Title:
Protective garment for use under an exoskeletal pad system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective garment is provided for use in conjunction with an exoskeletal upper body pad system for a sport, such as American football. The protective garment includes a shirt formed of air-permeable, moisture-wicking fabric that stretches in all directions. A number of independent protective pad segments are integrated within the shirt and are arranged to enable flexible motion by the wearer of the shirt. The independent protective pad segments are positioned and dimensioned to enable the protective garment to be worn between the body of the wearer and the exoskeletal upper body pad system. A conventional exoskeletal shoulder pad system may be easily retrofit for use with the protective garment by attaching a pair of sub pad assemblies to the main arches of the system in order to provide localized compressible padding.



Inventors:
Brassill, Patrick (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/219401
Publication Date:
03/08/2007
Filing Date:
09/02/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Terry McHugh (Los Altos, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective garment for use in conjunction with an exoskeletal upper body pad system, said protective garment comprising: a shirt formed of an air-permeable, moisture-wicking fabric that stretches in a plurality of directions; and; a plurality of independent protective pad segments integrated with said shirt, said protective pad segments being arranged to enable flexible motion of a wearer of said shirt, said independent protective pad segments being positioned and dimensions to enable said protective garment to be worn between the body of said wearer and said exoskeletal upper body pad system.

2. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein said independent protective pad segments are formed of perforated, closed cell foam, thereby enabling cooling of the torso of said wearer.

3. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein said independent protective pad segments are thermal bonded to said shirt.

4. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein said independent protective pad segments are thermal bonded to said shirt using a WEB-type hot melt adhesive.

5. The protective garment of claim 3 wherein said independent protective pad segments that are thermal bonded to said shirt have a thermal-bonded cover of air-permeable, moisture-wicking fabric that stretches in a plurality of directions along surfaces that are not in immediate contact with said shirt.

6. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein at least some of said independent protective pad segments have a plurality of thermal-formed sub segments to promote flexibility of said independent protective pad segments.

7. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein said shirt includes an anterior fabric panel joined to a posterior fabric panel.

8. A protective system comprising: an exoskeletal shoulder pad system that includes main arches and epaulet assemblies; a pair of sub pad assemblies attached to said main arches to provide localized compressible padding; and a protective garment that is configured for wear on an upper body between said exoskeletal shoulder pad system and said upper body, said protective garment including a plurality of embedded protective pad segments to provide wide range compressible padding.

9. The protective system of claim 8 wherein: (1) each said main arch includes a chest portion, a back portion and a connecting portion extending between said chest and back portions; (2) each said sub pad assembly is configured to underlie a corresponding said connecting portion; and (3) said localized compressible padding of said sub arch assemblies is independent of said protective garment.

10. The protective system of claim 8 wherein said wide range compressible padding of said protective garment includes closed cell foam.

11. The protective system of claim 10 wherein said protective garment is a shirt.

12. The protective system of claim 8 wherein said protective garment is formed of an air-permeable and moisture-wicking fabric.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to protective sports equipment. More particularly, this invention relates to shoulder pads for the sports of football, lacrosse and hockey.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Improvements are desired in the construction of football, lacrosse and hockey shoulder pads. In particular, improvements are desired in the dissipation of body heat and moisture of the wearer as well as the sanitary cleaning aspects of the pad component of football, lacrosse and hockey shoulder pad systems.

The soft pad component of the conventional shoulder pad system is the element of the football, lacrosse and hockey shoulder pad system that is immediately in contact with the wearer's body. The typical football, lacrosse or hockey shoulder pad system is comprised of a hard exoskeletal system and a soft pad component. The “soft pad component” is defined herein as the compressible padding that provides cushioning. The soft pad component is distinguishable from the rigid elements of the exeskeletal system. The soft pad component in the typical shoulder pad system is mechanically attached to the exoskeletal system so as to be positioned between the wearer's torso and upper body and the exoskeletal system. The construction of conventional shoulder pad systems undesirably traps moisture and body heat between the soft pad component and the wearer's body. Additionally, the soft pad component of the conventional shoulder pad system cannot be laundered in a conventional fashion, thus leading to unsanitary conditions of the soft pad component.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an improved shoulder pad system that enables improved heat and moisture transfer away from the wearer's body. Shoulder pads according to the invention would also enable frequent and conventional laundering of the pad component.

With regard to the foregoing, the present invention is directed to a pad system for a shoulder pad. In the preferred embodiment, the system includes a protective garment component having multiple protective pad segments. The protective pad segments are positioned and dimensioned to take the place of the soft pad component of a conventional shoulder pad system. Thus, at least the major portion of the compressible padding is separate from the exoskeletal system.

In another aspect, the invention relates to a shoulder pad system that includes a sub pad assembly configured for installation on each arch member, wherein the sub pad assembly is further configured to underlie an epaulette system and is independent of the protective garment. By attaching a sub pad assembly to each arch member of a conventional shoulder pad system, the conventional system is quickly retrofit for use with the protective garment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a frontal perspective view of an illustrated embodiment of a shoulder pad system in accordance with a preferred embodiment thereof.

FIG. 1B is a rear perspective view thereof.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the protective garment assembly of the shoulder pad system of FIGS. 1A and 1B.

FIGS. 3A and 3B are top and bottom plan views, respectively, of a sub pad assembly of the shoulder pad system of FIGS. 1A and 1B.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of an exoskeletal assembly of the shoulder pad system of FIGS. 1A and 1B.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the position and attachment of a sub pad assembly of FIGS. 3A and 3B to an exoskeletal system of FIG. 4

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With initial reference to FIGS. 1A and 1B, the invention relates to a shoulder pad system including an exoskeletal assembly 40, a pair of sub pad assemblies 20 and 30, and a protective garment assembly 10.

Protective Garment Assembly

With reference to FIG. 2, the protective garment assembly preferably includes anterior and posterior fabric panels 220 and 230, respectively. Using techniques known in the art, such as stitching, the fabric panels are joined together to form a garment that covers the upper torso of the wearer. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the garment includes apertures at both sides for receiving the wearer's arms, and an aperture at the center of the top of the protective garment assembly for receiving the wearer's neck and head. Further comprising the protective garment assembly are multiple, independent protective foam segments 222 that are attached by a WEB-type hot melt adhesive and thermal processing to the anterior and posterior panels 220 or 230 in sizes, shapes and positions that provide protection, while promoting flexible motion of the wearer. The WEB-type hot melt adhesive permits air ventilation and is capable of withstanding typical temperatures encountered during laundering. Preferably, the adhesive is stable at a temperature as high as 100 degrees Celsius. In the preferred embodiment, the WEB-type adhesive is the adhesive sold under the trademark MELTACE WEB 100E by Donsung NSC Co., Ltd.

Fabric panels 226 are preferably affixed by the WEB-type, air-ventilating adhesive and thermal processing to the protective foam segments 222 on the surfaces of protective foam segments 222 that are not in immediate contact with fabric panels 220 or 230. The size and shape of each fabric panel 226 is preferably substantially larger than the associated protective foam segment 222 to which it is attached, so as to enable attaching each fabric panel 226 to the fabric panel 220 or 230 at areas beyond the associated protective foam segment 222. Preferably, each fabric panel 226 is stitched to the fabric panel 220 or 230 around the entire perimeter of the associated protective foam segment.

Preferably, fabric panels 220, 230 and 226 are made of a synthetic fabric constructed to promote moisture-wicking and to be capable of stretching in multiple directions. “Moisture-wicking” is defined herein as the ability to absorb perspiration and other fluids, while “stretching in multiple directions” is defined as the ability to stretch under typical force applied to a garment and still return to the original relaxed condition when the force is removed. In the preferred embodiment, the fabric would comprise Polyester microfibers combined with Spandex sold under various trademarks and produced by Y.R.C. Textile Co., Ltd.

Preferably, protective foam segments 222 are made of perforated closed cell foam.

Exoskeletal Assembly

With respect to FIGS. 1A, 1B and 4, the exoskeletal assembly 40 preferably includes a pair of main arches 130 and 140, a pair of epaulette assemblies 70 and 80, a pair of shoulder cap assemblies 50 and 60, a pair of sub arches 38 and 48, a plurality of arch member connectors 122, a flexible cord 126, a fastener 128, a plurality of straps 100, and a plurality of buckles 110 to accept the straps 100 for the purposes of attaching the exoskeletal system 40 to the wearer.

Each arch member 130 and 140 is generally U-shaped in configuration and preferably of one-piece molded plastic construction. The arch member 130 is preferably constructed to include a chest portion 32 and a back portion 34 and a connecting portion 36. Similarly, the arch member 140 is shown as having a chest portion 42, a back portion 44, and a connecting portion 46.

Each epaulette assembly 70 and 80 is preferably comprised of a one-piece molded hard plastic element that is generally convex in shape. Each such assembly has a fabric covered foam interior liner and a flexible connector 78 and 80 for attaching the epaulette assembly to the respective arch member 130 and 140.

Each shoulder cap assembly 50 and 60 is preferably comprised of a one-piece molded hard plastic element that is generally convex in shape. Each such assembly has a fabric covered foam interior liner and a flexible connector 76 and 86 for attaching the epaulette assembly to the respective arch member 130 and 140.

The sub arches 38 and 48 are preferably of one-piece molded plastic construction generally curved in shape. The sub arch is preferably connected to the same-side arch member 130 and 140 so as to be positioned under the connecting member 36 and 46 and between the arch member chest and back portions 32 and 34 or 42 and 44. The sub arch is preferably attached to the arch member by mechanical means, such as rivets or screws and nuts at points near the tops of the arch member front portion 32 and arch member back portion 34. The chest portion and the back portion are configured to have raised areas of varying shapes and sizes within their perimeters to provide added structural strength.

Each chest portion 32 and 42 and each back portion 34 and 44 preferably is perforated at various positions within its perimeter to promote airflow away from the wearer's body.

Each epaulette assembly 70 and 80 and each shoulder cap assembly 50 and 60 is preferably attached to the connecting portion 36 and 46 of the corresponding main arch at a point approximately above the wearer's shoulder by using mechanical connectors such as rivets or screws and nuts. The preferred assembly is accomplished by aligning the apertures in the connecting portion 36 or 46, the shoulder cap assembly flexible connector 76 or 80, and the epaulette assembly flexible connector 78 or 88 with the shoulder cap assembly flexible connector positioned between the connecting portion 36 and the epaulette assembly flexible connector.

Arch members 130 and 140 are preferably connected by placing the two arch members in adjacent relationship at a desired distance apart, with the back portion 34 substantially parallel to the back portion 44. A plurality of the connectors 122 are used to span between and connect the back portions 34 and 44 by means of a mechanical fastener such as a rivet or a screw and nut.

Arch members 130 and 140 are preferably connected at the front by placing the arch members 130 and 140 adjacent to one another, with the chest portion 32 substantially parallel to the chest portion 44. Flexible cord 126 is threaded through apertures in chest portions 32 and 42 and fastener 128 is used to maintain the wearer's desired tension in flexible cord. The preferred fastener 128 is constructed of molded hard plastic and enables the wearer to quickly and frequently lock or unlock its hold on flexible cord 126.

Sub Pad Assembly

With respect to FIGS. 1A, 3A and 3B, the sub pad assembly 20 will be described, but the description applies equally to the other sub pad assembly 30. The advantage of the sub pad assemblies is that conventional shoulder pad systems can be retrofit for optimal use with the protective garment 10. The sub pad assembly 20 preferably includes an elongated one-piece shoulder portion 21. A pair of supplemental pads 144 and 146 are preferably releasably attachable with the shoulder portion.

The shoulder portion 21 is preferably made of a one-piece perforated and thermal formed flexible padding material, such as EVA closed cell foam, sandwiched between sheets of a fabric material that is air permeable and moisture wicking. In the preferred embodiment, the sheets of fabric material are affixed to the one-piece perforated and thermal-formed foam using a WEB-type thermal adhesive that allows air ventilation as previously described.

The shoulder section 21 is preferably thermal formed into a plurality of subsegments to promote flexibility of said shoulder section 21.

Referring to FIG. 3B, the shoulder section 21 has a plurality of fabric panels 147 that are preferably constructed of the loop portion of a hook-and-loop fastening system.

Referring to FIG. 3A, the surfaces of supplemental pads 144 and 146 that come in immediate contact with fabric panel 147 on shoulder section 21 are constructed of the hook portion of a hook-and-loop fastening system.

Referring to FIGS. 3B, 4 and 5, the sub pad assembly 20 is attached to the exoskeletal assembly. The attachment is preferably accomplished by aligning apertures 43 and 47 in the sub pad assembly with apertures 41 and 45, respectively, on arch member 140 and then inserting a mechanical fastener, such as a rivet or a screw and nut, through the aligned said apertures.

Referring to FIGS. 3A and 5, straps 122 and 132 having matingly engageable hook-and-loop material on respective surfaces thereof are provided on the sub pad assemblies 20 and 30 for wrapping around the sub arches 38 and 48.