Title:
ADJUSTABLE TWO-LEGGED STILT WITH CATCH MECHANISM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A two-legged stilt includes a support frame, a foot platform, and a base. The support frame includes first and second parallel leg supports, each having upper and lower sections that are coupled and slide relative to one another whereby a length of each leg support may be varied. The leg supports are pivotably mounted to foot platform and the base for canting of the stilt. Each leg support includes a spring-biased catch that secures the respective leg support sections against relative movement, whereby the length of the leg support may be fixed. A release member is operatively connected to each catch for controlling adjustment of the lengths of the two leg supports while the stilt is worn.



Inventors:
Novara, Richard (Charlotte, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/277329
Publication Date:
02/01/2007
Filing Date:
03/23/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B25/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MATHEW, FENN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TILLMAN WRIGHT, PLLC (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stilt, comprising: (a) a support frame, comprising, (i) a first leg support having a first upper leg support section and a first lower leg support section, the first upper leg support section being coupled with the first lower leg support section for movement relative there between, whereby a length of the first leg support may be varied, and (ii) a second leg support positioned in parallel relation to the first leg support and having a second upper leg support section and a second lower leg support section, the second upper leg support section being coupled with the second lower leg support section for movement relative there between, whereby a length of the second leg support may be varied; (b) a foot platform for receiving and supporting a foot of a person for use of the stilt, the first upper leg support section being connected to the foot platform for rotational movement about a first upper pivot axis, the second upper leg support section being connected to the foot platform for rotational movement about a second upper pivot axis, the second upper pivot axis being disposed in parallel relation to the first upper pivot axis; (c) a base for engaging and supporting the stilt upon a floor, the first lower leg support section being connected to the base for rotational movement about a first lower pivot axis, the second lower leg support section being connected to the base for rotational movement about a second lower pivot axis, the second lower pivot axis being disposed in parallel relation to the first lower pivot axis, the first upper pivot axis, and the second upper pivot axis; and (d) a resiliently-biased catch securing the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section, whereby the length of the first leg support is fixed.

2. The stilt of claim 1, wherein the catch comprises a rod and wherein the first upper leg support section and the first lower leg support section include corresponding openings through which the rod extends in securing the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section.

3. The stilt of claim 2, wherein the first upper leg support section and the first lower leg support section include a plurality of corresponding openings through which the rod may extend in securing the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section, whereby the first leg support may be fixed in different respective lengths.

4. The stilt of claim 1, wherein each of the leg support sections is tubular.

5. The stilt of claim 1, wherein the first lower leg support section is received within the first upper leg support section.

6. The stilt of claim 5, wherein the second lower leg support section is received within the second upper leg support section.

7. The stilt of claim 6, wherein the movement between the lower leg support sections and the upper leg support sections is sliding movement.

8. The stilt of claim 1, wherein the first and second upper leg support sections are coupled with the first and second lower leg support sections for sliding movement relative there between.

9. The stilt of claim 1, further comprising a pre-tensioned cable connected to the resiliently-biased catch for controlling movement of the resiliently-biased catch.

10. The stilt of claim 9, further comprising a flexible jacket in concentric surrounding relation to the cable, wherein the cable is capable of independent movement relative to the flexible jacket.

11. The stilt of claim 1, further comprising a release member movable between first and second positions, the release member being operatively connected to the resiliently-biased catch for controlling movement of the resiliently-biased catch with movement of the release member between the first and second positions.

12. The stilt of claim 11, further comprising a pre-tensioned cable having a first end connected to the resiliently-biased catch and having a second end connected to the release member, wherein the pre-tensioned cable facilitates operative communication between the resiliently-biased catch and the release member.

13. The stilt of claim 1, further comprising a calf support extending from the first upper leg support section in a direction away from the base, the calf support for providing stability to a person using the stilt.

14. The stilt of claim 13, wherein the foot platform includes opposed ends and opposed sides each side having an extent greater than the opposed ends, and wherein the calf support is disposed adjacent one of the ends of the foot platform so as to extend adjacent the back of a leg of a person using the stilt.

15. The stilt of claim 13, wherein the foot platform includes opposed ends and opposed sides each side having an extent greater than the opposed ends, and wherein the calf support is disposed adjacent one of the sides of the foot platform so as to extend adjacent the side of a leg of a person using the stilt.

16. The stilt of claim 15, further comprising a release member movable between first and second positions, the release member being operatively connected to the resiliently-biased catch for controlling movement of the resiliently-biased catch with movement of the release member between the first and second positions, the release member being mounted proximate a terminal end of the calf support distal the foot platform so as to permit convenient operation of the release member by a person using the stilt.

17. The stilt of claim 16, further comprising a pre-tensioned cable having a first end connected to the resiliently-biased catch and having a second end connected to the release member, wherein the pre-tensioned cable facilitates operative communication between the resiliently-biased catch and the release member.

18. The stilt of claim 17, wherein a portion of the pre-tensioned cable extends within and is sheathed by the calf support.

19. A stilt, comprising: (a) a support frame, comprising, (i) a first leg support having a first upper leg support section and a first elongate lower leg support section, the first upper leg support section being coupled with the first lower leg support section for movement relative there between, whereby a length of the first leg support may be varied, and (ii) a second leg support positioned in parallel relation to the first leg support and having a second upper leg support section and a second lower leg support section, the second upper leg support section being coupled with the second lower leg support section for movement relative there between, whereby a length of the second leg support may be varied; (b) a foot platform for receiving and supporting a foot of a person for use of the stilt, the first upper leg support section being connected to the foot platform for rotational movement about a first upper pivot axis, the second upper leg support section being connected to the foot platform for rotational movement about a second upper pivot axis, the second upper pivot axis being disposed in parallel relation to the first upper pivot axis; (c) a base for engaging and supporting the stilt upon a floor, the first lower leg support section being connected to the base for rotational movement about a first lower pivot axis, the second lower leg support section being connected to the base for rotational movement about a second lower pivot axis, the second lower pivot axis being disposed in parallel relation to the first lower pivot axis, the first upper pivot axis, and the second upper pivot axis; (d) a first catch movable between, (i) an engaged position in which the first catch secures the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section, whereby the length of the first leg support is fixed, and (ii) a disengaged position in which the first catch does not secure the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section; (e) a second catch movable between, (i) an engaged position in which the second catch secures the second upper leg support section against movement relative to the second lower leg support section, whereby the length of the second leg support is fixed, and (ii) a disengaged position in which the second catch does not secure the second upper leg support section against movement relative to the second lower leg support section; and (f) a release member movable between first and second positions, the release member being operatively connected to the first catch for moving the first catch between the engaged and disengaged positions with movement of the release member between the first and second positions, and the release member further being operatively connected to the second catch for moving the second catch between the engaged and disengaged positions with movement of the release member between the first and second positions.

20. The stilt of claim 19, wherein the release member is operatively connected to the first catch by a first pre-tensioned cable and wherein the release member is operatively connected to the second catch by a second pre-tensioned cable, and wherein the first pre-tensioned cable is concentrically disposed within a first flexible jacket and the second pre-tensioned cable is concentrically disposed within a second flexible jacket.

Description:

I. CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a nonprovisional of, and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to, each of: Novara U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/594,256, filed Mar. 23, 2005; and Novara U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/596,772, filed Oct. 20, 2005. The entire disclosure of each of these patent applications is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

II. COPYRIGHT STATEMENT

All of the material in this patent document is subject to copyright protection under the copyright laws of the United States and of other countries. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

III. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Generally, it is known to provide a stilt that enables a person to undertake construction in high places that otherwise would be hard to reach without vertical assistance. A representative conventional stilt is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,517,586 to Lin, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

Another conventional stilt similar to that of Lin, and sometimes referred to as a “dry wall stilt,” is shown in FIG. 1. The stilt of FIG. 1 comprises a support frame, a foot platform, and a base, all of which form a generally parallel, quadrilateral structure with the support frame forming the sides and the foot platform and the base respectively forming the top and bottom. The support frame includes a first leg support and a second leg support positioned in parallel relation to the first leg support. The first leg support has a first upper leg support section coupled with a first lower leg support section. Similarly, the second leg support has a second upper leg support section coupled with a second lower leg support section. The upper and lower leg support sections are coupled such that relative movement may occur there between to provide for varying lengths of the leg supports and, therefore, varying heights of the stilt.

Connecting plates, a center pin, and external spring members are arranged on the support frame to provide for canting of the support frame. Such canting allows a person using a pair of stilts to walk relatively naturally and comfortably while wearing the stilts.

The upper and lower leg support sections have openings formed therein for receipt of a catch device to fix the length of the leg supports and secure the upper leg support sections against movement relative to the lower leg support sections. Conventional catch devices include a bolt and a screw. With a conventional stilt as shown in FIG. 1, a user must remove the stilt before adjusting the lengths of the leg supports. Unfortunately, such manual length adjustment is cumbersome and time consuming.

In addition, stilts are known that provide for adjustment of the height of the stilts while the stilts are used, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,415,063 discloses such a representative stilt. However, such stilts do not include canting of the leg supports relative to the foot platform and the base such that a person using the stilts may experience more natural motion when walking or otherwise moving while wearing the stilts. Rather, the leg supports of each such stilt are mounted in fixed disposition relative to the base and foot platform and, thus, provide a rigid movement similar to the sensation of walking on blocks mounted to the soles of one's feet.

Accordingly, it is believed that it would be advantageous to have a two-legged stilt similar to that of FIG. 1, but in which the lengths of the leg supports can be adjusted “on the fly” while a person is using the stilt.

Additionally, a conventional two-legged stilt as shown in FIG. 1 includes a calf support that is mounted to the support frame and which extends vertically from support frame in a direction away from the base. The calf support is disposed adjacent one side of the foot platform so that the calf support extends adjacent the side of a leg of a person using the stilt. It is believed that it would be advantageous to provide a stilt having a calf support that extends adjacent the back of the leg of the person wearing the stilt rather than to a side of the leg of the person wearing the stilt. It is believed that such a stilt may provide for a more comfortable or natural feel during use of the stilt. It further is believed that such a stilt may reduce a torque that otherwise arises in conventional stilts during walking, especially since the upper portion of the calf support typically is secured to the side of the leg by a band or other attachment member in such conventional stilts.

IV. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes many aspects and features. A stilt that embodies one or more such aspects or features includes a support frame, a foot platform and a base that, collectively, generally form a parallelogram. The support frame comprises a first leg support having a first upper leg support section and a first elongate lower leg support section. The first upper leg support section is coupled with the first lower leg support section for movement relative there between, whereby a length of the first leg support may be varied.

The support frame further comprises a second leg support positioned in parallel relation to the first leg support and having a second upper leg support section and a second lower leg support section. The second upper leg support section is coupled with the second lower leg support section for movement relative there between, whereby a length of the second leg support may be varied.

The foot platform receives and supports a foot of a person for use of the stilt. The first upper leg support section is connected to the foot platform for rotational movement about a first upper pivot axis. The second upper leg support section is connected to the foot platform for rotational movement about a second upper pivot axis, the second upper pivot axis being disposed in parallel relation to the first upper pivot axis. The base engages and supports the stilt upon a floor. The first lower leg support section is connected to the base for rotational movement about a first lower pivot axis. The second lower leg support section is connected to the base for rotational movement about a second lower pivot axis, the second lower pivot axis being disposed in parallel relation to the first lower pivot axis, the first upper pivot axis, and the second upper pivot axis.

In an aspect of the invention, a two-legged stilt in accordance with the aforementioned construction further includes a design that enables a person to adjust the height of the stilt “on the fly” while the stilt is being used. With respect to this aspect, a feature of the stilt includes a spring-biased catch that secures the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section, whereby the length of the first leg support may be fixed. More particularly, the stilt preferably has a catch that comprises a rod and the first upper leg support section and the first lower leg support section include corresponding openings through which the rod extends to secure the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section. In a preferred embodiment, the first upper leg support section and the first lower leg support section include a plurality of corresponding openings through which the rod may extend to fix the length of the first leg support at different respective lengths.

In another feature of this aspect, the two-legged stilt includes a first catch movable between: (1) an engaged position, in which the first catch secures the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section, whereby the length of the first leg support is fixed; and (2) a disengaged position, in which the first catch does not secure the first upper leg support section against movement relative to the first lower leg support section.

With further regard to this feature, the two-legged stilt also includes a second catch movable between: (1) an engaged position, in which the second catch secures the second upper leg support section against movement relative to the second lower leg support section, whereby the length of the second leg support is fixed; and (2) a disengaged position, in which the second catch does not secure the second upper leg support section against movement relative to the second lower leg support section.

In accordance with this feature, the two-legged stilt further comprises a release member that is movable between first and second positions, the release member being operatively connected to the first catch for moving the first catch between the engaged and disengaged positions with movement of the release member between the first and second positions, and the release member further being operatively connected to the second catch for moving the second catch between the engaged and disengaged positions with movement of the release member between the first and second positions. Preferably, the release member is operatively connected to a catch via a cabling system that includes one or more pre-tensioned, jacketed cables.

In still yet another aspect of the invention, a two-legged stilt in accordance with the aforementioned construction further includes a design in which a calf support extends adjacent the back of the leg of the person wearing the stilt rather than to a side of the leg of the person wearing the stilt.

In another aspect of the invention, each leg support of a two-legged stilt in accordance with the aforementioned construction further includes spring members for biasing of the leg support section apart. The spring members preferably comprise compression springs.

In yet another aspect of the invention, a two-legged stilt in accordance with the aforementioned construction further includes internally located spring members that serve to bias the two-legged stilt into a rectangular configuration in which the two leg supports extend generally orthogonal to the base and foot platform. The spring members preferably comprise torsion springs, each disposed at a coupling of a leg support section to either the base or the foot platform. The two-legged stilt optionally may not include external spring members (such as those illustrated in FIG. 1).

In addition to the aforementioned aspects and features of the present invention, it should be noted that the present invention further includes the various possible combinations of such aspects and features.

V. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further aspects, features, embodiments, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description with reference to the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional stilt;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a stilt in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a side elevation view of the stilt of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 3A and 3B are side cross-sectional views of the stilt of FIG. 2 taken along the line 3-3;

FIG. 4A and 4B are side cross-sectional views of an alternative embodiment of the stilt of FIG. 2 taken along the line 3-3, wherein compression springs are included within the leg supports;

FIG. 5A is a side perspective view of a release member in an engaged position;

FIG. 5B is a side perspective view of the release member in a disengaged position;

FIG. 6 is an alternative embodiment of the stilt of FIG. 2 wherein a calf support is disposed adjacent a back end of a foot platform;

FIGS. 7-10 illustrate a stilt in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 11A-11D illustrate various views of an exemplary torsion spring of the stilt of FIGS. 7-10; and

FIG. 12 illustrates a torsion spring located within the stilt of FIGS. 7-10 at a coupling of an upper support leg section to the foot platform.

VI. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As a preliminary matter, it will readily be understood by one having ordinary skill in the relevant art (“Ordinary Artisan”) that the present invention has broad utility and application. Furthermore, any embodiment discussed and identified as being “preferred” is considered to be part of a best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention. Other embodiments also may be discussed for additional illustrative purposes in providing a full and enabling disclosure of the present invention. Moreover, many embodiments, such as adaptations, variations, modifications, and equivalent arrangements, will be implicitly disclosed by the embodiments described herein and fall within the scope of the present invention.

Accordingly, while the present invention is described herein in detail in relation to one or more embodiments, it is to be understood that this disclosure is illustrative and exemplary of the present invention, and is made merely for the purposes of providing a full and enabling disclosure of the present invention. The detailed disclosure herein of one or more embodiments is not intended, nor is to be construed, to limit the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention, which scope is to be defined by the claims and the equivalents thereof. It is not intended that the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention be defined by reading into any claim a limitation found herein that does not explicitly appear in the claim itself.

Thus, for example, any sequence(s) and/or temporal order of steps of various processes or methods that are described herein are illustrative and not restrictive. Accordingly, it should be understood that, although steps of various processes or methods may be shown and described as being in a sequence or temporal order, the steps of any such processes or methods are not limited to being carried out in any particular sequence or order, absent an indication otherwise. Indeed, the steps in such processes or methods generally may be carried out in various different sequences and orders while still falling within the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention is to be defined by the appended claims rather than the description set forth herein.

Additionally, it is important to note that each term used herein refers to that which the Ordinary Artisan would understand such term to mean based on the contextual use of such term herein. To the extent that the meaning of a term used herein—as understood by the Ordinary Artisan based on the contextual use of such term—differs in any way from any particular dictionary definition of such term, it is intended that the meaning of the term as understood by the Ordinary Artisan should prevail.

Furthermore, it is important to note that, as used herein, “a” and “an” each generally denotes “at least one,” but does not exclude a plurality unless the contextual use dictates otherwise. Thus, reference to “a picnic basket having an apple” describes “a picnic basket having at least one apple” as well as “a picnic basket having apples.” In contrast, reference to “a picnic basket having a single apple” describes “a picnic basket having only one apple.”

When used herein to join a list of items, “or” denotes “at least one of the items,” but does not exclude a plurality of items of the list. Thus, reference to “a picnic basket having cheese or crackers” describes “a picnic basket having cheese without crackers”, “a picnic basket having crackers without cheese”, and “a picnic basket having both cheese and crackers.” Finally, when used herein to join a list of items, “and” denotes “all of the items of the list.” Thus, reference to “a picnic basket having cheese and crackers” describes “a picnic basket having cheese, wherein the picnic basket further has crackers,” as well as describes “a picnic basket having crackers, wherein the picnic basket further has cheese.”

Referring now to the drawings, in which like numerals represent like components throughout the several views, the preferred embodiments of the present invention are next described. The following description of the preferred embodiment(s) is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses.

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of a stilt 10 in accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention, and FIG. 2B is a side elevation view of the stilt 10 of FIG. 2A. The stilt 10 comprises a support frame 12, a foot platform 26, and a base 32, which together form a generally parallel, quadrilateral structure with the support frame 12 forming the sides of the quadrilateral structure and the foot platform 26 and the base 32 forming the top and bottom, respectively. Connecting plates 33, a center pin 35 and spring members 37 are arranged on the support frame 12 to provide for flexible canting of the support frame 12.

The support frame 12 includes a first leg support 14 and a second leg support 20 positioned in parallel relation to each other. The first leg support 14 has a first upper leg support section 16 that is coupled with a first lower leg support section 18. Similarly, the second leg support 20 has a second upper leg support section 22 that is coupled with a second lower leg support section 24. The upper and lower leg support sections 16, 18 and 20, 22 in each leg support 14, 20 are coupled such that relative movement may occur there between to provide for varying heights of the leg supports 14, 20.

In the illustrated embodiment, each of the leg support sections 16, 18, 20, 22 is tubular. Each of the leg support sections 16, 18, 20, 22 has opposed sides and opposed ends, each of the sides being of greater lateral extent than each of the ends. It will be apparent to the Ordinary Artisan that other non-tubular constructions may be utilized for the leg support sections 16, 18, 20, 22. In particular, any shape that allows for relative movement between the corresponding upper and lower leg support sections 16, 18 and 20, 22 may be used. For example, the leg support sections may be channel-shaped.

In the present embodiment, the lower leg support sections 18, 24 are received within the respective upper leg support sections 16, 22 for relative movement there between. The leg support sections 16, 18, 20, 22 are arranged such that each of the first leg support sections 16, 18 has a side that faces a corresponding side of each of the second leg support sections 20, 22. Such sides may be referred to hereinafter as the “inner sides.”

The foot platform 26 is preferably a flat, plane-like structure that is generally rectangular in shape with opposed ends and opposed sides. One end of the platform 26 is particularly adapted for receiving the heel of a user's foot and will be generally referred to hereinafter as the “back end,” while the opposed end of the platform 26 is particularly adapted for receiving the toes of the user and will be generally referred to hereinafter as the “front end”. A toe strap 66 with a toe strap buckle is preferably installed on the front end of the foot platform 26, and an ankle strap 68 with an ankle strap buckle is preferably installed on the back end of each foot platform 26. The foot platform 26 also has a heel rest 70 disposed at its back end.

The first upper leg support section 16 is connected to the foot platform 26 at or near its back end by a connection member 39 that provides for rotational movement about a first upper pivot axis 28, which is formed at the connection point between the first upper leg support section 16 and the foot platform 26. It will be apparent to the Ordinary Artisan that any connection member 39 that allows for rotational movement about the pivot axis 28 may be used to connect the first upper leg support section 16 to the foot platform 26. Suitable examples may include, but are not limited to, a screw, a pivot pin, and the like. The second upper leg support section 22 is similarly connected at or near the front end of the foot platform 26 for rotational movement about a second upper pivot axis 30. The second upper pivot axis is preferably substantially parallel to the first upper pivot axis 28.

The base 32 engages and supports the stilt 10 on the floor. The base 32 is generally rectangular in shape with opposed ends and opposed sides. A back end corresponds with the back end of the foot platform 26 and a front end corresponds with the front end of the foot platform 26. The first lower leg support section 18 is connected to the base 32 at or near the back end of the base 32 by a connection member that provides for rotational movement about a first lower pivot axis 34. Similarly, the second lower leg support section 24 is connected to the base 32 at or near the front end of the base 32 by a connection member that provides for rotational movement about a second lower pivot axis 36. The second lower pivot axis 36 is preferably substantially parallel to the first lower pivot axis 34, the first upper pivot axis 28 and the second upper pivot axis 30.

A tubular calf support 54 having a proximal upper end and a distal lower end is mounted to the first upper leg support section 16. From the first upper leg support section 16, the calf support 54 extends generally upwardly in a direction away from the base 32. Further, the calf support 54 is preferably disposed adjacent one side of the foot platform 26 so that the calf support 54 extends adjacent the side of a leg of a person using the stilt 10. A calf strap or calf strap assembly 72 is mounted at the proximal upper end of the calf support 54 for releasably fixing the calf support 54 to the leg of a person using the stilt 10.

A release member 48 is mounted near the proximal upper end of the calf support 54. The release member 48 may be connected to the calf support 54 in any manner that allows for movement of the release member 48 between at least a first position and a second position. In the illustrated embodiment, the release member 48 is a lever pivotably connected to the calf support 48 with a bolt 51.

One housing 64 is mounted to the inner side of each of the upper leg support sections 16, 22. The housings 64 may have a three-dimensional box-like shape with a first end and a second end, four sides, an outside surface and an inside surface. The housing 64 of the first leg support 14 and the contents thereof will be described herein. In the present embodiment, the housing 64 of the second leg support 20 and the contents thereof are the same as that of the first leg support 14. However, it will be apparent to the Ordinary Artisan that the housings 64 and the contents thereof do not have to be the same for the first and second leg supports 14, 20.

The first end of each housing 64 is open and is mounted to a respective upper leg support section 16, 22. Each housing 64 encloses a spring-biased catch 38, which is utilized to control the relative movement between the first upper leg support section 16 and the first lower leg support section 18. Each catch 38 is movable between an engaged position, wherein the catch 38 secures a respective upper leg support section 16, 22 against movement relative to the corresponding lower leg support section 18, 22, and a disengaged position, wherein the catch 38 does not secure the respective upper leg support section 16, 22 against movement relative to the corresponding lower leg support section 18, 24.

The second end of each of the housings 64 is connected to one end of a flexible jacket 46, which extends away from the housing 64 and is connected at its other end to a mounting platform 57 located near the release member 48. A portion of each of the flexible jackets 46 extends within, and is sheathed by, the calf support 54, which has openings formed therein for receiving and releasing the flexible jackets 46.

FIGS. 3A and 3B are fragmentary side cross-sectional views of the housing 64 of the first leg support 14 of the stilt 10 of FIG. 2A, taken along line 3-3. As is shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the catch 38 includes a rod 40 as well as a spring 41 disposed between the rod 40 and the second end of the housing 64. The spring 41 biases the rod 40 to move between the engaged and disengaged positions. A first end of a pre-tensioned cable 44 is inserted into the second end of the housing 64 and is threaded through the spring 41 and connected to the rod 40 for facilitating movement of the rod 40 between the engaged and disengaged positions. As shown in FIG. 2A, a second end of the pre-tensioned cable 44 is connected to the release member 48. A user may exert additional tension on the cable 44 to actuate the rod 40, thereby compressing the spring 41 and moving the rod 40 from the engaged to the disengaged position. If the user releases the additional tension from the cable 44, the spring 41 biases the rod 40 to move to the engaged position.

The pre-tensioned cable 44 is disposed in concentric relation within the flexible jacket 46. Although the jacket 46 substantially encloses the cable 44, because the jacket 46 is connected to or retained against the housing 64 and the cable 44 is connected to the rod 40, the jacket 46 and the cable 44 are capable of independent movement relative to one another.

As shown in FIG. 3A and 3B, the first lower leg support section 18 has a plurality of openings 42 formed at spaced intervals along the inner side thereof. The first upper leg support section 16 has a similar opening 42 formed in the inner side thereof. The openings 42 of the first lower leg support section 18 and the openings of the first upper leg support section 16 are formed and arranged such that they may be aligned.

The rod 40 of the catch 38 is sized such that it may be snugly inserted into the openings 42 of both the first upper leg support section 16 and the first lower leg support section 18. The position whereat the rod 40 is inserted through the openings 42 is defined as the engaged position (shown in FIG. 3A), and the position whereat the rod 40 is removed from the openings 42 is defined as the disengaged position (shown in FIG. 3B).

When the catch 38 is in the engaged position, the length of the first leg support 14 is fixed. When the catch 38 is in the disengaged position, the first upper leg support section 16 may move in relative sliding relation to the first lower leg support section 18. The plurality of openings 42 in the first lower leg support section 18 provides several options for varying the length of the first leg support 14, starting with a relatively shorter length if an opening 42 near the base 32 of the stilt 10 is utilized for engaging the rod 40 and moving to increased lengths as openings 42 incrementally farther and farther away from the base 32 are utilized to engage the rod 40.

FIGS. 4A and 4B are fragmentary side cross-sectional views of the housing 64 and an upper portion of the first leg support 14 of FIG. 2A, taken along the line 3-3, showing an alternative embodiment wherein a compression spring 59 is disposed within the first upper leg support section 16. When the catch 38 is in the engaged position, the compression spring 59 is neutralized. When the catch 38 is in the disengaged position, the compression spring 59 exerts a force on the first upper leg support section 16 biasing the first upper leg support section 16 to move in a direction away from the floor, i.e., in a direction that increases the length of the first leg support 14. However, it will be apparent to the Ordinary Artisan that having a compression spring 59 disposed within either upper leg support section 16, 22 is not necessary to facilitate varying the length of the respective leg support 14, 20 of the stilt 10.

FIG. 5A is a detailed perspective view of the release member 48 in the engaged position. FIG. 5B is a detailed perspective view of an upper portion of the calf support 54, showing the release member 48 in the disengaged position. In the present embodiment, the release member 48 is a rectangular lever having opposed ends, opposed sides and opposed planar faces. One end of the release member 48 is inserted into an elongate opening 49 formed in the calf support 54 for receipt of the release member 48. The elongate opening 49 has a top and a bottom end. A bolt 51 connects the end of the release member 48 disposed within the elongate opening 49 to the calf support 54. Near the opposite end of the release member 48, a pair of projections 53 extends outwardly in opposite directions from the opposed faces of the release member 48. Intermediate the two ends of the release member 48 is a connection screw 55. The connection screw 55 connects the two pre-tensioned cables 44 to the release member 48. It will be apparent to the Ordinary Artisan that any connector that provides a fixed connection may be utilized to connect the pre-tensioned cables 44 to the release member 48.

The mounting platform 57 is located adjacent the bottom of the elongate opening 49. The flexible jackets 46 terminate at the mounting platform 57; therefore the mounting platform 57 is the location where the cables 44 cease to be enclosed within the flexible jackets 46. Further, the mounting platform 57 has two openings through which the cables 44 are threaded such that the cables 44 may be connected to the release member 48. When the release member 48 is disposed near the bottom end of the elongate opening 49, the catches 38 are in their engaged positions. When the release member 48 is disposed near the top end of the elongate opening 49, the catches 38 are in their disengaged positions.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the calf support 74 is disposed adjacent the back end of the foot platform 26 so as to extend adjacent the back of the leg of a person using the stilt 10.

In operation, a person using the stilt 10 of the present invention may adjust the length of the leg supports 14, 20 of the stilt 10 while wearing the stilt 10. Typically, a person will be using two stilts 10 at one time, one being worn on each foot. In this scenario, the length of the leg supports 14, 20 will be adjusted one stilt 10 at a time. Thus, when a user wishes to adjust the length of the leg supports 14, 20 of one of the stilts 10, the user places the predominant load of his weight on the stilt 10 that will not be adjusted. This movement frees the other stilt 10 to be adjusted.

In order to effectuate such adjustment, the user moves the release member 48 from the engaged position to the disengaged position. When the release member 48 is moved, a force is exerted on the cables 44 thereby increasing the tension in the cables 44. In turn, the cables 44 exert enough force on the rods 40 to overcome the bias of the respective springs 41, thereby permitting removal of the rods 40 from the openings 42 of the upper leg support sections 16, 22 and the lower leg support sections 18, 24. The lower leg support sections 18, 24 and upper leg support sections 16, 22 are then capable of movement relative to one another. A user may move the upper leg support sections 16, 22 to increase the length of the leg supports 14, 20 or to decrease the length of the leg supports 14, 20. When the leg supports 14, 20 have reached the desired length, the user may then move the release member 48 back to the engaged position. Moving the release member 48 to the engaged position releases the increased tension that was created in the cables 44 upon moving the release member 48 to the disengaged position. In turn, the force exerted on the rods 40 is released, and the rods 40 are inserted through the corresponding openings of the upper leg support sections 16, 22 and the lower leg support sections 18, 24.

In the embodiment wherein the rod 40 of the catch 38 is spring-biased, a user does not have to engage the release member 48 at a point whereat the openings 42 of the upper leg support sections 16, 22 are directly aligned with the openings 42 of the lower leg support sections 18, 24. Rather, the springs 41 will cause the rods 40 to be inserted into the openings 42 of the upper and lower leg support sections 16, 18, 22, 24 when such openings 42 become aligned.

In the embodiment wherein a compression spring 59 is disposed within the upper leg support sections 16, 22, a user does not have to exert a force in the direction away from the floor to increase the length of the leg supports 14, 20. Rather, the compression springs 59 will exert a force that causes the upper leg support sections 16, 22 to move in a direction away from the floor when the release 48 is moved to the disengaged position. Correspondingly, when a user wishes to decrease the length of the leg supports 14, 20, the user will have to exert some force in the direction of the floor to overcome the force of the compression spring 59.

Another stilt 110 in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 7-10. Notably, this stilt 110 includes a calf support 115 that is disposed adjacent one of the ends of the foot platform 120 so as to extend adjacent the back of a leg of a person using the stilt 110. Also, as will be apparent from FIGS. 7-10, the calf support 115 extends coaxially relative to the leg support 125 and is secured in fixed disposition relative to the upper leg support section of the leg support 125. Indeed, the calf support 115 of the stilt 110 preferably comprises an extension of the upper leg support section 135 and the calf support 115 and the upper leg support section 135 may be integrally constructed.

The stilt 110 also includes elastic members in the form of compression springs 145,150 for biasing apart lower leg support sections 155,160 (shown in FIG. 10B) and upper leg support sections 135,140 of respective leg supports 125,130. The compression springs 145,150 are shown in FIG. 10B, wherein a first compression spring 145 is located internally within the upper leg support section 140 and tends to bias the lower leg support section 155 away from the foot platform 120, and a second compression spring 150 is located internally within the calf support 115 and tends to bias the lower leg support section 160 away from the foot platform 120. In this respect, the lower leg support section preferably extends within not only the upper leg support section 135 but also within the calf support 115 where it abuts the second compression spring 150. The lower support sections of the stilt 110 hence are not of equal length.

Additionally, the stilt 110 includes one or more torsion springs. Various views of an exemplary torsion spring 165 are shown in FIGS. 11A-11D. Each torsion spring preferably is located remotely to each other and, preferably, are located at the coupling of each leg support 125,130 to the foot platform 120. Exemplary illustrations of torsion springs located at the couplings of upper leg support sections 135,140 to the foot platform 120 are collectively illustrated in FIGS. 9B, 10B, and 12. The torsion springs collectively bias the leg supports 125,130; the foot platform 120; and the base 170 into a generally rectangular configuration in which the leg supports 125,130 extend generally orthogonally to the foot platform 120 and the base 170. The torsion springs further are internally disposed within the leg supports 125,130 and foot platform 120.

Like the stilt of the preceding figures, the stilt 110 of FIGS. 7-10 each includes a spring-biased catch mechanism 175 that secures the upper leg support sections 135,140 against movement relative to the lower leg support sections, whereby the length of the leg supports 125,130 may be fixed at one of a plurality of different lengths. To illustrate a variation of the catch mechanism of the stilt of FIGS. 1-6, however, in the spring-biased catch mechanism 175 of FIGS. 7-10, the cables 180 of the cabling system (shown in FIG. 7, but omitted in FIGS. 8-10 for clarity) do not extend within a leg support 125,130 or calf support 115 but, instead, extends along the outside of, and are secured to, the leg support 125 and calf support 115 by a plurality of fasteners 185. While this variation leaves the cables 180 subject to snagging, this variation obviates the need to design a conduit system within the leg support 125,130 and/or calf support 115 that permits the relative movement of the components of the stilt 110 without interference by internally routed cables 180.

Based on the foregoing description, it will be readily understood by those persons skilled in the art that the present invention is susceptible of broad utility and application. Many embodiments and adaptations of the present invention other than those specifically described herein, as well as many variations, modifications, and equivalent arrangements, will be apparent from or reasonably suggested by the present invention and the foregoing descriptions thereof, without departing from the substance or scope of the present invention.

Accordingly, while the present invention has been described herein in detail in relation to one or more preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that this disclosure is only illustrative and exemplary of the present invention and is made merely for the purpose of providing a full and enabling disclosure of the invention. The foregoing disclosure is not intended to be construed to limit the present invention or otherwise exclude any such other embodiments, adaptations, variations, modifications or equivalent arrangements, the present invention being limited only by the claims appended hereto and the equivalents thereof.