Title:
Inclined mattress pad
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A full length mattress pad is provides improved patient support for all parts of the user's body through provision of a support surface supplement for use with existing support surfaces, such as for use on top of a conventional mattress or hospital bed. The pad has a body of resilient material having a relatively flat, planar lower surface for being received on top of the existing support surface, and has a length at least generally the same as that of the mattress, or at least long enough to support the full length of a user. An inclined upper surface is defined by the body of resilient material, and has a plurality of different longitudinal sections. The plurality of different longitudinal sections collectively define a predetermined angle of inclination for the inclined upper surface which is relatively constant along the entire length of the body of resilient material relative to its planar lower surface. At least one of the plurality of different longitudinal sections has a relatively flat surface inclined at the predetermined angle of inclination, while at least one other of the plurality of different longitudinal sections has a surface formed with respective or different projections therein, so that improved patient support is provided through a combination of the inclined upper surface and the plurality of different longitudinal sections. Preferably, the predetermined angle of inclination is no more than about 10°. Characteristics of the plurality of longitudinal sections are selected based upon one or more of the type of resilient material used, the thickness of such material, the change in thickness of such material due to the predetermined angle of inclination, the material density, and the indention load deflection characteristics of such material, with such selection and combination of characteristics determined so as to optimize the inclined pad for support for the user's body which is engineered on the basis of the intended end use of said mattress pad. The longitudinal sections are also formed by one or both of longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of the inclined upper surface, also preselected to address the relieving of support pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users of the mattress pad. At least one of the depths, widths, and lengths of such cuts, forming cross-sectional shapes of the different or respective projections, are preselected on the basis of the intended end use of said mattress pad. A plurality of channels may be formed between adjacent of the respective projections, for dissipating heat and moisture from a user who is supported on the inclined upper surface, to increase the health and comfort of such user.



Inventors:
Robertson, Kim (Shelbyville, KY, US)
Green, Robert (Greenville, SC, US)
Ackley, Robert E. (Greenville, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/352909
Publication Date:
08/17/2006
Filing Date:
02/13/2006
Assignee:
Span-America Medical Systems, Inc. (Greenville, SC, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/691, 5/736
International Classes:
A47C27/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DORITY & MANNING, P.A. (GREENVILLE, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A full length mattress pad, for providing improved patient support for all parts of the user's body through provision of a support surface supplement that is formed for use with existing support surfaces, such as for use on top of a conventional mattress or hospital bed, said mattress pad comprising: a body of resilient material having a relatively flat, planar lower surface for being received on top of an existing support surface, and having a length at least generally the same as that of a mattress; and an inclined upper surface defined by said body of resilient material, having a plurality of different longitudinal sections disposed on said inclined upper surface; wherein said plurality of different longitudinal sections collectively define a predetermined angle of inclination for said inclined upper surface which is relatively constant along the entire length of said body of resilient material relative to said planar lower surface thereof, with at least one of said plurality of different longitudinal sections having a relatively flat surface inclined at said predetermined angle of inclination, and with at least one other of said plurality of different longitudinal sections having a surface formed with different projections therein, so that improved patient support is provided through a combination of said inclined upper surface and said plurality of different longitudinal sections.

2. A full length mattress pad as in claim 1, wherein at least one of said plurality of longitudinal sections may be formed with different projections therein having specific cross-sectional shapes in both a top view and side view perspective.

3. A full length mattress pad as in claim 1, wherein characteristics of said plurality of longitudinal sections are selected based upon one or more of the type of resilient material used, the thickness of such material, the change in thickness of such material due to said predetermined angle of inclination, the density of said material, and the indention load deflection characteristics of such material, with such selection and combination of characteristics determined to optimize said inclined pad so as to provide engineered support for the user's body.

4. A full length mattress pad as in claim 1, wherein said predetermined angle of inclination is no more than about 10°.

5. A full length mattress pad as in claim 1, where said predetermined angle of inclination is between about 2° to 5°.

6. A full length mattress pad as in claim 2, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by one or both of longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, preselected to address the relieving of support pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users of said mattress pad.

7. A full length mattress pad as in claim 6, wherein at least one of the depths, widths, and lengths of said cuts, forming said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections, are preselected on the basis of the intended end use of said mattress pad.

8. A full length mattress pad as in claim 7, wherein the angles of said cuts are shifted to accommodate said angle of inclination of said inclined upper surface, so as to create the desired projections within each of the sections having projections therein.

9. A full length mattress pad as in claim 2, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by at least longitudinal cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal cuts extend across the entire body of said mattress pad.

10. A full length mattress pad as in claim 2, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by at least longitudinal cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal cuts extend only partially across the entire body of said mattress pad.

11. A full length mattress pad as in claim 2, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, preselected to address the relieving of support pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal and lateral cuts within different sections are varied in at least one of depth, numbering, and spacing thereof.

12. A full length mattress pad as in claim 2, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, preselected to address the relieving of support pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal cuts and said lateral cuts within different sections are varied in depth thereof.

13. A full length mattress pad as in claim 2, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said different projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, with channels formed within said resilient body of said mattress pad, adjacent the bottom of said cuts thereof.

14. A full length mattress pad as in claim 13, wherein said channels are formed for corresponding with one or both of said longitudinal and said lateral cuts.

15. A full length mattress pad as in claim 13, wherein said channels are formed with predetermined cross-sectional shapes.

16. A full length mattress pad as in claim 15, wherein said predetermined cross-sectional shapes of said channels include at least one of circular, trapezoidal, triangular, and rectangular shapes.

17. A full length mattress pad, for providing improved patient support for all parts of the user's body through provision of a support surface supplement that is formed for use with existing support surfaces, such as for use on top of a conventional mattress or hospital bed, for providing beneficial rest of a user through providing raised extremities while reducing the incidence of damaged tissue conditions such as may occur from the application of sheer forces thereto, said full length mattress pad comprising: a body of resilient material having a relatively flat, planar lower surface for being received on top of an existing support surface, and having a length at least generally the same as that of a mattress on which said mattress pad will be supported; an inclined upper surface defined by said body of resilient material, having a plurality of different longitudinal sections disposed on said inclined upper surface; a predetermined angle of inclination for said inclined upper surface which is relatively constant along the entire length of said body of resilient material relative to said planar lower surface thereof, collectively defined by said plurality of different longitudinal sections; a relatively flat surface inclined at said predetermined angle of inclination and defined in at least one of said plurality of different longitudinal sections; and respective projections forming a surface, at said predetermined angle of inclination, and within at least one other of said plurality of different longitudinal sections; and a plurality of channels formed between adjacent of said respective projections, for dissipating heat and moisture from a user who is supported on said inclined upper surface, to increase the health and comfort of such user; and wherein said predetermined angle of inclination is no more than about 10°, so that improved patient support is provided through a combination of said inclined upper surface and said plurality of different longitudinal sections.

18. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein at least one of said plurality of longitudinal sections may be formed with respective projections therein having specific cross-sectional shapes in both a top view and side view perspective.

19. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein said channels are formed with predetermined cross-sectional shapes.

20. A full length mattress pad as in claim 19, wherein said predetermined cross-sectional shapes of said channels include at least one of circular, trapezoidal, triangular, and rectangular shapes.

21. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein said predetermined angle of inclination is between about 2° to 5°.

22. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said respective projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by at least longitudinal cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal cuts extend across the entire body of said mattress pad.

23. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said respective projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by at least longitudinal cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal cuts extend only partially across the entire body of said mattress pad.

24. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said respective projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, preselected to address the relieving of support pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal and lateral cuts within different sections are varied in at least one of depth, numbering, and spacing thereof.

25. A full length mattress pad as in claim 17, wherein said cross-sectional shapes of said respective projections forming said plurality of longitudinal sections are formed by longitudinal and lateral cuts within a selected portion of said inclined upper surface of said resilient body of said mattress pad, preselected to address the relieving of support pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users of said mattress pad, and wherein said longitudinal cuts and said lateral cuts within different sections are varied in depth thereof.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/652,689, entitled “INCLINED MATTRESS PAD” by Kim Robertson, Robert Green, and Robert E. Ackley, filed Feb. 14, 2005 and which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present subject matter concerns mattress pads or overlays having an inclined surface in general, and in particular full length mattress pad embodiments having a variety of features to improve support for all parts of the user's body including in combination an inclined surface and sectionalized support areas, and which pads are portable yet which offer improved manufacturing efficiencies.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Convoluted foam pads have been used for providing improved comfort in affordable, consumer style products. Convoluted foam pads have also been used in hospital care practices as well as home therapeutic use as mattress overlays. Examples of such prior foam pads includes designs have a typically relatively thin base having tall conical peaks rising therefrom in a convoluted pattern, with an appearance similar to packing cartons for eggs. Such pads and others offer a level of usefulness in providing support to the user by relieving certain pressure points which the otherwise underlying mattress or support surface may not provide. Such pads can to an extent, from a distributed support perspective, enhance the surface of a conventional mattress or hospital bedding without entailing significant logistics or costs. The pads can be placed over the surface of the mattress with no special attachment mechanisms and then can be discarded over a period of use to be replaced by another inexpensive convoluted pad, either as associated with a program of “single patient use” or in accordance with other procedures.

Such embodiments of convoluted supplemental support pads provide at least one measure of usefulness relative to the problem of decubitus ulcers, also known as bedsores. The problem of prolonged pressure on natural bony projections of an individual greatly lessens the comfort of the user, or in patient situations (i.e., users constrained to significant periods of bed rest), creates conditions for the potential occurrence of decubitus ulcers. Such ulcers may typically occur in patients located in acute care settings where the patient's condition or treatment regimen limits the opportunity to therapeutically turn or otherwise reposition the patient. The convoluted pads described above have mainly been developed to provide improved comfort to users, or in some embodiments, to reduce and/or eliminate, at relatively low marginal cost, the initial development of decubitus ulcers in patients or other individuals who face above average times of bed rest. However, the manner in which such pads are supported on an underlying mattress or support creates a relatively horizontal sleeping surface for the user.

Anecdotal evidence exists that suggests that sleeping with raised extremities offers therapeutic benefits. For example, elevating the head and heart relative to the rest of the body may help reduce the development or persistence of a variety of different types of aliments. For example, elevating the head and heart may reduce acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”). Lying flat on a conventional mattress, or other horizontal surface such as a conventional mattress with a typical convoluted pad, may help promote stomach acid leaking from the stomach into the esophagus, thereby causing heartburn and damaging the esophagus as well as the vocal cords. By raising the head and torso when individuals or patients are asleep, the leakage of the stomach acid into the esophagus may be lessened or prevented. Lying on a surface which raises the head and torso above the rest of the body may improve valve closure in the stomach. Thus, similar to such potentially beneficial relationship to acid reflux and/or GERD, elevating the head and torso relative to the rest of the body may also reduce the incidence and effects of hiatal hernia, which is caused by improper valve closure at the stomach.

Another example of how elevating the head and the heart relative to the rest of the body may be helpful relates to preventing certain ailments related to circulatory system abnormalities, especially as relates to blood pressure. In particular, it has been suggested that elevating the head can cause cerebral critical closing pressure (“CCP”) and intracranial pressure (“ICP”) to be beneficially reduced. It has been shown that elevating the head while sleeping may reduce CCP and ICP levels. Having high CCP and ICP readings can increase the risk of strokes and other cerebrovascular circulation problems. Elevating the head also lowers blood flow pressures, which pressures could otherwise lead to additional problems such as brain edema, migraines, and glaucoma. Thus, elevating the head may reduce the severity of such ailments.

Obstructive sleep apnea is another problem that can be addressed by elevating the heat and heart relative to the rest of the body during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep and partially block the opening of the airway. When the muscles of the soft pallet at the base of the tongue and the uvula relax and sag, the airways become blocked making breathing both labored and noisy and can even cause it to stop altogether. By elevating the head and torso relative to the other parts of the body, the likelihood of such obstructions may decrease, thereby helping to lessen the chance of an individual suffering from sleep apnea.

Instead of the head and torso of a body, for some ailments it has been found that it may be advantageous to elevate the feet and legs relative to the rest of the body. Studies have shown that 30% of older adults experience benign nocturnal leg cramps. Further, many people suffer from leg edema which results in swollen legs and feet that occur when fluid is retained in these extremities. By slightly elevating the feet and legs relative to the rest of the body, the occurrence of leg cramps and leg edema may be reduced. Further, elevation of feet and legs relative to the rest of the body may also decrease the occurrence and severity of varicose veins. Varicose veins can occur when blood backs up in lower legs causing venous pressure to increase in the blood vessel, which in turn causes the blood vessel to dilate. By raising the feet and legs during sleep, the blood pressure may be reduced in these areas due to the forces of gravity.

A further benefit of raising the legs and feet may be the reduction of shin splints and tendonitis within the legs. Tendonitis and skin splits, a form of tendonitis, occur from inflammation of the associated tendons. By forcing the blood to travel against gravity, less blood flows to the injured areas, which can reduce inflammation of the tendon and thus the pain associated with it.

Different products have been suggested to place a mattress on at least a partial inclined position. For example, blocks have been placed under frames of beds to make the bed lean at an angle. The use of such blocks often causes the mattress to slide. Further, the individual sleeping on the mattress also tends to slide down the smooth surface, very undesirably creating sheer forces, which can damage skin tissue. Similarly, wedges have been used for placement under a mattress, to lift the mattress into an inclined position, though with similar resulting problems.

Adjustable beds have also been employed. However, these beds are quite expensive and do not incline the whole body. Rather only a portion of the body is inclined creating an unnatural sleeping position. Therefore, such beds are not useful for individuals needing to remain generally in a prone position. Partial wedges used to only raise the head or foot portion of the body have also been developed. As with the adjustable bed, abnormal sleeping positions often occur through the use of such wedges.

Therefore, a need exists for a device that can be used with different types of mattresses to promote the inclination of a body during rest and/or sleep while also mainly remaining in a normal or natural sleeping position. Also, a need exists for an inclined topper that can be portable, for use with different types of mattresses at different locations, while still being full length relative to such mattress types. Further, it would be generally beneficial if such a device could provide adequate physical and physiological support to help prevent the occurrence of undesirable sheer forces for bedridden individuals, while also providing the potential benefits obtained by the provision of a user's inclined position created by the device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present subject matter recognizes and addresses the above briefly discussed drawbacks, and others, of prior mainly horizontal support surfaces and existing mechanisms for creating an inclined support surfaces on which a user reposes during rest or sleep. Accordingly, one broad aspect of the present subject matter is to provide an inclined pad that may be used to maintain normal prone like, sleeping position while elevating selectively either legs or head relative to the rest of the user's body. Another broad aspect of the present subject matter is to provide an improved topper or pad device which is portable while still being full length relative to the underlying mattress with which it is used.

A further general aspect of the present subject matter is to provide improved patient support surfaces, for reducing the incidence of damaged tissue conditions, such as may occur from the application of sheer forces on tissue. Still another general aspect of the present subject matter is to provide improved patient support surfaces, for reducing the incidence of circulatory-based ailments.

Another general aspect of the present subject matter is to provide such improved support through use of a support surface supplement that is easy to adapt for use with existing support surfaces, such as for use on top of a conventional mattress or hospital bed. In such context, another present aspect to provide such an improved support surface supplement that is relatively low cost.

Another present aspect is to provide such an improved support surface supplement which is also subject to efficient manufacturing techniques, to contribute to a relatively low cost thereof.

Additional aspects and advantages of the present subject matter will be set forth in part in the following description, or will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art from the present complete description, or may be appreciated through practice of the present subject matter.

Also, it should be understood that modifications and variations to specifically illustrated and discussed features hereof may be practiced in various embodiments and uses of this subject matter without departing from the spirit and scope of the subject matter. Such variations may include, but are not limited to, substitutions of equivalent features and means for those shown or discussed, and the reversal of those constructions, or the like. Still further, it should be understood that different embodiments, as well as different presently presented preferred embodiments, of the present subject matter may include various combinations of presently disclosed features, or their equivalents (including combinations of features or steps and configurations thereof nonexpressly shown or stated).

One such exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter relates to an inclined pad made of a resilient material having different longitudinal sections disposed on the inclined surface of the pad. At least one of such sections may be formed with different projections therein. Such projections may advantageously have specific cross-sectional shapes in both a top view and side view perspective that have characteristics which are selected based upon the type of resilient material used, for example, regarding thickness, change of thickness (due to angle of incline), density, and indention load deflection characteristics (the deflection response of a set amount of the resilient material to a predetermined test load). Such selection and combination of characteristics help to optimize the inclined pad in accordance with present subject matter by providing engineered or designed support for the user's body, either to address specific ailments and/or to provide an overall general comfort to the user.

The angle of incline of the inclined pad may vary per the present subject matter depending on the end use of the pad. For example, a pad in accordance with present subject matter, may be used to address a specific ailment such as sleep apnea or leg edema. Generally, per present subject matter, the angle of incline for such an embodiment will be below 10° such as between about 2° to 5°. Taking into consideration such angles of inclination as well as the thickness and density of the resilient material to be used, sections of projections may be designed to further aid in addressing specific ailments which an embodiment of an inclined pad per present subject matter is designed to address and/or also to address the relieving of pressure points to decrease the chance of decubitus ulcers in users who may be bedridden.

The projections may be formed by longitudinal and/or lateral cuts within a selected portion of the inclined surface of the main body of the pad. The depths, widths, and lengths of the cuts again may be dependent upon the end use of the pads. The angles of the cuts may be shifted to accommodate the inclined surface to create the desired projections within each of the sections having projections therein. The longitudinal cuts may extend across the entire body of the pad or may extend only partially across the pad. Further, the longitudinal and lateral cuts within different sections may vary in depth, numbering and spacing. In embodiments where the depth of the lateral cuts varies between sections, each of the longitudinal cuts may vary in depth within each of the sections in the body of the pad.

Channels may also be formed within the body of the pad. Such channels may correspond with either the longitudinal or lateral cuts which help to form and/or define the projections within the different sections of the pad. Such channels may be of different cross-sectional shapes including circular, trapezoidal, triangular, rectangular, and the like. Such channels may be useful in developing specific support characteristics within the corresponding section of the pad. The channels may also be useful in dissipating heat and moisture to increase the health and comfort of the user who is supported on the inclined surface.

Inclined pad embodiments in accordance with the subject matter described herein may easily, quickly, and relatively inexpensively convert a flat mattress into a mattress having an inclined surface. The cost, ease of use and the benefits to the user make such present inclined pad subject matter useful for addressing the different types of ailments as described above.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will better appreciate the features and aspects of such embodiments, methods and other present aspects upon review of the remainder of the specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A full and enabling disclosure of the present matter, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, may be understood upon studying the complete disclosure herewith, including in part review of the following detailed specification, in conjunction with the appended figures, in which;

FIG. 1 illustrates a top plan view of an exemplary embodiment of an inclined mattress pad constructed in accordance with the present subject matter;

FIG. 2 is a side plan view of the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 illustrates an end plan view of the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged side view of a portion of the FIG. 3 illustration;

FIG. 5 illustrates an enlarged side view of a portion of the FIG. 2 illustration; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a portion of the FIG. 2 illustration.

Repeated use of the same reference characters throughout the present specification and drawings is intended to indicate the same or analogous elements or features of the present subject matter. In most instances, dotted line representations are intended to illustrate alternative features of the present subject matter, unless otherwise indicated.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the presently preferred embodiments of the present matter, one or more examples of which are shown in, or otherwise represented by, the figures. Each example is provided to explain the subject matter, and not as a limitation of the subject matter. In fact, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment or parts thereof to yield still a further embodiment. It is intended that the present subject matter cover such alternative combinations, modifications and variations.

The present subject matter is generally directed to inclined pads that can easily convert mattresses having flat or relatively flat surfaces into mattresses providing inclined surfaces on which users may be supported. These inclined pads are constructed by taking into consideration the resilient material used, including the resilient material's thickness, change of thickness (angle of incline), density, and its indention load deflection characteristics to engineer a pad that is best suited for its particular end use, whether that is to address a specific ailment or to provide the user with an overall improved comfort and sleep.

The pad can be engineered to supply specific support to the user's body by providing the pad with a specific angle of incline and subdividing the inclined surface of the pad into different support sections. The subdividing of the inclined surface of the pad into support sections can be performed in a similar manner to the relatively flat mattress pads disclosed in commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 4,862,538; U.S. Pat. No. 5,025,159; U.S. Pat. No. 5,252,278; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,580,504. The entire contents of these U.S. patents are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety for all purposes. However, with respect to the present subject matter, the effect that the inclined surface of the pad may have, or its planned use, is taken into consideration before criteria for such support sections are created.

FIGS. 1 through 6 show various facets of exemplary embodiments of an inclined mattress pad, generally 10, in accordance with present subject matter that includes a main body 20 formed from a resilient material. A variety of resilient materials may be used, for example, cellular cut foam. Individual pad 10 is generally rectangular having a length D3 and a width D4. The length D3 may correspond to the length of a mattress or it may be a set length which corresponds to an average size person. For example, the length D3 may be about 72″. The width D4 may also vary depending on the width of the bed or support surface on which it will be placed. Often times, for hospital beds, this size will correspond to the size of a twin mattress. The exact rectangular dimensions however may vary. Advantageously, though, the length D3 will be a distance which will allow for of an individual's body to be supported on the pad 10, and embodiments with such dimensions are encompassed within the present subject matter, regardless of whether the length of the subject pad matches that of a given mattress on which it is used in a particular instance.

The main body 20 of the pad 10 forms an upper inclined surface generally 30. The inclined surface 30 is constructed by having different thicknesses along the body 20 of the pad 10 starting with a thicker end 22 having a height H1 extending down to a thinner end 24 having a height H2.

In the illustrated embodiment, the incline (or angle) of the inclined surface 30 is relatively constant. This relatively constant incline helps to maintain a user's body in a normal, prone like, sleeping position. In such an embodiment, the heights H1 and H2 are a function of an angle of incline, represented by angle α (see FIGS. 2 and 5), and the length D3 and vise versa. Angle α of the inclined pad 10 is measured between the inclined surface 30 and a generally flat base surface 26 of the main body 20. The angle α will be at an angle that does not cause the individual discomfort while sleeping or resting on the inclined surface. Generally, angle α will be under 10° in measurement. In some embodiments, the angle α will generally be between about 5° and about 2°. In the exemplary embodiment shown, angle α is around 2.5°. In such an embodiment, general benefits of having raised extremities, either having the head and heart raised relative to the rest of the body when individuals lay with their head toward the thicker end 22, or having the feet and legs raised relative to the rest of the body when the user's head is resting towards the thinner end 24, can still be achieved without any unwanted drawbacks or associated discomfort for the individual using the pad 10.

To combat or counteract sheering potentially created by the angle of incline, the resilient material used as the base body of the inclined pad 10, will limit the amount of sheer created between the mattress and the base surface of the body 20 of the pad 10, when a user's body is lying on the inclined surface 30. Such an arrangement is to help prevent the sliding of the pad generally 10 relative to the mattress or other support surface (not shown) on which the pad 10 is received. Similarly, the resilient material reduces the amount of sheer between the inclined surface 30 and the user's body.

The height H1 of the thicker end 22, represents the thickest section of the main body of the pad 10. As stated above, the height H1 is dependent upon the angle α and the height H2 of the thinner end 24 and the length D3 of the pad 10. In the embodiment shown, angle alpha α is about 2.5 degrees with the height H2 of the thinner end 24 being around 0.5″ while the length D3 is around 72″. For such measurements, H1 of the thicker end 22 corresponds to the distance of around 3.6″. Again, the height H1 of the thicker end 22 will varying depending on the angle alpha α, the height H2 of the thinner end 24 and the length D3 of the mattress pad 10. The measurements for the height H1 of the thicker end 22 will also take into consideration the end use of the pad. For example, for residential use, it may be advantageous to limit the height H1 to a height which will allow for fitted sheets to fit over both the pad 10 as well as the mattress it will overlay.

Another consideration which affects both the height H1 of the end 22 and the angle α of the inclined pad 10 is the type of ailment which the inclined pad may be used to address. Generally speaking, an angle between about 5° and 2° can be used to generally address elements such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, acid reflux, hiatal hernia, etc., when the head is place towards the thicker end 22 of the main body 20 of the pad 10. Such angles also provided benefits in addressing leg cramps, leg edemas, varicose veins, etc., as discussed above, when the feet and legs are placed towards the thicker end 22 of the main body 20 of the pad 10. However, it may be determined for particular patients or users that specific angles of greater and lesser size may be useful for the inclined surface to provide better relief for specific of such ailments as described above, all of which variations are intended to come within the spirit and scope of the present subject mattered.

The height H2 of the thinner end 24 will generally be the height which will provide basic cushioned (i.e., resilient) support for the portion of the body which is supported thereon. However, no specific measurement is necessarily needed for the height H2 of the thinner end 24 of the main body 20 of the pad 10. The height H2 of the thinner end 24 may vary from a minimal distance up to several inches in height depending on the use of the inclined pad 10, and the thicker end 22 may be likewise varied, to establish a desired angle of inclination.

To further increase the benefits of the inclined pad 10, surface 30 may have a plurality of longitudinal sections, each having predetermined support characteristics which may be determined based on the use of the pad 10, the characteristics of the resilient material, and the angle of the incline at which the pad 10 is constructed. In an exemplary embodiment, three sections 40, 50 and 60 are provided. Such sections may be formed by subdividing the main body 20 of the pad 10 into the desired sections. For example, in the embodiment shown, sections 40, 50 and 60 may be provided, with each section intended to give a different type of support for each portion of the body depending on the intended use of the inclined pad 10. The sections may vary in their longitudinal lengths also depending on the use of the inclined pad 10, for example, involving the age and physical dimensions of the subject patient, or due to other factors. For example, in the embodiment shown, section 40 is about 16″ long, section 50 is about 36″ long, and section 60 is about 20″ long, thereby making up a total length D3 of 72″.

In the embodiment shown, sections 40 and 50 are formed by a plurality of cuts 70 in a longitudinal direction as well as a plurality of cuts 72 in a lateral direction in section 40 and a plurality of cuts 74 in the lateral direction in section 50. These multiple cuts (or defined separations) 70, 72, 74, respectively, in the main body 20, form projections 42 and 52 in sections 40 and 50. Such cuts may be variously placed in virtually any displacement in body 20 and in a variety of relationships to inclined surface 30 of the pad 10. However, rectangular patterns have been shown to be useful for their ease of manufacture and effectiveness in selectively altering support characteristics of the main body 20. Generally, whenever a main body 20 is provided with a uniformity density and a predetermined change of thickness between thicker end 22 and thinner end 24, a desired indentation load deflection (“ILD”, discussed in more detail below) may be established in sections 40, 50 and 60 by changing from one section to another the disposition and nature (e.g., the spacing and number) of the plurality of parallel longitudinal cuts and lateral cuts in such main body 20.

Depending on the heights H1 and H2 of the thicker end 22 and the thinner end 24, respectively, and the particular engineered support being provided, any of the sections 40, 50, 60 may have projections formed therein. Conversely, as shown in the figures, specific sections may not have such projections, depending on the support to be provided.

In the embodiment shown, the lateral cuts 72 and 74 are disposed in perpendicular relationship to the longitudinal cuts 70 such that the longitudinal cuts 70 form right angles with the lateral cuts 72 and 74, thereby forming the rectangular projections 42, 52. The lateral cuts 72 are in closer proximity (i.e., closer spacing) to one another than are the lateral cuts 74, while the longitudinal cuts 70 are in the illustrated preferred embodiment, disposed at a constant distance or separation from one another. In such an embodiment, the projections 42, for example, may have cross-sectional shape of approximately 1″ by 2″ and may have a height of around 1.5″. Projections 52 in such an embodiment may possess cross-sectional measurements of 2″ by 2″ with the height of projection being around 1″. However, many different cut depths for the longitudinal cuts 70 and the lateral cuts 72, 74 may be used to form desired projection heights. Likewise, varying the spacing referenced above between adjacent cuts, varies the cross-sectional sizes of the resulting projections. As understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, variation of such projection cross-sectional sizes can be practiced in order to selectively vary support characteristics for the resulting pad.

Referring to FIGS. 2, 5, 6, a further optional feature of the inclined foam pad is illustrated. Channels 44, 54 are cut within the foam at the base of corresponding lateral cuts 72, 74, respectively, within the main body 20 of the pad 10. Such channels may assume various shapes and forms. A generally circular channel is useful in that it helps to dissipate moisture and heat build up and can also be easily fabricated. However, channels having different cross-sectional shapes may be used. The channels 44 are formed along lateral cuts 72 beneath the projections 44 (or adjacent the bases thereof) while the channels 54 are formed along the lateral channels 74 beneath the projections 52. The channels also intersect with longitudinal cuts 70.

Through the separation created by the cuts 70, 72, 74, the channels 44, 54 receive and pass heat and moisture from a patient or person resting upon the inclined pad 10, so that such this excess heat and moisture is dissipated from the user. This excess heat and moisture may enter channels 44, 54 by filtering through the body 20 of the pad 10, in particular the projections 42, 52. By whatever path or manner, dissipation removes air from around the user so as to carry off excess heat and moisture, thereby enhancing the comfort provided by the inclined pad 10, and improving the general health conditions of the user. Further, the channels 44, 54 cooperate with the cuts to promote independent action of the individual projections 42, 52 in response to loads being placed thereon, for improved resilient support of the user.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, channels 46 may also be placed at the base of longitudinal cuts 70. These channels 46 further facilitate dissipation of heat and moisture as described above. The channels 46 may also help to promote the independent action of the individual projections 42, 52 to the loads being placed on each individual projection. If the lateral cuts 72 and 74 are at different depths, then the longitudinal channels 46 may extend only the length of one individual section, such as either section 40 or section 50, or may extend through multiple sections of the body 20 of the pad 10.

For example, if end section 40 has deeper lateral cuts 72 than the lateral cuts 74 in section 50 of body 20, then the channels 46 may correspond to the same depth as the channels 44 within the body 20. However, in another embodiment, with lateral cuts 72 deeper then the lateral cuts 74, the longitudinal cuts 70 may not run as deep as the lateral cuts 72, or alternatively the channel 46 may be placed further away from the base of the longitudinal cut 70, so that the channels 46 run in the same plane as the channels 54 in the section 50 of the main body 20 of the pad 10. In such an embodiment, section 40 will have two planes of channels within the main body 20 which do not intersect. One plane would correspond to the longitudinal channels 46, while the other plane would correspond to lateral channels 44 running below the longitudinal channels 46. On the other hand, section 50 would have two sets of channels running in both a lateral direction and a longitudinal direction within a single plane. Within this plane, the longitudinal channels 46 running in the longitudinal direction would intersect the lateral channels 54 running in the lateral direction. Other combinations of channel placements are possible and may be determined based on the end use of the inclined pad 10.

Due to the fact that the surface 30 is inclined on the pad 10 relative to its base 26, longitudinal cuts 70 and the lateral cuts 72, 74 as well as any channels 44, or 54 which may be cut into the resilient material, must take into consideration the angle α of the inclined surface 30. For example, such information must be taken into account to obtain uniform sized projections 42, 52 within each section, if so desired. To accomplish this, the lateral cuts 72 and 74 may be cut at an angle along line 76 (see FIG. 5). Line 76 is angled at an angle θ as measured from a line “T” (perpendicular “T”) running perpendicular to the base surface 26 of the main body 20 as shown in FIG. 5. If all the cuts 72 are to be parallel to each other, then the angle α of the cut line 76 will be equal to the angle α of the inclined surface (which, in FIG. 5, is shown based on an imaginary plane “P” situated above the inclined surface 30 and running parallel to the “flat”, horizontal, bottom or base 26).

If all the lateral cuts 72 are to have the same depth, then the end points of the lateral cuts 72 are aligned along a plane 45. The plane 45 forms an angle β1 with plane 48 which runs parallel to the base surface 26 of the body 20 of the pad 10. Similarly, if lateral cuts 74 run parallel to each other and have the same depth of cut, then the lateral cuts 74 will align at the base of the cut along a plane 55 with the plane 55 forming an angle β2 with a plane 58 that runs parallel to the base surface 26 of the main body 20. In such an embodiment, angles β1 and β2 when combined will equal the angle α.

The projections 42, 52 can possess different shapes having different top view cross-sections and side view cross-sections as long as the shapes of the projections do not negate or severely lessen the benefits of the angle of incline of the pad 10. If certain projection designs warrant not having uniform shapes, such as those shown having rectangular top view cross-sections and generally rectangular side view cross sections, within each section 40, 50, 60 of the pad 10, and if the base of the lateral cuts 72 and lateral cuts 74 still align within a plane 45, then the angles β1 and β2 will not necessarily have to equal angle α.

Similarly, if the lateral cuts 72, 74 are not cut to form a right angle with the inclined surface 30, then the angle θ between the cut lines 76 and the perpendicular “T” also does not have to equal the angle α. In this manner, different shaped projections may be formed that are still useful for optimizing pressure dispersion in conjunction with practice of the inclined surface.

Plane 45 may also represent the longitudinal cut 70. For example, in such embodiments were it is desirable for the depth of the longitudinal cut 70 to equal the depth of the lateral cut 72, the longitudinal cut 70 (represented by plane 45) may be made at an angle. In some embodiments, the longitudinal cut 70 may be uniform in depth across two or more of sections 40, 50, 60, regardless of the depths of the lateral cuts 72, 74. In other embodiments, the depths of the longitudinal cuts may vary between the sections, such as shown in FIG. 5.

As shown in FIG. 5 in relation to FIG. 2, the longitudinal cuts 70 may be formed across the section 40 at a depth that corresponds to plane 45, while the cuts along section 50 may correspond to the plane 55. In such embodiments, the planes 45 and 55 are different depths but they still run parallel to each other. Further, as shown in FIG. 2, section 60 may have no specific projections extending therefrom, and thus may have no longitudinal cuts 70 therein. However, in some embodiments, if the height H2 of the thinner end 24 of the main body 20 is sufficient enough to permit the forming of beneficial projections, then section 60 may have appropriate projections to contribute to pressure dispersions, depending on the end use and the type of ailment which the inclined pad 10 may be used to address.

As shown in FIG. 4, the longitudinal and lateral channels may have generally constant diameters. Further, the lateral channels in any of the sections 40, 50, 60 may also have the same diameter. These circular channels 44, 54 may range for exemplary embodiments in diameter between 0.20″ and 0.50″. In the embodiment shown, the lateral channels 44 in the section 40 of the main body 20 of the pad 10 each have a diameter 43, which is larger than diameter 53 of the channel 54 within the section 50 of the main body 20 of the pad 10. Again, variations may be used for different end uses to particularly address specific needs and/or ailments.

As referenced above, the projections may be made into different shapes depending on the type of effect that is desired, as long as the effect of the angle of incline is not greatly reduced. In the embodiment shown, the projections 42, 52 are generally rectangular in their top view cross-sectional shape and side view cross-sectional shapes. The projections may optionally have beveled edges 90. In this manner, instead of the inclined surface 30 having a relatively flat surface (albeit at an angle), the beveled edges can create a more accommodating surface. However, the edges of the projections 42, 52 may alternatively have straight edges 92, as shown in phantom (i.e., dotted lines). In such manner, the projections may have straight edges on all sides of the projections 42, 52 on the surface 30 or may have beveled edges on all sides of the projections 42, 52 on the surface 30 or may be a combination of both.

Further, longitudinal cuts 70 and lateral cuts 72, 74 may have increased widths, to provide greater separation between the projections 42, 52. For example, in section 50, instead of having walls 57 of projections 52 in close proximity, the projections 52 may have walls 56 which are spaced further apart due to the width of the longitudinal cuts 74. These cuts may correspond to the diameter of a channel if one is disposed therein, or, the channel 54 may have a larger diameter than the distance between the walls 56 of the projections 52. Such wider cuts may be employed in both the longitudinal cuts 70 and the lateral cuts 72, 74, respectively. Again, the width of the cuts 70, 72, 74 may vary as long as the desired benefits gained from the angle of incline of the pad 10 are not significantly altered.

As stated above, the support characteristics defined by the sections 40, 50 and 60 of the inclined support surface 30 may be varied depending on the use of the pad and the type of ailment that is trying to be addressed. Based on such criteria, optimized pressure dispersions for a given patient profile or need, may be obtained based on the design of the sections 40, 50, 60. The designs of the projections are formed and influenced by the different longitudinal cuts 70 and the lateral cuts 72, 74 as well as the shape of the projections 42, 52 and the use of channels 44, 46, 54. Adjusting the support provided in any one of sections 40, 50, 60 has an effect on the support provided to the body of a user thereon and on the dispersion of pressure in each of the other sections. Such is particularly the case whenever the body lying on the pad 10 is supported in a prone position (either supine or lateral) over all three-support sections of the inclined support surface 30.

Thus, another aspect of the present subject matter is that the support provided by each section should be selected so as to define a desired pressure interface relationship between the user and all three sections, taking into account maintenance of the desired effects of the inclined surface. Collectively, this results in a system of support for an individual of optimized pressure dispersion while taking into account the type of ailment that the inclined surface is provided to address. The different support sections, 40, 50, 60 still have to function as a system to achieve such optimized dispersion of pressure while taking into account, and maintaining, the effects of the inclined surface on the user's body.

If the section 40 of the inclined surface 30 on the thicker end 22 of the body 20 is disposed adjacent to a user's head, section 50 would generally support the scapula, torso, sacrum and trochanter sections of an adult user of the pad 10, while section 60 would support the lower legs, feet and heels of such a patient. Alternatively, the orientation of the user on the pad may be changed so that the section 40 is associated with the user's feet and lower legs and section 60 is associated with the head, while section 50 continues to be associated generally with the user's midsection. In either configuration, a range of support characteristics may be provided which optimize pressure dispersion while taking into account the effects of the inclined surface on the user's body.

The different sections 40, 50, 60 can be optimized to provide a pad with a systemized support profile of indention load deflection (“ILD”), such as defined and described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,580,504, fully incorporated herein by reference. Using the indention load deflection characteristic, the presently preferred designed pad which incorporates the type of foam material used regarding its thickness, change in thickness (angle of incline), density and indention load deflection may be taken into consideration to develop preferred designs of projections to optimize the surface characteristics of the inclined pad 10. Taking into account such factors, the inclined surface 30 of the pad 10 with its sections of projections can generally be used to improve different ailments, the effects of which may be reduced by the inclined surface in combination with the use of the projections, to provide an engineered support for the user's body which surpasses other devices used to incline a resting user.

The pads 10 can be easily manufactured using a computer numerically controlled (“CNC”) machine to cut out the specific design of the pad from a block of the resilient material having specific measurements. In one embodiment, a block of resilient material which has a length corresponding to length D3 and a height in excess of H1+H2 can be used to form two inclined pads 10, whereby the CNC machine forms each of the two pads by cutting along a diagonal within the block so that two pads (oppositely nested together) are inversely formed out of the single block of resilient material. CNC machines may be also used to cut the longitudinal cuts 70 and the lateral cuts 72 and 74 within each section 40, 50, 60 of the pad 10 as needed. Thereby, the pads can be easily formed out of the resilient material, which forms the main body 20 of the pad 10. Thus, the present exemplary embodiments contribute to the efficient manufacture of the respective designs, to contribute to lower cost of the present subject matter.

It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present subject matter without departing from the scope thereof presently disclosed.