Title:
Cushioning grip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a cushioning grip for objects that are designed to be held or manipulated by the fingers and/or the hand and a method for using the invention. The grip is made of a length of bendable material surrounded with a cushioning material. The present invention is attachable to an article so as to provide a comfortable grip for both users with disabilities, pain, or weakness in the hands or fingers and users not so afflicted, even with prolonged use.



Inventors:
Comstock, Paula Gayle (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Luckenbach, Patrick Ross (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/605773
Publication Date:
06/07/2007
Filing Date:
11/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A46B5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAH, CHUCK Y
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gayle Comstock (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A straight, slender cylindrical device for cushioning portions of articles, comprising: an interior spine of material which can bend to shape easily and maintain its shape when bent; a layer of cushioning material enclosing said interior spine on all sides; wherein said device is attachable to said article by coiling the device around said portion of that article where cushioning is desired.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the interior spine is of a metal.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein said cushioning material is of synthetic or natural rubber or latex, natural or synthetic elastomers, resins, soft thermoplastic polymers, and the like.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein the outer edge of said cushioning material is coated or covered with another surface material.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the two ends of said device are covered or coated with caps of additional cushioning material.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein said device is attachable to said article with an adhesive strip.

7. The device of claim 1, being of various lengths, diameters, and colors.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein said device may be cut to length by the user.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein said device is attachable temporarily or permanently to an article, and transferable from one article to another.

10. The device of claim 1, wherein said device is attachable to a variety of articles.

11. A straight, slender cylindrical device, preshaped into a spiral for cushioning articles, comprising: an interior spine of material which has a preset cylindroid helix form of constant diameter and pitch capable of returning to its initial preset form after being temporarily altered in shape; a layer of cushioning material enclosing said interior spine on all sides; wherein said device is attachable to said article by inserting said article into the open space within the spiral.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein the interior spine is of a metal.

13. The device of claim 11, wherein said cushioning material is of synthetic or natural rubber or latex, natural or synthetic elastomers, resins, soft thermoplastic polymers, and the like.

14. The device of claim 11, wherein the outer edge of said cushioning material is coated or covered with another surface material.

15. The device of claim 11, wherein the two ends of said device are covered or coated with caps of cushioning material.

16. The device of claim 11, wherein said device is attachable to said article with an adhesive strip.

17. The device of claim 11, being of various lengths, diameters, and colors.

18. The device of claim 11, wherein said device may be cut to length by the user.

19. The device of claim 11, wherein said device is attachable temporarily or permanently to an article, and transferable from one article to another.

20. The device of claim 11, wherein said device is attachable to a variety of articles.

21. A method of cushioning portions of an article, comprising: providing a cushioning grip of the type comprising a straight, slender cylindrical device having an interior spine of material which can bend to shape easily and retain its shape when bent, enclosed on all sides by a layer of cushioning material; holding one end of said cushioning grip to the surface of said portion of the article; and wrapping the opposite end of said cushioning grip around and around said portion of the article until the entire grip has been applied to said article.

22. A method of cushioning portions of an article, comprising: providing a cushioning grip of the type comprising a straight, slender cylindrical device, preshaped into a spiral for cushioning articles, having an interior spine of material which has a preset cylindroid helix form of constant diameter and pitch capable of returning to its initial preset form after being temporarily altered in shape, enclosed on all sides by a layer of cushioning material; securing said article so that said article does not move and so that said portion of the article is accessible; holding one end of said preshaped spiral in each hand; rotating each hand towards the other, thereby slightly enlarging the open space within said spiral; positioning said spiral over said portion of the article; and releasing both ends of said spiral.

23. A method of cushioning portions of an article, comprising: providing a cushioning grip of the type comprising a straight, slender cylindrical device, preshaped into a spiral for cushioning articles, having an interior spine of material which has a preset cylindroid helix form of constant diameter and pitch capable of returning to its initial preset form after being temporarily altered in shape, enclosed on all sides by a layer of cushioning material; and gently twisting said spiral onto said portion of the article.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/742,025, filed Dec. 1, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to a cushioning device and method for using that device which provides a comfortable grip to an article, or portion of an article, to which said cushioning device is attached. More specifically, this invention relates to a detachable or permanently affixable attachment having cushioning such that the cushion provides a comfortable grip to the hand and fingers of the person using said attachment. The cushioning device can be affixed to any object or portion thereof designed to be held or manipulated by the fingers and/or hand where a softer, thicker area for grasping or gripping is desired. The present invention further relates, as in one preferred embodiment, to cushioned attachable grips for writing instruments.

Finger and/or hand held and/or manipulated articles—such as writing implements, eating utensils, small tools, handles—used in daily living and frequently held in the hand or fingers for an extended time, may cause pain, fatigue, and discomfort both to users with disabilities and with pain or weakness in the hands or fingers and to users not afflicted with said disabilities, pain, or weakness.

For years, different devices have been used with various articles to provide a more comfortable grip to the user. These devices fall into three general categories: the built-in cushion, the separately attachable grip, and the redesign of the article in a totally different form.

To provide a more comfortable grip to the user, some articles or parts thereof have cushioned grips permanently attached to or integrated into a partion of the article itself. Examples of this approach include U.S. Pat. No. 6,390,704 to Baudino, et al (2002), U.S. Pat. No. 6,379,065 to Perry (2002), U.S. Pat. No. 5,926,901 to Tseng, et al (1999), and U.S. Pat. No. 5,000,599 to McCall (1991). These grips are of limited effectiveness, as they do not conform to differing anatomies and techniques of use of different individuals. Articles with built-in grips are not comfortable to hold for an extended period of time. The user must hold the article tightly to control the object, leading to strain and cramping with prolonged use. These grips are not removable, transferable, or reusable, and therefore cannot be affixed to various objects.

Cushioning grips have been patented since the 1870's which are designed to attach to an existing uncushioned object. U.S. Pat. No. 4,167,347 to Hoyle (1979), U.S. Pat. No. 4,689,020 to Rusk (1987), U.S. Pat. No. 5,558,452 to Oka, et al (1996), U.S. Pat. No. 5,970,581 to Chadwick, et al (1999), and U.S. Pat. No. 6,752,555 to Geddes (2004) disclose some of the more recent cushioning products. All of these suffer from a combination several of the following disadvantages. The grips are not sufficiently soft, thick, and formable to prevent discomfort for the user and so do not provide a grip that is comfortable to hold for an extended period of time. These grips have insufficient cushioning to prevent the user from feeling the surface of the object to be held in the fingers or hand. Some separate attachable grips are filled with liquids and may leak. Most cushioned grips do not significantly enlarge the diameter of the object in the area where it is to be gripped or grasped by the fingers or hand. These grips must be forced onto the object to be cushioned, and are therefore not easily installed or removed, especially by an individual with a disability, pain, or weakness in the hands and fingers. The design of all of these separate attachable cushioning grips does not lend itself to use with various objects, or portions thereof, of differing sizes.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,785,495 to Dellis (1988) and U.S. Pat. No. 4,934,024 to Sexton (1990) disclose similar attachable grips which also need to be heated and formed. The additional steps involved in heating and forming the grip diminish its ease of use, and heating the grip while it is attached to an object risks damage to that object.

Separate attachable cushioning grips which wrap on to an article to be cushioned include U.S. Pat. No. 5,846,629 to Gwinn (1998) and U.S. Pat. No. 5,294,117 to Huang (1994). These wrapping grips are for use with larger hand-held articles and are not suitable for finger held and manipulated objects. They do not significantly enlarge the diameter of the object to which they are attached. While they may be removeable, they are generally not transferable or reuseable.

Some articles have been invented which are shaped in a novel and unfamiliar way to permit painfree manipulation and use. While comprising a creative approach to the problem, these designs require the user to relearn the method of using the article and can compromise dexterity acquired by years of practice on the part of the user. U.S. Pat. No. 6,637,962 to Roche, et al (2003) and U.S. Pat. No. 6,315,476 to Nakagawa (2001) disclose such articles. These articles are specifically designed for one purpose and cannot provide cushioning to different objects. These also are not inexpensive to manufacture, and therefore not inexpensive to purchase.

There exists, therefore, a need for an inexpensive cushioned grip that can be easily attached to many types of products. The present invention fulfills this need and provides further related advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is comprised of a semirigid yet pliable spine surrounded with a cushioning material and methods for using the invention.

Several objects and advantages of the present invention are as follows:

  • To provide a cushioned grip which is comfortable to hold for an extended period of time;
  • To provide a cushioned grip which is soft and formable to the user's fingers and hand;
  • To provide a cushioned grip which has sufficient cushioning to prevent the user from feeling the surface of the object to be held in the fingers or hand;
  • To provide a cushioned grip which is easy to install and remove, as it will be used by individuals with disabilities, pain, or weakness in the hands and fingers;
  • To provide a cushioned grip which will not leak;
  • To provide a cushioned grip which does not require the application of heat to conform to the user's fingers or hand;
  • To provide a cushioned grip which is inexpensive to purchase, and which accordingly must be inexpensive to manufacture; and,
  • To provide a cushioned grip which allows the user to hold and manipulate the object to which the grip is attached in the same manner in which the user has become accustomed to hold and manipulate the object.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a cushioned grip which is of sufficient thickness and formability to conform to differing anatomies and techniques of use of different individuals. This cushioned grip significantly enlarges the diameter of the object in the area where it is to be gripped or grasped by the fingers or hand. Once the grip is attached, the user need not hold the article tightly to control the object, thus preventing strain and cramping with prolonged use.

This much-needed cushioned grip can be used without damage to the item upon which it is attached, can be attached to items of different sizes and purposes, and is easily removable, transferable, reusable, or permanently attachable to an object.

The grip can be mounted on many objects and on any object that has a portion capable of receiving a wrap-around spiral coil. The invention may be affixed to various objects, or portions thereof, such as, but not limited to, writing implements, eating utensils, toothbrushes, paint brushes, hand tools, razors, and the like. These objects also include handles such as those found on purses, briefcases, luggage, and the like. The invention is appropriate for use on any device designed to be held or manipulated by the fingers and/or the hand where a softer, thicker area for gripping or grasping is desired.

Additional advantages and features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description that follows, and will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following detailed description and of the accompanying drawings which illustrate the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate the present invention. In said drawings:

FIG. 1 illustrates the coiled spiral shape of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows the shape of one embodiment of the cushioned grip as it appears prior to coiling onto the object to which it is to be attached.

FIG. 3 shows a cross section of the cushioned grip depicted in FIG. 2, taken in the direction of lines 3-3.

FIG. 4 shows an end view of the coiled spiral shape of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows end caps attached to one embodiment of the cushioned grip.

FIG. 6 illustrates the placement of the present invention on a writing instrument.

FIG. 7 shows a method of attaching one embodiment of the cushioned grip to a writing instrument.

FIG. 8 shows a method of attaching the coiled spiral cushioned grip to a writing instrument.

FIG. 9 shows another method of attaching the coiled spiral cushioned grip to a writing instrument.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention includes a device comprising a semirigid yet pliable spine 1 surrounded with a cushioning material 2. The device is attachable to an article so as to provide a cushioned grip on the article that is comfortable to the user, even with use for extended periods of time.

It should be understood that unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, the methods and materials described herein are preferred. Unless mentioned otherwise, the techniques employed or contemplated herein are standard methodologies well known to one of ordinary skill in the art. The materials, methods, and examples are only exemplary and are not limiting.

FIG. 1 illustrates the shape and overall configuration of a preferred embodiment of the invention, coiled in preparation to be placed on the object to which it is to be attached. In this preferred embodiment of the invention, the device comprises a straight, slender 3-dimensional filled circular cylindrical product, shaped beforehand into a spiral prior to placement around the surface area of an object in the area where the object is to be held in the user's hand or fingers. In this embodiment of the invention, the spiral grip preformed from the semirigid yet pliable cylindrical product consists of an interior spine 1 of material which has a preset or “stored” cylindroid helix form of constant diameter and pitch capable of returning to its initial preset form after being temporarily altered in shape. The capacity to easily resume its original shape after being temporarily deformed allows the grip to be easily fitted onto and removed from the object to which it is to be attached, and the preset shape allows the grip to fit securely onto the object once positioned in the area where the cushioning effect is desired. This interior spine 1 is enclosed on all sides with a cushioning material 2. This embodiment of the invention may be affixed to the object either temporarily or permanently.

In another embodiment of the invention, shown in FIG. 2, the device comprises the same semirigid yet pliable cylindrical product, capable of bending without breaking, which the user coils around the surface of an object in the area where the object is to be gripped. This embodiment of the invention may also be affixed to the object either temporarily or permanently. In this embodiment of the invention, the pliable cylindrical product consists of an interior spine 1 of material which will bend to shape easily and maintain its desired form once bent. The interior spine 1 is enclosed on all sides by a layer of cushioning material 2.

FIG. 2 illustrates the shape and overall configuration of the invention prior to coiling around the object to which it is to be attached. The outside diameter of the cushioning material 2 surrounding the semirigid, pliable spine 1 will range from about 3 mm to about 15 mm, with the larger diameter providing more of a cushioning effect and allowing use on larger objects. The larger diameter will also provide a thicker area for the user to grasp, thereby alleviating pain, fatigue, and cramping for the user.

Any and all dimensions shown in the drawings and included in this detailed description of the invention could be changed or varied as needed. The dimensions shown are only an illustration of one or more embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates the placement of the invention on a writing instrument. FIG. 3 illustrates a cross section of the invention.

The invention can be manufactured in a variety of styles, shapes, sizes, color, and designs. The diameter of the cushioning material 2 can be varied. The length of the invention will vary with the size of the object to be cushioned and with the diameter of the cushioning material 2. The present invention includes predetermined finished lengths suitable for specific applications as well as lengths that can be custom cut by the user as their needs require.

The invention may be temporarily or permanently attached to an object. The invention may be transferred from one object to another.

The semirigid yet pliable spine 1 of the invention is formed of metal, plastic or any other suitable material. The cushioning material 2 used in the invention may include, but not be limited to, synthetic or natural rubber or latex, natural or synthetic elastomers, resins, soft thermoplastic polymers, and the like.

The outer edge of the cushioning material 2 may be coated or covered with another surface material 3 to enhance its appearance, comfort, and/or durability.

An adhesive strip 5 may be applied along one long side of the product to assist the user in semi-permanently or permanently attaching the product to the object of their choice.

The two ends of the invention, whether in slender, straight cylindrical form, as shown in FIG. 5, or in coiled form, may be covered or coated with tips of additional cushioning material 4.

The present invention is not filled with liquid, so there is no danger of leaking. This saves manufacturing costs for the cushioning device, which, in turn, allows the device to be sold inexpensively.

The reader will see that the present invention will provide a grip that is comfortable to hold for an extended period of time because of its soft, thick cushioning and that will conform to differing anatomies and techniques of use of different individuals. The user may hold the article comfortably to control the object, preventing strain and cramping with prolonged use.

The present invention allows the use of finger and/or hand held and/or manipulated articles—such as writing implements, eating utensils, small tools, handles—used in daily living and frequently held in the hand or fingers for an extended time, without pain, fatigue, and discomfort both to users with disabilities and with pain or weakness in the hands or fingers and to users not afflicted with said disabilities, pain, or weakness. This present invention has sufficient cushioning to prevent the user from feeling the surface of the object to be held in the fingers or hand, and it significantly enlarges the diameter of the object in the area where it is to be gripped or grasped by the fingers or hand.

The present invention is adaptable to a variety of objects or portions thereof, such as, but not limited to, writing implements, eating utensils, toothbrushes, paint brushes, hand tools, razors, and the like. These objects also include handles such as those found on purses, briefcases, luggage, and the like. The invention is appropriate for use on any device designed to be held or manipulated by the fingers and/or the hand where a softer, thicker area for gripping or grasping is desired.

The invention is easy to install and remove, requiring no force, thus providing an added benefit to those individuals with disabilities, pain or weakness in the hands and fingers.

The semirigid pliable cylindrical product illustrated in FIG. 2 is applied to the object to which it is to be attached in the following simple manner, illustrated in FIG. 7:

With one hand, the user holds one end 7 of the cushioned grip to the surface of the object to which it is to be attached on the portion of that object where cushioning is desired. With the other hand, the user wraps the opposite end 8 of the grip around and around the portion of that object to be cushioned until the entire grip has been applied to the object.

The preformed spiral grip illustrated in FIG. 1 can be easily applied to the object to which it is to be attached in the following manner, as shown in FIG. 8:

The user secures the object to which the grip is to be attached in a manner so that the object will not move and so that the portion of the object to be cushioned is accessible. This could be accomplished by inserting the end of the object where cushioning is not desired between the pages of a book, then closing the book around the object, leaving the end of the object where cushioning is desired accessible. The user then holds one end of the spiral grip in each hand. As the user rotates each hand towards the other, the open space 6 within the spiral shown in FIG. 4 will enlarge slightly in diameter, allowing the spiral grip to be positioned over the portion of the object where cushioning is desired. When the user releases the ends of the spiral grip, the open space 6 within the spiral will decrease in diameter, and the grip will tighten around the object to be cushioned. The grip may be removed by reversing this method.

The preformed spiral grip illustrated in FIG. 1 may also be installed and removed by gently twisting the spiral on to and off of the object to be cushioned, as illustrated in FIG. 9.

While the foregoing description and drawings represent the preferred embodiment of the invention, it will be understood that various additions, modifications, and substitutions may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Therefore, the present invention is not limited to only the embodiments specifically described herein. In particular, it will be clear to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms, structures, arrangements, proportions, and with other elements, materials, and components, without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention may be used with many modifications of structure, arrangement, proportions, materials, and components and otherwise, used in the practice of the invention, which are particularly adapted to specific environments and operative requirements without departing from the principles of the present invention. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.