Title:
Mobility aid for use with toilet bowl fixture
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mobility aid for use in conjunction with a toilet bowl fixture includes first and second side frames, each side frame having front and rear legs and a rail connecting upper ends of the front and rear legs, and a transverse member having first and second opposite ends. When the lower ends of the legs rest on the floor of the water closet, the transverse member is substantially horizontal and is above the upper surface of the toilet bowl. The transverse member is pivotally attached at its first end to the rear leg of the first side frame and is pivotally attached at its second end to the rear leg of the second side frame, whereby the first and second side frames are pivotable relative to the transverse member between an unfolded disposition, in which the side frames are substantially parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the transverse member, and a folded disposition, in which the side frames are substantially parallel to each other and to the transverse member.



Inventors:
Bradshaw, Scott N. (Spokane, WA, US)
Linde, Bernard Edward Sunny (Deer Park, WA, US)
Linde, Lavaun L. (Deer Park, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/372763
Publication Date:
09/21/2006
Filing Date:
03/10/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUYNH, KHOA D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHERNOFF, VILHAUER, MCCLUNG & STENZEL, LLP (Portland, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A mobility aid for use in conjunction with a toilet bowl fixture disposed in a water closet and including a bowl having an upper surface at a height h relative to a horizontal floor of the water closet, the mobility aid comprising: first and second side frames, each side frame having front and rear legs and a rail connecting upper ends of the front and rear legs, and a transverse member having first and second opposite ends, the transverse member being at a location relative to the lower ends of the rear legs such that when the lower ends of the legs rest on the floor of the water closet, the transverse member is substantially horizontal and is at a height greater than h above the floor, and wherein the transverse member is pivotally attached at its first end to the rear leg of the first side frame and is pivotally attached at its second end to the rear leg of the second side frame, whereby the first and second side frames are pivotable relative to the transverse member between an unfolded disposition, in which the side frames are substantially parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the transverse member, and a folded disposition, in which the side frames are substantially parallel to each other and to the transverse member.

2. A mobility aid according to claim 1, wherein the rear leg of each frame is circular in cross section and the transverse member includes first and second parallel tubes, at the first and second ends respectively of the transverse member, threaded by the rear legs of the first and second side frames respectively.

3. A mobility aid according to claim 2, including a mechanism at each end of the transverse member to restrain the respective tubes against longitudinal movemement relative to the respective rear legs and to limit rotational movement of the respective tubes relative to the respective rear legs.

4. A mobility aid according to claim 2, including first and second releasable mechanisms, at the first and second ends respectively of the transverse member, for holding the first and second side frames respectively each at a selected orientation relative to the transverse member.

5. A mobility aid according to claim 1, wherein each leg includes an upper segment and a lower segment in telescoping engagement with the upper segment.

6. A mobility aid according to claim 5, wherein each leg includes a releasable mechanism for holding the lower segment at a selected longitudinal position relative to the upper segment.

7. A mobility aid according to claim 1, wherein the rail of each side frame includes a first portion that has first and second opposite ends and is concave downward, the first end of the first portion being substantially aligned with the rear leg of the frame, a second portion that has first and second opposite ends and is concave upward, the first end of the second portion being substantially aligned with the second end of the first portion, and a third portion that has first and second opposite ends and is concave downward, the first end of the third portion being substantially aligned with the second end of the second portion and the second end of the third portion being substantially aligned with the front leg of the frame.

8. A mobility aid according to claim 7, wherein the third portion is of smaller radius of curvature than the first portion and the second portion.

9. A mobility aid according to claim 1, comprising friction pads attached to the lower ends of the legs for resting on the floor.

10. A retainer mechanism for a bolt having a threaded part and a non-circular head, the retainer mechanism comprising a cylindrical block formed with a passage including a cylindrical portion for receiving the threaded part of the bolt and a non-circular part for receiving the head of the bolt, and a compression spring for engaging the head of bolt and urging the threaded part of the bolt to project from the block through the cylindrical portion of the passage.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/663,437 filed Mar. 17, 2005, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a mobility aid for use in conjunction with a toilet bowl fixture.

A water closet typically contains a toilet bowl fixture that includes a toilet bowl proper and is located close to, and projects from, a wall of the water closet. Some users of toilet bowls experience difficulty in lowering themselves to use the toilet bowl or in standing up after using the toilet bowl and for this reason in places of public accommodation, a grab bar may be attached to a wall adjacent the toilet bowl fixture for the user to grasp while rising from a seated position to a standing position or lowering from a standing position to a seated position. Sometimes, there is only one grab bar, on one side of the toilet bowl fixture, and this might not be sufficient for some users. Moreover, most private homes have no grab bars or other facilities to assist a person who experiences difficulty in rising from a seated position to a standing position.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a mobility aid for use in conjunction with a toilet bowl fixture disposed in a water closet and including a bowl having an upper surface at a height h relative to a horizontal floor of the water closet, the mobility aid comprising first and second side frames, each side frame having front and rear legs and a rail connecting upper ends of the front and rear legs, and a transverse member having first and second opposite ends, the transverse member being at a location relative to the lower ends of the rear legs such that when the lower ends of the legs rest on the floor of the water closet, the transverse member is substantially horizontal and is at a height greater than h above the floor, and wherein the transverse member is pivotally attached at its first end to the rear leg of the first side frame and is pivotally attached at its second end to the rear leg of the second side frame, whereby the first and second side frames are pivotable relative to the transverse member between an unfolded disposition, in which the side frames are substantially parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the transverse member, and a folded disposition, in which the side frames are substantially parallel to each other and to the transverse member.

In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a retainer mechanism for a bolt having a threaded part and a non-circular head, the retainer mechanism comprising a cylindrical block formed with a passage including a cylindrical portion for receiving the threaded part of the bolt and a non-circular part for receiving the head of the bolt, and a compression spring for engaging the head of bolt and urging the threaded part of the bolt to project from the block through the cylindrical portion of the passage.

In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention there is provided the new and ornamental design of a side frame for a mobility aid as shown in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the invention, and to show how the same may be carried into effect, reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying drawings, in which

FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a mobility aid embodying the present invention positioned for use in conjunction with a conventional toilet bowl fixture,

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the mobility aid,

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a bolt retainer block embodying the present invention, and

FIG. 3B is a side elevation of the bolt retainer block.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, the conventional toilet bowl fixture 10 is attached to the floor of a water closet adjacent to a rear wall of the water closet and projects about 75 cm from the rear wall. The toilet bowl fixture includes the toilet bowl 12 proper and a shelf structure 16 that extends to the rear of the toilet bowl. The toilet bowl has a rim that is typically at a height of about 38 cm above the floor. A tank 18 rests on the shelf structure and may be attached to the rear wall of the water closet. The front of the toilet bowl may be about 54 cm forward of the front wall of the tank. The conventional toilet seat 20 and toilet bowl cover 24 are attached to the shelf structure by fittings that allow the seat and cover to pivot relative to the toilet bowl about an axis that may be about 9 cm forward of the front wall of the tank. Accordingly, the seat and cover are able to pivot between a lowered position, shown in FIG. 1, in which the seat rests on the bowl and the cover rests on the seat, and a raised position in which the cover leans against the toilet tank in a state of stable equilibrium and the seat leans against the cover in a state of stable equilibrium.

The mobility aid shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 may be used in conjunction with the conventional toilet bowl fixture 10 to assist a user who experiences difficulty in lowering from a standing position to a seated position or in rising from a seated position to a standing position. The mobility aid 40 comprises two opposite side frames 44A, 44B and a transverse hinge assembly 48. Each side frame 44 is made of metal tube and has the general configuration of an inverted U, with front and rear legs 52, 54 and a rail 56 connecting the upper ends of the legs. Each leg is provided at its lower end with a foot 58 of rubber or similar material to protect the lower ends of the legs and for other reasons that will become apparent. Each leg is of telescoping construction, having an upper segment 60 that fits slidingly in a lower segment 62. A spring-loaded snap button 66 attached to the lower end of the upper segment 60 enters one of several holes 68 in the lower segment 62 to permit adjustment of the effective length of the leg. A horizontal brace 72 is connected between the two upper leg segments 60 of each side frame in order to prevent the legs from splaying.

The transverse hinge assembly 48 comprises two short lengths of tube 76A, 76B threaded by the upper segments 60 of the two rear legs 54A, 54B of the side frames 44A, 44B respectively, and a transverse tube 80 secured at its two opposite ends to the tubes 76A, 76B respectively. Each tube 76 is formed with a slot 82 extending around approximately 90° of the circumfence of the tube and with a circular hole 84. A bolt whose head is located inside the upper tube segment using a retainer block or leg insert, which is described with reference to FIGS. 3A and 3B, extends through a circular hole in the upper segment 60 of each rear leg 54 and through the slot 82 in the corresponding tube 76. A nut 86 is applied to the threaded portion of the bolt and tightened. In this manner, the tube 76 is retained against axial movement relative to the upper tube segment 60 and rotational movement of the tube 76 relative to the segment 60 is limited to approximately 90°, between a position in which the tube 80 is approximately perpendicular to the plane of the side frame and a position in which the tube 80 is approximately parallel to the side frame. The nut 86 is preferably a wing nut or other nut that can be easily turned by hand, although this feature of the nut is not shown in the drawings.

The head of the bolt is held in a retainer block or leg insert. Referring to FIG. 3, a generally cylindrical retainer block 90 is formed with a diametrical cylindrical passage 92 having a hexagonal countersink 94 at one end for receiving the head of the bolt. The bolt is inserted in the passage, with the threaded portion of the bolt projecting through the cylindrical passage and the head of the bolt in the hexagonal countersink. A compression spring (not shown) is placed in the countersink against the head of the bolt and by finger pressure the bolt is forced back into the passage against the resistance of the spring. The retainer block can then be installed in the tube segment 60, before the upper tube segment 60 is fitted in the lower tube segment 62, and positioned so that the threaded portion of the bolt projects through a circular hole in the wall of the leg and through the slot 82. The nut 86 is applied to the bolt and can be tightened to clamp the tube 76 against the leg 54. In the event that the nut is removed from the bolt, the retainer block and compression spring protect against the possibility that a user will inadvertently push the bolt into the interior of the leg 54 so that it falls down inside the leg 54.

The tube segments 60 are provided with respective spring-loaded snap buttons 88 that can enter the holes 84 in the corresponding tubes 76 when the tube 80 is perpendicular to the corresponding side frame. The purpose of the snap buttons 88 is to prevent inadvertent folding of the mobility aid from the unfolded configuration to the folded configuration in the event that the nuts 86 are not properly tightened onto the respective bolts.

The hinged connection between the side frames provides the mobility aid with a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration. In the unfolded configuration, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the two side frames 44 are substantially parallel to each other and the transverse tube 80 is substantially perpendicular to the side frames. In the folded configuration (not shown), the transverse tube 80 is substantially parallel to the two side frames 44.

The transverse tube 80 includes a straight segment and two curved segments connecting the straight segment to the tubes 76 respectively. The curved segments allow the straight segment to be offset horizontally from the tubes 76, and this allows the side frame 44A, for example, to be turned to a position in which the front leg 52 of the frame 44A is to the rear of the rear leg 54 of the frame 44B and the frame 44B can then be turned to a position in which it is substantially parallel to the straight segment of the transverse tube 80. If the transverse tube 80 were not offset horizontally from the tubes 76, engagement of the front leg 52 of the side frame 44A with the transverse tube 80 would prevent turning of the side frame 44B to a position in which it is substantially parallel to the transverse tube 80.

The mobility aid is used in conjunction with a particular toilet bowl fixture by placing the toilet bowl cover in its lowered position and adjusting the effective lengths of the legs 52, 54 using the snap buttons 66 so that the transverse tube 80 will be located slightly above the shelf 16 when the feet 58 rest on the floor of the water closet. The user pivots the side frames 44A, 44B to the unfolded configuration, in which the snap buttons 88 engage the holes 84, and then places the mobility aid so that the transverse tube 80 is behind the pivot axis of the toilet bowl cover. The toilet bowl cover 24 can then be raised and the mobility aid will not interfere with raising of the cover or prevent the cover from resting against the toilet tank. All four legs of the mobility aid rest on the floor and friction between the rubber feet 58 and the floor resists sliding of the mobility aid. Further, the mobility aid may be placed so that the transverse tube 80 engages the front wall of the toilet tank and prevents rearward movement of the mobility aid. Accordingly the mobility aid provides a sturdy support that the user may rely on both when lowering from a standing position to a seated position and when rising from the seated position to the standing position. Both when lowering and rising, the user may grasp the base 56 of each side frame and use upper body strength to assist in the desired maneuver.

Instead of the retainer block being a rigid piece of material formed by machining or injection molding, it could be in two parts that are hinged or snapped together. For example, the retainer block could be formed from two semicylindrical bodies, the first formed with a cylindrical through-hole perpendicular to its flat surface and the second with a blind hexagonal recess in its flat surface. The compression spring is placed in the blind hexagonal recess, the head of the bolt is placed against the spring, and the flat surfaces of the two bodies are brought into contact with the threaded portion of the bolt extending through the cylindrical through-hole. The retainer block then appears similar to that shown in FIG. 3 except that there is no countersink in the cylindrical surface of the block. By finger pressure, the bolt is forced back into the passage against the resistance of the spring. The retainer block is then installed in the tube segment 60 so that the threaded portion of the bolt projects through the circular hole in the wall of the leg and through the slot 82 and the nut is applied to the bolt and tightened.

It will be appreciated that the mobility aid may be left in position at the user's home for an extended period of time. The user may conveniently take the mobility aid with him when he goes on a trip, since it can easily be folded and placed in the trunk of a car.

It will be seen from FIG. 2 that in the preferred embodiment of the invention the rail 56 of the side frame 44 is not straight or of uniform curvature but has three portions of different curvature, which not only provide a distinct and pleasing appearance but also provide improved functionality. Thus, the rail 56 includes a first portion 56A of relatively large radius of curvature and concave downwards, a second portion 56B also of relatively large radius of curvature but concave upwards, and a third portion 56C of smaller radius of curvature and concave downwards. This configuration provides support surfaces at two different heights and also provides a sloping surface against which the user can push in the final stage of rising from a seated position to a standing position.

Preferably, the rail 56 of each side frame is provided with a sleeve of resilient synthetic polymer material, such as foam, which cushions the user's hand from the hard surface of the metal tube from which the frame is made.

Use of circular section tube in the transverse hinge assembly 48 provides adequate resistance to twisting of the transverse hinge assembly. However, the invention is not restricted to any particular cross-sectional form of the tube 80 and a rectangular section tube may be used instead of the illustrated circular section tube. A rectangular section tube oriented with its longer cross-section dimension vertical may be provide increased resistance to twisting should that be necessary or desirable while keeping the horizontal dimension of the transverse hinge assembly sufficiently small that it will not interfere with positioning of the transverse tube behind the cover of a typical toilet bowl. Further, the manner in which the transverse tube 80 is connected to the side frames may be different from that illustrated in the drawings.

It will be appreciated that the invention is not restricted to the particular embodiment that has been described, and that variations may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims and equivalents thereof. For example, it is not essential that the rail 56 of each side frame should have the configuration shown in the drawings. The rails may, for example, be of uniform curvature over the entire extent from the tops of the two legs or, alternatively, the portion 56B could be straight and tangential to the portions 56A and 56C instead of being curved. Unless the context indicates otherwise, a reference in a claim to the number of instances of an element, be it a reference to one instance or more than one instance, requires at least the stated number of instances of the element but is not intended to exclude from the scope of the claim a structure or method having more instances of that element than stated. If the word “comprises” or “includes,” or a derivative of either of these words is used in this specification, including the claims, it is used in an inclusive, not exclusive or exhaustive, sense. Thus, for example, a statement that a component comprises first and second elements is not intended to exclude the possibility of the component including one or more additional elements.