Title:
Self-adjusting head and neck pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A head and neck pillow that includes a first crescent-shaped support member, wherein the first crescent-shaped support member further comprises a first arm and a second arm; and, a second crescent-shaped support member pivotally, flexibly, or moveably attached to the first crescent-shaped support member, wherein the second crescent-shaped support member further comprises a third arm and a fourth arm. The crescent-shaped support members are typically oriented in the same direction and the four arms are capable of independent movement under certain circumstances when the neck pillow is in use.



Inventors:
Melton, Florence (Columbus, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/199941
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/09/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/657
International Classes:
A47C20/00; A47C16/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, GILBERT Y
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCNEES WALLACE & NURICK LLC (HARRISBURG, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A head and neck support device, comprising: (a) a first resilient, contoured support member; and (b) a second resilient, contoured support member flexibly attached to the first contoured support member, wherein the contoured support members are positioned in the same orientation relative to one another.

2. The head and neck support device of claim 1, wherein the first and second resilient, contoured support members are crescent-shaped.

3. The head and neck support device of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second resilient, contoured support members further comprises a fabric outer shell, and wherein the fabric outer shell contains fiber fill.

4. The head and neck support device of claim 1, wherein the fabric outer shell further comprises chintz or microfiber.

5. The head and neck support device of claim 1, wherein the first resilient, contoured support member further comprises a first support arm and a second support arm, and wherein the second resilient, contoured support member further comprises a third support arm and a fourth support arm, and wherein the support arms are capable of movement independent of one another.

6. A neck pillow, comprising: (a) a first contoured support member, wherein the first contoured support member further comprises at least first arm and a second arm; (b) a second contoured support member pivotally attached to the first contoured support member, wherein the second contoured support member further comprises at least a third arm and a fourth arm; and (c) wherein the contoured support members are oriented in the same direction relative to one another.

7. The neck pillow of claim 6, wherein each of the first and second contoured support members further comprises an outer shell.

8. The neck pillow of claim 7, wherein the outer shell contains fiberfill.

9. The neck pillow of claim 7, wherein the outer shell further comprises at least one breathable fabric.

10. The neck pillow of claim 7, wherein the outer shell further comprises chintz or microfiber.

11. The neck pillow of claim 6, wherein the first support arm, second support arm, third support arm, and fourth support arm are capable of movement independent of one another.

12. A self-adjusting neck pillow, comprising: (a) a first substantially crescent-shaped support member, wherein the first substantially crescent-shaped support member further comprises a first arm and a second arm; (b) a second substantially crescent-shaped support member, wherein the second substantially crescent-shaped support member is oriented in the same direction as the first substantially crescent-shaped support member, and further comprises a third arm and a fourth arm; (c) a means for attaching a portion of the first substantially crescent-shaped support member to a portion of the second substantially crescent-shaped support member; and (d) wherein the means for attaching the substantially crescent-shaped support members to one another is located midway along the inner surfaces of the first and second substantially crescent-shaped support members.

13. The self-adjusting neck pillow of claim 12, wherein each of the first and second crescent-shaped support members further comprises an outer shell.

14. The self-adjusting neck pillow of claim 13, wherein the outer shell contains fiberfill.

15. The self-adjusting neck pillow of claim 13, wherein the outer shell further comprises at least one breathable fabric.

16. The self-adjusting neck pillow of claim 13, wherein the outer shell further comprises chintz or microfiber.

17. The self-adjusting neck pillow of claim 12, wherein the first support arm, second support arm, third support arm, and fourth support arm are capable of movement independent of one another.

18. The self-adjusting neck pillow of claim 12, wherein the means for attaching the substantially crescent-shaped support members to one another further comprises stitching.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates in general to devices for supporting the neck and head, and in particular to a self-adjusting neck pillow that includes multiple support members that are attached to one another.

Neck pillows of various shapes and sizes have been commercially available for some time. Such neck pillows may include cushioned structures or members that are intended to provide support during prolonged periods of use. While such pillows may provide adequate support for the neck, they often do not provide adequate support for the head. The user of this type of neck pillow must continually push his or her head in a backwards motion to make contact with the pillow. The result is often discomfort and fatigue; thus, there is a need for a neck pillow that supports both the neck and the head.

Another type of neck pillow is the crescent or ring-shaped pillow, which is intended for situations where the user is sitting upright in a chair or seat. These pillows are usually filled with small styrofoam beads or other similar particulate matter. While somewhat useful for its intended purpose, this type of pillow may actually increase or even cause neck and shoulder fatigue when used for extended periods of time. Fatigue or discomfort typically results from the tendency of the filler material, i.e., the beads, to rearrange or re-distribute when weight or pressure is applied to the exterior of the pillow. Therefore, when a person places his or her head against the pillow, the weight of the head causes the beads to move away from the area of pressure and into the parts of the pillow that are not supporting weight. Consequently, the pillow does not provide adequate support and muscle fatigue and discomfort may occur. Thus, there is a need for a neck pillow that can be used by a person in the seated position and that provides adequate support and comfort during periods of prolonged use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Deficiencies in and of the prior art are overcome by the present invention, the exemplary embodiment of which provides a self-adjusting neck pillow. In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a head and neck support device is provided. This device includes: a first flexible or semi-flexible, contoured support member; and a second flexible or semi-flexible, contoured support member pivotally, flexibly, or otherwise moveably attached to the first contoured support member. The contoured support members are typically positioned in the same orientation relative to one another.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a head and neck pillow is provided. This neck pillow includes: a first resilient support member, wherein the first resilient support member further comprises a first wing or arm and a second wing or arm; and a second resilient support member pivotally, moveably, or flexibly attached to the first resilient support member, wherein the second resilient support member further comprises a third wing or arm and a fourth wing or arm. The resilient support members are typically oriented in the same direction and the four wings or arms are capable of independent movement under certain circumstances.

In accordance with yet another aspect of this invention, a self-adjusting head and neck pillow is provided. This self-adjusting neck pillow includes: a first substantially crescent-shaped support member, wherein the first substantially crescent-shaped support member further comprises a first arm and a second arm; a second substantially crescent-shaped support member, wherein the second substantially crescent-shaped support member is oriented in the same general direction as the first substantially crescent-shaped support member and further comprises a third arm and a fourth arm; and, a means for attaching a portion of the first substantially crescent-shaped support member to a portion of the second substantially crescent-shaped support member. The means for attaching the substantially crescent-shaped support members to one another is typically a stitched area located midway along the inner surfaces of the first and second substantially crescent-shaped support members.

Additional features and aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading and understanding the following detailed description of the exemplary embodiments. As will be appreciated, further embodiments of the invention are possible without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and associated descriptions are to be regarded as illustrative and not restrictive in nature.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and form a part of the specification, schematically illustrate one or more exemplary embodiments of the invention and, together with the general description given above and detailed description of the embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a front, perspective view of the exemplary embodiment of the neck pillow of the present invention showing the flexible arms in the “neutral” position.

FIG. 2 is a front, perspective view of the exemplary embodiment of the neck pillow of the present invention showing the flexible arms in the “flexed” position.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the exemplary embodiment of the neck pillow of the present invention showing the flexible arms in the “neutral” position.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the exemplary embodiment of the neck pillow of the present invention showing the flexible arms in the “flexed” position.

FIG. 5 is a rear view of the exemplary embodiment of the neck pillow of the present invention showing the pillow in the “neutral” position.

FIG. 6 is a rear view of the exemplary embodiment of the neck pillow of the present invention showing the pillow in the “flexed” position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference Numerals

This invention relates to devices used for supporting the head and neck. A first exemplary embodiment of this invention provides a head and neck support device, that includes: a first flexible, contoured support member; and a second flexible, contoured support member pivotally or otherwise attached to the first contoured support member. The contoured support members are positioned in the same orientation relative to one another. A second exemplary embodiment of this invention provides a neck pillow that includes: a first resilient support member, wherein the first resilient support member further comprises a first arm and a second arm; and a second resilient support member pivotally attached to the first resilient support member, wherein the second resilient support member further comprises a third arm and a fourth arm. The resilient support members are oriented in the same direction relative to one another. A third exemplary embodiment of this invention provides a self-adjusting neck pillow, comprising: a first substantially crescent-shaped support member, wherein the first substantially crescent-shaped support member further comprises a first arm and a second arm; a second substantially crescent-shaped support member, wherein the second substantially crescent-shaped support member is oriented the same as the first substantially crescent-shaped support member, and further comprises a third arm and a fourth arm; and a means for attaching a portion of the first substantially crescent-shaped support member to a portion of the second substantially crescent-shaped support member. The means for attaching the substantially crescent-shaped support members to one another is typically a stitched area located midway along the inner surfaces of the first and second substantially crescent-shaped support members.

With reference to FIGS. 1-6, an exemplary embodiment of the present invention provides a self-adjusting head and neck pillow 10. Neck pillow 10 typically includes a first crescent shaped support member 12 that is attached, in a hinged or pivotal manner, to a second crescent-shaped support member 14. First crescent shaped support member 12 further includes a first arm 18 and a second arm 20, and second crescent shaped support member 14 further includes a third arm 22 and a fourth arm 24. The support members are resilient in that they retain their basic shape and dimensions before and after use, and the arms are flexible in that they are capable of movement relative to one another. In the embodiment shown in the Figures, an exemplary means for attaching support members 12 and 14 to one another includes a stitched area 16 located midway along the inner surfaces of the first and second substantially crescent-shaped support members. As best shown in FIGS. 3-4, the central, bottom, inner edge of support member 12 is stitched, or otherwise attached in any suitable manner, to a portion of the central, upper, inner edge of support member 14. In an alternate embodiment (not shown in the Figures), the support members are attached to one another by a band of material that is either part of one or both support members or that has been attached thereto by adhesive or other means. Attaching support members 12 and 14 to each other in this manner creates a hinge or a pivot-like connection that allows support member 12 to move independent of support member 14 when weight or pressure is placed on one or the other support member.

Because arms 18, 20, 22, and 24 are generally flexible, each arm is also capable of independent movement when weight or pressure is placed on or released from the various areas of neck pillow 10. For example, when a user of neck pillow 10 places the pillow around his or her neck and leans his or her head directly back from the neutral position, rear portion 26 separates from rear portion 28 and lifts, flexes, or raises generally upward (see FIG. 4) to support the head. Likewise, when a user of neck pillow 10 leans his or her head to one side or the other, first support member 12 will self-adjust to provide support to the head. Thus, regardless of where the user chooses to position his or her head, neck support pillow 10 automatically re-adjusts to provide the user with comfort and support, even for prolonged periods of time.

Neck pillow 10 typically includes an outer shell made of one or more comfortable, breathable fabrics such as chintz, microfiber, or other materials with similar qualities. Fabrics compatible with this invention include fabrics that permit air to be drawn into the interior of the pillow so that the general shape of the pillow may be maintained when not in use, but that restrict a rapid outflow of air from the interior of the pillow when weight or pressure is applied. The air that is held on the interior of neck pillow during use provides additional cushioning to the user. Additionally, neck pillow 10 is typically filled with a material such as fiberfill or other material with similar qualities. Filler materials compatible with this invention include lightweight materials that do not significantly bind, compress, or rearrange within the interior of the pillow when weight or pressure is applied to the exterior of the pillow. Additionally, the material used for first support member 12 may be different than, or include a different surface texture than, the material used for second support member 14.

An exemplary method for constructing neck pillow 10 includes the first step of cutting two crescent-shaped pieces of fabric for each support member 12 and 14. The pieces of fabric are then stitched together, filled with fiberfill (or other material) to form the support members, and any opening in each support member for receiving the fiberfill is closed. The two crescent-shaped support members are then inverted and a portion of one support member is stitched to a portion of the other support member (see the Figures). After the stitching is complete, the two support members are “flipped-over” to create the final configuration shown in FIG. 1. This method of stitching, then flipping the support members, creates a “spring-like” action between support members 12 and 14 that facilitates the self-adjusting capabilities of neck pillow 10.

While the present invention has been illustrated by the description of exemplary embodiments thereof, and while the embodiments have been described in certain detail, it is not the intention of the Applicant to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to any of the specific details, representative devices and methods, and/or illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of the applicant's general inventive concept.