Title:
Method and apparatus for controlling repetitive movements
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Method and apparatus for controlling movement patterns in repetitive movements, in particular in cyclical or alternating movements defined by the parameters of the amplitude and frequency of the movement, in which these parameters are correlated with the mean velocity of a body effectively or fictively driven forward by the movement as well as a device for realizing the method.



Inventors:
Korfmacher, Georg (Munchen, DE)
Application Number:
11/725145
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
03/16/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B22/06; A63B69/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ROLAND, DANIEL F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PANITCH SCHWARZE BELISARIO & NADEL LLP (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for controlling movement patterns in repetitive movements, in particular in cyclical or alternating movements defined by the parameters of the amplitude and frequency of the movement, characterized by the fact that these parameters (A, F) are correlated with the mean velocity (V) of a body effectively or fictively driven forward by the movement.

2. The method according to claim 1, characterized by the fact that the relationship between the parameters (A, F, V) is adjusted according to the equation X=A×F/V.

3. The method according to claim 2, characterized by the fact that the value of the factor X is adjusted to 0,3.

4. An apparatus comprising means to realize a cyclical or alternating movement, characterized by the fact that it comprises means (5, 7; 18) for setting the amplitude (A), frequency (F) or mean speed (V) of a body effectively or fictively driven forward by the movement.

5. The apparatus according to claim 4, characterized by the fact that the length of the crank (5; 11; 13; 22) and thus the amplitude (A) of the movement is adjustable.

6. The apparatus according to one of claim 5, characterized by the fact that it comprises a control unit (7; 18) with means to adjust the amplitude (A) of the movement, its mean real or fictive velocity (V) as well as its frequency (F).

7. The apparatus according to claim 6, characterized by the fact that the control unit (7; 18) comprises a calculator determining the amplitude (A) of the movement as a function of its frequency (F) and velocity (V).

8. The apparatus according to claim 6, characterized by the fact that the control unit (7; 18) comprises a calculator determining the frequency (F) of the movement as a function of its amplitude (A) and velocity (V).

9. The apparatus according to claim 6, characterized by the fact that the control unit (7; 18) comprises a calculator determining the velocity (V) as a function of the amplitude (A) and frequency (F) of the movement.

10. The apparatus according to one of claim 9, characterized by the fact that the calculator comprises means to determine the amplitude (A), frequency (F) and/or velocity (V) on the basis of the Strouhal equation.

11. The apparatus according to claim 10, characterized by the fact that the Strouhal number has he value 0,3.

12. The apparatus according to one of claim 11, characterized by the fact that the calculator comprises means to write a force-time-diagram.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of International Application No. PCT/EP2005/010076, entitled “METHOD AND DEVICE FOR CONTROLLING RECURRENT MOVEMENTS” by Korfmacher and filed Sep. 19, 2005, which in turn claims priority from German Patent Application No. DE102004045140, entitled same and filed Sep. 19, 2004, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety and for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to a method for controlling movement patterns in repetitive movements, in particular in cyclical or alternating movements defined by the parameters of the amplitude (A) and frequency (F) of the movement, as well as a device for realizing the method.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Such method are well known in training or therapy devices in the form of bicycle or rowing devices (ergometers) where the person concerned is obliged to exercise against (a) resistance or depending on his pulse measurement. The pulse measurement, however, is a relatively irregular value and depends on the general constitution of the person. Furthermore, it needs explanation and very often is misunderstood or misinterpreted by the person considered. This may lead to erroneous demands on the circulatory system or to counter-indicated results. In particular, constant loads may result in undesirable collateral effects or even damage. The currently known methods and exercise devices comprise in particular pulse measurements, performance measurements, measurements of the step frequency, the speed and the time. These measurements have to be correlated and adjusted by complex medical equations, which frequently are not understood by the person exercising, and therefore induce to errors.

Importantly, these known devices essentially recruit mobiliser muscles that are recruited at ≧40% of (the) maximum voluntary muscle contraction. These devices are inadequate to train stabilizer muscles which are recruited at lesser loads.

Furthermore, currently known devices such as rowing ergometers necessitate a relatively high and complex mechanical design comprising a fly-wheel for storing the energy between two strokes (simulation of the inertia moment of the boat), a handle element connected to the fly-wheel through a chain, belt or cable (simulation of the paddle), a damping mechanism on the fly-wheel (simulation of the friction between the hull and the water) as well as haul-back mechanism (simulation of the starting situation). Thus, one has to do with numerous simulations, which inevitably, alone or in their combination, are subject to errors.

SUMMARY

The present invention, thus, proposes a method and apparatus, wherein the mechanical complexity of currently known devices is largely avoided so as to essentially simplify the method and apparatus and enable the understanding by the person exercising by a minimum of parameters, and wherein the person exercising is not stressed by pulse numbers or other simulations, in particular when under permanent load, but just by the optimum use of his body energy, for the control of which only one single objective parameter is necessary.

The present invention suggests a method and apparatus, as specified above, to correlate the parameters (A, F) with the mean velocity (V) of a body really or fictively moved forward by the movement.

In a device according to the invention, three values are important in this context, namely the amplitude of a movement, the frequency of the movement as well as the desired real or fictive speed of a body driven forward by the movement. The amplitude is given by the total diameter of a pedal drive, the frequency by the number of rotations of the pedal drive per second and the desired speed in km/h according to walking, (trotting), jogging or running of the person exercising.

What is important is to optimally correlate these parameters in the sense of an optimum use of the body energy of the person concerned. The model for such optimum relationship is nature itself with the migration of birds. They have to overcome long distances without overstressing their body forces (energy). On the other hand they do not reach their goal if they do not make optimum use of their energy.

Physics teach us in fluid mechanics an equation which puts the above mentioned parameters in an optimum relationship, the so-called Strouhal equation defined as follows: St=A×F/V. This equation is equally valid for cyclical as well as for oscillating movement patterns. It is independent of any mass to be moved or from any outer resistive load. It describes a pure movement pattern in relation to a speed.

Therefore, in an advantageous embodiment of the inventive method and apparatus, the relationship between amplitude, frequency and speed is adjusted by the equation X=A×F/V. In a particularly advantageous embodiment of the invention the value of X is 0,3.

Science has confirmed that the Strouhal number St defined by this equation is between 0,2 and 0,4 for optimum energy performance of fish and birds. This applies for sardines aw well as for whales, for bats as well as for swallows or geese. This value seems to be an evolutionary optimum valid in the whole universe. Dimensionless numbers are important in biomechanics as they may imply by their constancy dynamic similarities, despite possible differences in media and size.

The device according to the invention provided for realizing the method accomplishing the objective described above comprises means to perform a cyclical or alternating movement and suggests that means are provided to adjust the amplitude, frequency and the desired mean speed of the body really of fictively driven by the movement.

On the device according to the invention and adequate for realizing the method the mean speed V can be chosen according to the target idea such as walking, jogging or running, where walking is i.e. 6 km/h. St is given with 0,3. It is important now to adjust A and F in such a way that the Strouhal equation is satisfied with St=0,3. In case the amplitude is given with a (fix) diameter of i.e. 0,3 m for the pedal drive, the frequency must adjusted to 1,67 Hz to achieve optimum use of the body's own energy.

Imagining that the person exercising shall walk, at these adjustments, for ½ hour using optimum body energy, it is important to control the frequency of the pedal movement at 1,67 Hz. This means that one single and objective value only is decisive, in this case the frequency, which is totally independent of any judgment or arbitrary decision and which is not subject to simulation errors.

On the other hand and according to the invention it is also possible to bring a person back to a movement pattern with optimum energy use without overstressing him. A frail person may not immediately be able to reach or hold a frequency calculated for him over a longer period of time. That means that an objective value is fixed independently of the current condition of the patient.

After an exercise according to the invention other well known load tests may be performed to evaluate the condition of the patient such as energy balance, pulse rate and other medical key values.

The device according to the invention in particular has no energy storing masses and thus there are no complex mechanics or controls that correlate energies and losses with medical key values as in well known devices. The device according to the invention, therefore, works much more precisely and is essentially less prone to failures.

Due to the absence of masses to be moved, the device according to the invention is particularly suited for children, elderly and people who are not, or are only insufficiently, able to control their movements. Due to the simplicity of its design even bed-rest patients in a supine position can use it. By properly choosing the value for V it is possible to determine movement patterns from slow walk to fast run without overstressing the patient energetically. As there is no mass to be moved in the device according to the invention, it can also be used under weightlessness conditions for the controlled training of astronauts.

With the device according to the invention it is furthermore possible to bring a person to his best performance level at optimum energy use. Thus, the method according to the invention and the device for its realization can be used to determine the optimum longtime energy performance level of a person. Based on this knowledge the person then can do further and well-known optimizations.

This applies e.g. for a long distance runner. It is easy to determine the mean speed to achieve a desired performance. The runner will train according the method and apparatus of the invention with the aim to reach the optimum frequency or step length at optimum energy performance adequate for that mean speed. With this knowledge he then will use known means and methods to train for special stress situations during the starting phase, for intermediate or final sprints.

The situation is different for a patient who shall be reeducated e.g. after an accident to regain his optimum energy performance. Here again, the target speed would be walking, jogging, running etc. as well as the optimum Strouhal number of 0, 3. For a given movement amplitude of a bicycle or rowing type device it is possible to bring the patient progressively back to his optimum frequency. Pulse measurements may serve to control that there will be no risk of overstress for the circulatory system in particular for a rehabilitation measure. In this case, the pulse frequency is not used as a determining parameter, yet just for the purpose of monitoring. With St=0,3 and an adjustment of A and F feasible for the patient the optimum pulse frequency will come, so to say, automatically by the time. In the same way it is possible to imagine an over-weight person who is not immediately able to reach or hold a frequency given for a certain movement amplitude over a longer time. It is well possible to help the person to lose weight by means of well known methods. The method according to the invention will then serve to determine the long term energy performance on the basis of objective, reproducible and repeatable criteria.

According to the invention it is also possible to adjust the amplitude and frequency according to the capacity and condition of the person exercising and then to calculate the speed with St=0,3. In this case St=0,3 directly is the single unique parameter controlling the movement. Therefore and according to the method and apparatus of the invention it is possible to train specifically stabilizer muscles which are recruited at only 20-30% of the maximum voluntary muscle contraction. By holding the control constant at St=0,3 it is also possible, according to the invention, to avoid that due to unconscious or uncontrolled movement or load muscle forces come into play (≧40% maximum voluntary contraction) which then would involuntarily recruit mobiliser muscles and switch off stabilizer muscles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention has other objects and features of advantage that will be more readily apparent from the following description of the best mode of carrying out the invention and the appended claims, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevation schematic diagram of one specific embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention for a rotary movement.

FIG. 2 a side elevation schematic diagram of another specific embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention for reciprocating movement.

FIG. 3 a side elevation schematic diagram of another specific embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention for various movement patterns.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

While the present invention will be described with reference to a few specific embodiments, the description is illustrative of the invention and is not to be construed as limiting the invention. Various modifications to the present invention can be made to the preferred embodiments by those skilled in the art without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. It will be noted here that for a better understanding, like components are designated by like reference numerals throughout the various figures.

The device according to the invention comprises a base 1 with a bearing structure 2. A crank 5 is pivoted on this bearing structure 2 by means of a bearing 3. The crank may be a pair of pedals or a double lever hand crank. Pedals or handles 4 are pivoted at the free ends of the crank 5. These pedals or handles may be provided with well known retention buckles.

A suitable cable 6 connects the device to a control unit 7 for transmitting the number of rotations of the crank to the control unit 7. In this unit the freely selectable mean speed V can be set as well, i.e. the amplitude of the crank 5. The control unit 7 furthermore comprises a timer T as well as a display 8 displaying the optimum work of the device according to the invention.

The control unit 7 can be connected to a monitor 9 visualizing, saving or printing recorded data.

The device according to the invention works as follows: A person is for instance lying on the base 1 and activates the crank 5 with his feet by means of the pedals 4. The device may equally well present the shape of a bicycle. A desired mean speed such as walking, jogging or running is set in V on the control unit 7 with the dimension km/h. The diameter adjusted on the crank 5 is set in A with the dimension meter (m). A built-in calculator now calculates the frequency F of the crank 5 according to the Strouhal equation and with the value 0,3 for the Strouhal number. The frequency currently performed on the crank 5 is visualized on the display 8 through a color display comprising an optimum, green central area as well as areas for showing deviations up or down.

The person training can now observe on the display 8 whether she/he is or remains in the optimum frequency area. The training time can be adjusted in T. It is independent from the calculator. For later evaluation purposes a protocol may be registered by means of the monitor 9, showing i.e. the frequency behavior over the time.

With a fixed crank 5 length and thus with a fixed amplitude A the control unit 7 may as well vary V to calculate the optimum frequency. It would also be possible to set the frequency F and vary the amplitude.

FIG. 2 shows another embodiment of the device according to the invention for linear and reciprocating movements. The bearing structure 2 according to FIG. 1 comprises here a rotating crank disk 10 acting together with push-pull bars 11, 12. At its rotating end, bar 11 is pivoted on the crank disk 10 along a coulisse 13. This allows for determining the amplitude A of the movement. Bar 12 is suitably located in a housing 14 and presents at its grip end a handle 15. As described in connection with FIG. 1, the device is connected to a control unit 7 on which the settings as described may be made. With this embodiment and together with an appropriate design it is possible, for instance, to control movements of fingers, head and feet.

As the device according to the invention doesn't need any fly-wheel or friction elements combined with complex mechanics, it can be built extremely lightweight. The device is not “loaded”. It only does control the movements.

The device according to the invention is particularly suited for long term exercises and for the “normal” training of the movement and muscle apparatus. It specifically does not aim at movements under external loads so that during its application false loads may be largely excluded. By reducing the exercise to one single out of three objective, yet variable, parameters to control the movement over a certain period of time, it is almost impossible for the person exercising to make any interpretation error. On the display 8 the person sees exactly whether she/he is in the optimum or sub-optimum area of the value calculated.

Due to the absence of masses the device according to the invention can equally well be used under weightlessness conditions. With the device according to the invention priority always is given to the optimum use of body own energy while doing a controlled, pre-defined movement over a longer period of time. This way, erroneous developments such as uncontrolled muscle build-up or wear of joints are avoided. As the device guides the user to perform natural movement patterns, the exercise on the device is not felt as an unpleasant load. The single (only) parameter that can be deliberately set by the user is the time. A healthy person will just set a desired time. With a sick or convalescent person, the time will be set by a doctor or physiotherapist according to medical indications. In any case, a person will stop exercising when she/he feels that he “walked” or “ran” enough or simply feels tired. As there are no forced movements in the device according to the invention that could be felt unnatural or over-stressing, the user doesn't feel over-taxed by the movement control.

Clearly, the invention is not limited to the embodiments shown and described. It encompasses any embodiment realizing the inventive idea. Thus, the method and apparatus according to the invention are not slavishly bound to the optimum factor value of 0,3. If, for a certain case or circumstance another factor should be indicated it is evidently possible to use that factor value without leaving the scope of the invention. It is also possible to use other means to realize movement patterns defined by amplitude and frequency. FIG. 3 shows a particularly advantageous embodiment of the invention. A base frame 16 is provided with a front post 17 presenting at its upper end a control unit 18. The front post 17 furthermore comprises a grip bar 19 connected to it via a hinge and lockable in different angle positions.

At its rear end, the base frame 16 furthermore comprises a support frame 20. On this support frame 20 a disk shaped crank shaft 21 is articulated, diagonally comprising a coulisse 22 for adjusting the length of the crank arm. The support frame 20 furthermore comprises a height adjustable bearing post 23 for a length adjustable saddle 24.

As schematically shown in FIG. 3 for one side only of the device according to the invention, the coulisse 22 comprises a not shown slide stone connected via a hinge with the rear end of a crank bar 25. The front end of this crank bar 25 is connected via a hinge to the lower end of a pendulum bar 26. With its upper end, this pendulum bar 26 is appropriately articulated on the front post 17 so that the circular movements of the crank disk 21 are translated, through the crank bar 25, into pendulum movements of the pendulum bars 26.

The crank bar 25 comprises a step plate 27 which can be fixed over its total length of the crank bar 25 so that it also can assume the position shown by the dotted lines.

The articulation of the pendulum bar 26 comprises fixation means not shown for adjustably holding oscillating arms 28 shown in dotted lines. The holding means allow the oscillating arms 28 to be adjusted in any angular position with respect to the pendulum arms 26.

The function of the particularly advantageous embodiment of the invention schematically shown in FIG. 3 is as follows;

The user sits on the saddle 24 adjusted in height and length according to the person's needs. At the same time, the grip bar 19 is adjusted in such a way that the person can grasp it comfortably. The desired radius of the crank arm is adjusted on the coulisse 22 according to the conditions of the person exercising. This gives the amplitude of the movement around the crankshaft 21. The step plates 27 are adjusted along the crank bar 25 in such a manner that any movement pattern from circular at the coulisse end of the crank bar 25 to slightly bow shaped length-ways movement at the pendulum bar end of the crank bar 25. Between these two extreme positions various positions of the step plate 27 are possible so as to produce almost elliptical movement patterns. As described in connection with FIG. 1, the number of rotations of the crankshaft 21 is counted and sent to the control unit 18 where they are processed according to the Strouhal equation.

The person can exercise while sitting on the saddle 24 or by freely standing. It is also possible that the person is suspended in a trapeze not shown over the device or lies on a table or bed not shown behind the device for activating the step plates 27. In such a case the post 23 and the saddle 24 would be removed from the support frame 20.

The person, however, may also execute up and down movements with his/her arms or legs by activating the oscillating arms 28.

The embodiment of the invention according to FIG. 3 allows for numerous movement patterns with only one device.

According to the invention such embodiment can be advantageous where the amplitude and frequency are given and the speed is calculated with 0,3. In this case the single unique control parameter is the value 0,3 showing up on the display 8 as a green area. This is also applicable to a railway trolley where the activation of the handle can be programmed and controlled in a manner similar to a rowing boat mechanism.

Without leaving the scope of the invention it is also possible that the control unit 7 calculates a force-time-diagram shown or printed on the monitor 9 to register the work performed by the movement of the person exercising.