body boundary through touch; one is defensive in nature (I think I have a spider on my neck) and the other discriminative (no, it's the collar on my shirt). We are especially rich in touch receptors in our hands, feet and around our face and neck.
    • Vestibular Information: The inner ear collects sound, movement and gravity information. Gravity and movement information is vestibular sensation. It allows us to know where we are in space, what direction we are moving and how fast. We reflexively right ourselves when we are out of the line of gravity so we do not fall. This is constant information, and is considered one of the most powerful sensations for alert/arousal and a tool in Sensory Integration therapy.
    • Proprioception: Every muscle fiber of every muscle has a tiny sensor that tracks the length and rate of change of that muscle fiber. The muscle and joint receptors are constantly informing the central nervous system (the brain) of our “body map”. A rich source of proprioception is our plantar flexors (calves).
    • Auditory Information: Listening to all sounds around us helps us locate our place in space. Language processing is only one part of auditory function. We must screen out unimportant sound and focus and orient to important sounds. To be safe from harm is one of the primary functions of auditory processing.
    • Defensiveness To Sensation: When sensation tells us that something is dangerous; we immediately turn on our “freeze, fight or flight” response. For instance, with touch, we have to discriminate what is touching us, where it is and how dangerous it is before we can attend to anything else in our environment. After a while even the possibility of a noxious sensation is perceived as a threat.
    • Threshold: This is the amount of stimulation is takes to fire off the first signals of sensory information. Some students have a low threshold (low amounts of stimulation gets the signal started). Others may need a lot of stimulation to start the signal.
    • Modulation: The first order screening, dampening down and directing of sensation. Think of this concept as a traffic police officer at a very busy intersection. Some sensory information is tuned up, and some is tuned down or out. Modulation is key to creating order, and “making sense” of the vast amount of incoming information. A powerful environmental modulator is music. Some neurochemicals are modulators, like serotonin, dopamine and NE.
    • Sensory Integration: This is the product of the result of Vestibular Information, modulation and association between sensory systems. 99% of all neurons are association fibers!

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The chair of this invention is another seating option for teachers and schools to include in their classrooms and provides movement and dynamic activity. Providing movement and dynamic activity for students while they learn is based on the theory of sensory processing. This is a theory that reflects recent brain science about how we learn and store cognitive information, and most importantly what contributes to retention and continued growth in education.

The huge implicit sensory systems of vestibular (movement and gravity, located in the inner ear), proprioceptive (muscle spindle activity) and tactile (skin boundary) are important for the “physical sense of self”. The physical sense of self is the foundation for a psychological sense of self. A psychological sense of self allows higher cognitive function of attention, memory and problem solving. In a classroom a child must have a reliable foundation in order to learn. The physical sense of self also relies on good sleep, nutrition and emotional supports. Symptoms of ADHD, Autism and Learning Problems appear to be on the rise. These children require enriched learning experiences to reach their potential.

The seating positions of the chair of this invention offer several physical advantages to learners. These positions “alert” the system by stimulating the anti-gravity muscles. This activates head and neck activity that helps focus the eyes on what is important. A student who is in a position of sitting upright with legs “locked” into a kneeling position feels more “grounded,” safe and secure. The arms are free to work at tabletop activity such as writing or math work. The chair permits the hips to be active and as a result, the spine becomes active. This is feeding the systems that tell us where we are, what is up/down, and in what relationship we are to other people and objects. It feeds the discriminatory central brain systems that help us inhibit extraneous stimulation or tune out what is unimportant, like the noise of the neighbors pencil or the scratching of items or voices other than the teachers. The brain chemicals that help us modulate (tune up what is important and tune down what is unimportant) are all elicited by the huge sensory systems of vestibular, proprioception and tactile information.

Sitting in the chair the user, generally a student, is placed in a kneeling-like sitting position with the feet firmly against rests on the floor. The chair has a seat member, a knee-shin rest member and a rest member for each foot. A base unit supports the seat member, the knee-shin rest member and the foot rest members. The seat member is loosely supported in the base unit to permit vertical movement of the seat member against a spring in the base unit. This results in bounce of the seat member which causes strong sensation to two large sensory systems, viz., the vestibular and proprioception.

The above and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will be more fully understood when considered with respect to the detailed description, appended claims and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view from the left rear of the chair, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view from the left front of the chair, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view from the right front of the chair, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view from the right front of the support components of the base unit in exploded view of the chair, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 5A is a left-side elevation view in cross-section of the seat members of the chair, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 5B is a front elevation view of the base of the seat member with attaching means, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 5C is a cut-away view of a portion of an end of the base showing the attaching means and corresponding hole, in the base, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 5D is a perspective view of the bottom of the seat member showing the cover attached to the base, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 5E is a perspective view from the front showing the bottom of the base, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 6 is a left-side elevation view of the seat member with the attachment means (in phantom) and a portion of the upper part of the base unit, in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 7 is a left-side elevation view in cross-section of the knee-shine rest member, in accordance with this invention; and

FIG. 8 illustrates the chair in use, in accordance with this invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The chair of this invention provides movement and dynamic activity and is designed to activate specific musculature, while locking students into an upright, kneeling-like position. This allows and provides dynamic rocking and movement activity, which helps a student to be alert and orient to pertinent learning information while remaining in his/her respective learning place. The chair affects attention to learning opportunity, fine motor legibility (handwriting or motor planning), and written production along with educational retention. Movement is relevant to memory. Occupational therapists continue to develop the tools for classrooms in order to address sensory processing issues. This chair is a seating option for learning.

The chair, as shown in FIGS. 1 through 8, has three basic components. Namely, a seat member 40, a knee-shin rest member 50, and foot rest members 60 and 61, which are interconnected and supported by base or base unit 70. Seat 40 is attached to base 70 and is supported above the base 70 by supports 45 and 46. The knee-shin rest 50 is attached to the base 70 and supported above the base 70 by supports 52 and 53. The knee-shin rest 50 has a bearing surface 51, which contacts and supports the knees and shins of the occupant or user of the chair. A third important component of the chair are the foot rests 60 and 61. Foot rests 60 and 61 are part of the base 70 and provides stabilization of the chair in use.

The foot rests serve an important function for student learning while the student is using the chair. A large percentage of proprioception (physical/muscle sense) is submitted to central nervous systems via the plantar flexors and knee extensors (calf and thigh muscles). Proprioception is associated with strong physical sense of self necessary for sense of safety and adequate motor planning in response to both gross and fine motor classroom challenges. Occupational therapists work on readiness as a prerequisite to learning. Many children rock in their chairs or get out of their chairs because they are sensory seeking. They are seeking strong physical sense of self in order to calm down or alert/arouse according to their specific learning needs.

The size of the components making up the chair is dictated by the material used and the size of the occupant for which the chair is designed. The chair may be made up of many different materials. For example, tubular aluminum is light in weight and strong and may be used as the support and base of the chair. Steel or titanium are also materials that may be used for the chair. Although not in any way limited to PVC, the chair of this invention will be described using PVC as the material for the base 70, including, the footrests 60 and 61 and the supports 45, 46 and 52, 53. PVC is a relatively inexpensive material and easy to assemble and easy to cut to various lengths as required for the size of the occupant for which the chair is designed.

The seat 40 is moveable up and down to provide bounce. When using PVC the bounce or movement is provided by spring 47 on the left side, shown in FIG. 4, and spring 48 on the right side. The springs fit inside the tubular PVC as shown in FIG. 4 and have a resistance that is selected based on the weight of the user of the chair, with increased resistance for increased weight. The occupant's or the student's weight forces the seat 40 down while the springs 47 and 48 force the seat upward creating the bounce. This allows the seat to have approximately 2-5 inches of up and down dynamic activity. This bouncing by the chair occupant elicits strong sensation to two large sensory systems, mainly the vestibular and proprioception. The bouncing causes extension and proprioceptive input with antigravity spinal musculature (in order to align with the angle of gravity). The gravity receptors located in vestibular chambers (inner ear) are excited by strong gravity sensation. Both sensory systems are relevant to learning. Vestibular sensation and proprioception are strongly associated with attention, eye movement and coordination (orientation to lesson). Overall muscle tone (readiness), head and neck muscle coordination and integration of auditory/visual sensory systems (reading skill) result from vestibular and proprioception. Additionally the student is alert, attentive and has strong body map for motor response (writing skill).

The chair, as used by an occupant or student, is shown is FIG. 8. The shin-knee bearing surface 51 places the occupant or student in a kneeling-like position at approximate working height to a desk, such as a classroom desk 80. The knees 90 and shins 91 of the occupant rest on the knee-shin rest 51 while the feet 92 rest against and are supported by the footrests 60 and 61.

The dimensions for a chair shown in FIGS. 4 through 7 for a fifty-pound person are set forth below for a fifty-pound person are shown in detail in FIGS. 4 through 6. The height of the seat 40 and knee-shin rest 50 above the base 70 are increased for taller people. Additionally, the width of the seat and the knee-shin rest are increased as well as the distance between the left footrest and the right footrest for heavier people.

The supports 45 and 46 of the base unit or base 70 for the seat 40 are identical in material and size and only support 45 will be described in detail with reference to FIG. 4. Support 45 includes a cap 5 that attaches to the seat 40 as shown in FIG. 6. Cap 5 is attached to a 6″ piece of 1″ PVC pipe 14. Piece 14 is inserted in and connected to a reducer 44 that goes from a 1¼″ Tee 13 to the 1″ pipe 14. 1¼″ Tee 13 is connected between a reducer 44 and a 1¼″ PVC pipe 3. Pipe 3 is 5″ long and houses the spring 47. Pipe 3 is attached to the base through Tee 4 which is a 1¼″ PVC Tee having four outlets, 90° apart on the bottom. Support 46 is similarly constructed. The supports 45 and 46 are separated at the Tee 13 by a 1¼″ PVC pipe 43 (FIG. 1) that is 3¼″ long. The supports 45 and 46 are separated at the base at the 1¼″ Tee 4, by a 1¼″ piece of PVC pipe 44 that is 3″ long (FIG. 3).

The components for the supports 52 and 53, which are identical for the knee-shin rest 50, are shown in exploded view in FIG. 4. Support 52 includes a 1¼″ plug 9 at the top of the support which meets with the bottom of the knee-shin rest 50. Plug 9 is inserted into a 1¼″ 45° elbow 8 which meets with a 4″, 1¼″ PVC pipe 6. Pipe 6 fits into a 90° elbow of 1¼″ PVC 7 to meet with the base unit or base 70. The base 70 includes the bottom portion of the elbow 7 as well as an 8″ piece of 1¼″ PVC pipe 5, Tee 4, a 5″ piece of 1¼″ PVC pipe 17 and a 1¼″ cap 12 as shown in FIG. 4.

The base further includes the footrests 60 and 61 which are attached to the Tee 4 and extend outwardly from the Tee 4. The footrests 60 and 61 are comprised of a 5″ piece of 1¼″ PVC pipe 17, that is terminated by a 1¼″ PVC cap 12 (FIGS. 2-4).

The supports 52 and 53 are farther apart at the base of the shin rest 50 than at the elbows 7 of base 70. The knee-shin rest 50 is at a 45° angle to the bottom of the seat 40. The elbows 7 at the base 70 of the chair are 5″ apart while the plugs 9 at the top of the supports 52 and 53 are 7″ apart. This creates a fanning effect from the 90° elbows 7 of the base 70 so that the 90° elbows 7 twist slightly outwardly from the center point between the elbows 7. The knee-shin bearing surface 51 blocks the knees in such a way as to ensure a 90° angle between the hip to knee part of the leg and the knee to ankle part or greater joint articulation (hip, knee and ankle). This requires a firm foam wedge insert in the seat 40 so that the seat 40 has a higher elevation at the back of the seat than in the front of the seat near the knee-shin rest 50. The length of the tubes 5 of the base 70 that run parallel on the floor allow the occupant or student a seating position that places the hips directly above and in line with the seat supports 45 and 46. Consequently, the occupants or students pelvis is set in a slight anterior tilt providing an active skeletal pelvic base for spinal curves and dynamic adjustments up through the spine and neck musculature as shown in FIG. 8.

The chairs are constructed and dimensioned so that there is at least a 90 degree articulation of the lower extremity long bones and a greater than 90 degree articulation at the hip, as shown in FIG. 8. The long bones are from the hip pointer to the middle of the knee and from the middle of the knee to the middle of the ankle.

For a small child (kindergarten to 1st grade) the length of the long bones is typically 10 inches. For a medium size child (2nd and 3rd grade), the length is 12 inches and for a large size child (4th and 5th grade) the length is 14 inches.

The seat 40 as shown in FIGS. 5A-5E is constructed with a 10″ by 6″ King StarBoard (registered trademark) marine grade polymer sheet 144 of ¼″ thickness. The polymer sheet is the exposed lower ridged support for the seat 40. To provide the tilt between the front and the back of the seat, a wedge 145 of ridged foam is placed on top of the base 144. The wedge 145 is a firm foam material that is covered by a 1″ upholstery grade foam 146. On top of foam 146 is a 1″ layer of SunMate foam 147. An upholstery fabric 148 (FIG. 5D and FIG. 6) is wrapped around the foam and the polymer base 144 to complete the seat 40. The base 144 has two holes 149, that are 5″ apart with a square opening to meet with carriage bolts having square undersides at the top that fit in the square holes 149 shown in FIG. 5C.

The knee-shin rest 50 (shown in FIG. 7) is constructed in a manner that is similar to the construction of the seat 40. However, the knee-shin rest 50 does not have a wedged shape foam layer but rather has a rectangular shaped foam layer 155 with a uniform thickness throughout. The components of the knee-shin rest 50 consist of a top layer of 1″ SunMate foam 157 that is 7″ by 14″ in size. The top layer of foam 157 fits over a 1″ thickness of upholstery grade foam 156, which sits on top of the 1″ upholstery grade foam 155 that rests on a 7″ by 14″ cellular marine grade polymer utility sheet 152. Upholstery fabric 153 is wrapped around the foam layers 155, 156 and 157, to form a cover for the foam layers, and is attached to the base 152. 5/16″, squared underside, carriage bolts 158 are positioned 7″ apart on the base 152 for attachment to the supports 52 and 53 through plugs 9. Plugs 9 are secured to the base 152 by use of a fender washer and a 5/16″ nut attached to the 5/16″ carriage bolts that pass through the base 152.

A string 100, or some other means, is attached between the bottom of the seat 40 and the cross member 43 to prevent the seat 40 from becoming detached when the chair is moved. The string is wrapped around cross member 43 and knotted at the bottom end and is attached to an eye hook 101 on the bottom of the seat 40.

In summary, the invention described herein generally relates to a chair for an enhanced learning environment and is illustrated in the context of certain material and dimensions, which are not limiting as to the materials and dimensions that may be used. While certain exemplary embodiments have been described above in detail and shown in the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that such embodiments are merely illustrative of and not restrictive of the broad invention. In particular, it should be recognized that the teachings of the invention apply to a wide variety of systems and processes. It will thus be recognized that various modifications may be made to the illustrated and other embodiments of the invention described above, without departing from the broad inventive scope thereof. In view of the above, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the particular embodiments or arrangements disclosed, but is rather intended to cover any changes, adaptations or modifications which are within the scope and spirit of the invention as defined by the appended claims.