Title:
TRANSFER UNIT FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH PARTIAL OR TOTAL DISABILITY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A transfer system for individuals with a partial or total disability is disclosed whereby, the system is configured to be relatively portable. The system comprises a collapsible frame that is configured to be disassembled and stored in a relatively transportable case such that persons suffering from a partial or total disability may travel outside of the confines of his or her home.



Inventors:
Bjork, Ralph (Platteville, WI, US)
Bjork, Kathy (Platteville, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/739453
Publication Date:
10/25/2007
Filing Date:
04/24/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/159, 280/633
International Classes:
A47C13/00; A47B3/12; A63C9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LONG, ROBERT FRANKLIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOYLE FREDRICKSON S.C. (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
We hereby claim:

1. A portable transfer system for disabled persons comprising: a) a horizontal bar substantially equal in length to a width of a wheelchair to receive the wheelchair beneath the bar, the bar supporting a winch between two ends of the bar; b) first releasable joints at the two ends of the horizontal bar; c) legs extending downward from the releasable joints, each leg having a second releasable joint dividing each leg into at least a first and second portion for transportation; and d) a harness coupled to the winch, the harness capable of supporting a disabled person, whereby the system may be disassembled such that the bar and the leg pairs can be stored in parallel in a case.

2. The portable transfer system of claim 1, wherein the leg pairs are generally splayed from a single point.

3. The portable transfer system of claim 1, further including stabilizing feet attached to a bottom end of at least two of the legs, the stabilizing feet extending outward along an axis perpendicular to the bar to resist tipping of the legs in a direction perpendicular to the bar.

4. The portable transfer system of claim 3 wherein the feet are attached to the legs by a third releasable joint.

5. The portable transfer system of claim 1 wherein the first releasable joints allow disconnection of the legs from the bar.

6. The portable transfer system of claim 1, wherein the second releasable joints allow separation of the first and second portions of the legs.

7. The portable transfer system of claim 6, wherein the second releasable joints are collars receiving ends of the legs.

8. The portable transfer system of claim 7, wherein the second releasable joints further include pins extending through the collars and legs to fixedly hold the legs and collars together.

9. The portable transfer system of claim 1, wherein the winch is battery operated.

10. The portable transfer system of claim 1, wherein the harness comprises a first and second support strap, the first strap configured to be wrapped around a person's back and under the person's arm, the second strap configured to be wrapped around the person's knees.

11. A method of constructing a portable transfer system comprising the steps of: a) securing a horizontal bar, the horizontal bar having a length substantially equal to that of a wheelchair; b) connecting two leg pairs to first releasable joints of the horizontal bar, the legs comprising second releasable joints dividing the legs into a first and second portion; c) attaching a winch to the horizontal bar; d) coupling a harness capable of supporting a disabled person's body weight to the winch.

12. The method of constructing a portable transfer system of claim 11, further comprising a second connecting step wherein stabilizing feet are secured to at least two of the legs.

13. The method of constructing a portable transfer system of claim 11, further comprising a locking step wherein the legs are secured to the horizontal bar by a collar that receives ends of the legs.

14. The method of constructing a portable transfer system of claim 13, further including a second locking step, wherein the legs are further secured to the horizontal bar by a pin extending through the collar and leg to hold the collars and leg together.

15. A method of lifting and transferring a disabled person comprising the steps of: a) providing a lifting system including a horizontal bar having joints at two ends thereof, wherein two leg pairs are releasably coupled to the bar by way of the joints, the bar further including a winch coupled thereto; b) fitting flexible harness around the person; c) attaching the harness to the winch; d) advancing the winch so as to move the person to a position of suspension beneath the horizontal bar.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein the harness comprises of a first body strap and a second body strap and wherein step (b) includes the steps of: i) wrapping the first body strap behind a person's back and under his or her armpits; ii) looping the second body strap under the person's knees; and wherein step (c) attaches ends of the body straps to the winch.

17. The method of claim 15 wherein the harness comprises a hammock having corners and wherein step (b) includes the steps of: i) positioning the hammock beneath the person; ii) attaching corners of the hammock to a spreader holding corners of the hammock separated; and wherein step (c) attaches the spreader to the winch.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/794395 filed on Apr. 24, 2006.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED R & D

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to assist and transfer devices for disabled persons. More specifically, the present invention relates to a portable apparatus for assisting in the transfer of individuals who are partially or totally disabled.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

Previously conceived lifting and hoist systems designed for lifting and transferring disabled individuals from place to place suffer from various disadvantages. For example, some systems are principally designed for use in the person's home or for use in a hospital setting. Such systems are typically fixed in one place and cannot be moved around the person's home. Some prior systems were designed to be portable so that the system may be moved from place to place within the person's home. The aforementioned systems, however, have the disadvantage that they cannot be used outside of the home, and thus, the individual further requires additional assistance when traveling outside of his or her home.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,694,654 to Roy is one example of a lifting and transfer systems known in the art. The system comprises a lifting arm assembly and a support, the lifting arm assembly providing a lifting arm rotatable about a vertical axis. A mounting rotatably mounts the lifting arm to the support so that the lifting arm cantilevers from the mounting. An extendable and retractable lifting cable depends from an outer end of the lifting arm. Two motors are provided for operating the system, and a controller is further provided to operate the two motors. The lifting and transfer system described therein further discloses that the system may be portable, however, the overall design of the system does not break down so that the system may be easily transported in a relatively small storage container by the individual.

Therefore, what is desired is a lift or hoist system for lifting and transferring a person from one place to another that is designed such that it may easily be used in a variety of different places.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a lift system for a disabled or partially disabled person that may be easily transported outside of the person's home comprising a single horizontal bar substantially equal in length to a width of a wheelchair to receive the wheelchair beneath the bar, the bar supporting a winch between two ends of the bar. The system further includes first releasable joints at the two ends of the horizontal bar and leg pairs extending downward from the two ends of the horizontal bar from the first releasable joint, each leg pair having a second releasable joint dividing each leg into a first and second portion for transportation. Finally, the system includes a harness coupled to the winch, the harness capable of supporting a disabled person, whereby the system may be disassembled such that the bar and the leg pairs can be stored in parallel in a case.

It is another object of the present invention that the system be relatively lightweight to facilitate the transportation of the system.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a portable lift system wherein the legs are generally splayed from a single joint so as to provide a wider base to provide the system with more stability.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide stabilizing feet on the ends of the legs so as to further secure the system to prevent tipping or rocking of the system.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a first releasable joint at the ends of the horizontal bar of the system so that the legs of the system may be detached from the horizontal bar to facilitate disassembly and transportation.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a second releasable joints to divide the legs of the system into substantially equal first and second portions; thus, providing a system that is easily disassembled for transport.

It is another object of the present invention that the first releasable joints are collars configured to receive the ends of the legs configured to provide a secure connection between the legs and bar. In addition, a pin may be provided to extend through the collars and legs to further stabilize the connection between the collars and the legs.

In accordance with these objectives, a portable transfer system is provided that includes a single horizontal bar having a length substantially equal to the width of a wheelchair. The horizontal bar further includes releasable joints at its two ends for connecting to the ends of the leg pairs of the system. The leg pairs extend downwardly from the joints of the horizontal bar and further include releasable joints that serve to divide the legs into first and second portions. A winch is coupled to the horizontal bar of the system and further includes a harness that is coupled to the winch for supporting a disabled or partially disabled person.

Various alternative embodiments and modifications to the invention will be made apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art by the following detailed description taken together with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings illustrate the best mode currently contemplated of practicing the present invention.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the portable transfer system of the present invention positioned above a person to be transferred, the transfer unit providing two opposed A-frames separated by a bar supporting a winch;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the system of FIG. 1 and a storage case for transporting the system;

FIG. 3 is a detailed view of a releasable joint allowing for disassembly of the A-frame of the system for travel;

FIG. 4 is a detailed view of a front foot of one of the A-frames of the present system;

FIG. 5 is a view of a harness used for moving the person to be transferred using the transfer unit;

FIG. 6 is a view of another embodiment of the harness of FIG. 5 for moving the person to be transferred using the transfer unit; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a crossbar used for attaching a winch cable to a hammock-style harness.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings and in particular FIGS. 1 and 2, the transfer system 10 comprises a single horizontal bar 12 having a substantially rectangular cross-section. The bar 12 is substantially equal in length to the width of a standard wheelchair so as to be capable of receiving a wheelchair beneath the bar 12. The bar 12 includes first and second ends 14 and 16, respectively. At each of the two ends 14 and 16, the bar 12 includes releasable joints 18 and 20 respectively. The releasable joints 18 and 20 comprise a collar connection for the connection of legs 22 thereto. The joints 18 and 20 may further include pins 21 extending through the legs 22 and into joints 18 and 20 to provide further stability to the connection at the joints 18 and 20.

The legs 22 are generally splayed from the releasable joints 18 and 20 along the axis of the bar 12 and perpendicularly from that axis, from a single point, and extend downwardly from the ends 14 and 16 of horizontal bar 12 in mutual separation. The splaying of the legs 22 provides a substantially wide base for providing support to the system 10 such that the weight of a user is safely supported thereon.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, the legs 22 further include a second releasable joint 24. The second releasable joint 24 is located such that the legs 22 are substantially divided into equal upper and lower portions 26 and 28, respectively, by the second releasable joint 24. The second releasable joints 24 comprise a collar 27 attached to the upper portion 26 of the leg 22 and sized so to concentrically receive the upper end of the lower potion 28 of the leg 22 so that the upper portion 26 of leg 22 may be releasably attached to the lower portion 28 of legs 22. The inner diameters of the collars 27 are substantially equal to the outer diameter of the ends of legs 22 so as to create a secure connection when the ends of legs 22 are inserted therein. The second releasable joints 24 may further include a pin 29 for further securing the connection between the ends of legs 22 and the collars 27, wherein the pin 29 is inserted through the collars 27 and legs 22. The legs 22 are configured such that upon removing the ends of the legs 22 from the collars 27 of second releasable joints 24, the legs 22 may be folded and stored in parallel in a case as will be explained in further detail below.

In addition, the legs 22 of the system 10 may be tubes. The use of tubes allows the legs 22 to remain relatively lightweight so that the user may easily transport them. The tubes should be constructed of a material sufficiently strong enough to support the weight of the intended user of the system 10.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 4, an optional third releasable joint 30 may further be included at the ends 32 of lower leg portions 28 for the connection of stabilizing feet 33. Stabilizing feet 33 are preferably attached to two of the legs 22 one side of the axis of the bar 12 to provide further support to system 10. The feet 33 extend generally outwardly from the end 32 as held by a cantilevered beam 35 along an axis perpendicular to the bar 12 to resist tipping of the legs in a direction generally perpendicular to bar 12. The third releasable joint 30 may comprise a pin and collar connection of the type described above. The feet 33 are not critical in providing additional stability to system 10, but may be used, for example, to provide additional stability when the feet 33 can be placed under a bed and the system 10 is used to lift a person to be transferred from his or her bed and ease him or her into, for example, a wheelchair. In addition, the lift can be utilized to lift a person so that the wheelchair can be exchanged for a commode or wheeled shower/commode chair.

The optional stabilizing feet may be removed or rotated outward when used, for example, in hotel rooms where often the beds include frames that extend to the floor preventing structure from extending under the bed.

Turning now to FIGS. 1, 5 and 6, a winch 34 accomplishes the actual lifting of the user of system 10. Winch 34 is secured to the horizontal bar 12 and further includes a cable 36 extending generally downwardly from the horizontal bar 12 for connection to a harness 38. The electric motor provides a steel cable 36 for support. If a hand winch is utilized, the cable 36 may be comprised of a variety of different materials such as, for example, rope, rubber, or similar such material that is substantially strong enough to support the weight of the user that is supported in harness 38. The winch 34 may be either manually operated or preferably may be an electrically powered winch. In the latter case, the winch 34 comprises a spool around which a cable attached to the cable 36 is wound under the power of an electric motor which may be connected via electrical leads 42 to a portable power unit 44 providing internal rechargeable batteries.

Referring specifically to FIG. 1, a portable carrying case 46 is shown. The case 46 of the present invention is generally equal in height to that of a standard golf bag. In addition, the case 46 may be custom fabricated if so desired. Alternatively, any one of many commercially available golf bag travel covers will accommodate all of the components and provide separate space for storage of the lock pins or other accessories. The height of the case 46 makes it easily portable such that the user of the system 10 may travel with the carrying case 46. The entire system 10 is configured such that the bar 12, legs 22 and feet 33 may be collapsed at the respective releasable joints such that the system may be easily stored in parallel in the case 46. The winch 34 and harness 38 are also capable of storage in the case 46 for easy transportation.

Turning now to FIGS. 5 and 7 a first harness 38 for supporting and lifting the person to be transferred is shown wherein the harness 38 comprises a hammock 48. The hammock 48 is shown having a body portion 50 and two leg supports 52. When the hammock 48 is used as the harness 38, a crossbar 62 is attached to the cable 36, for example, by a spring clip 60 terminating the cable 36. The crossbar 62 provides two crossing bars that support downwardly extending hooks 64 arranged generally at the vertices of a horizontally oriented rectangle.

Loops 54 of strapping are attached to the upper corners of the body portion 50 of the hammock 48 and the free ends of the leg supports 52. Loops 54 of the upper corners of the body portion 50 are received by two adjacent hooks 64 toward a rear of the crossbar 62 while the loops 54 attached to the free end of the leg supports 52 are attached to the remaining two adjacent hooks 64 at the front of the crossbar 62. The crossbar 62 thus spreads the corners off a hammock 48 which would otherwise naturally be drawn together under the weight of the individual. The subsequent operation of the winch 34 while the person is seated in the hammock 48 advances the cable 36 that is wrapped around the spool of the winch 34 such that the person is raised from, for example, a bed or other location from which he or she needs to be transferred from. It is important to note, in this regard, that the cable 36 allows for rotation of the person being assisted while they are supported by the unit 10 thus facilitating the transfer process, for example, from bed to wheelchair which may be accomplished with a pivoting during the transfer process.

Referring now to FIG. 6, a second method of supporting and lifting the person to be transferred is illustrated. The harness 38 comprises two body straps 56 and 58 that are positioned next to the cable 36. In use, one of the straps is looped behind the person's back and under his or her armpits, with its end loops snapped to the cable 36. The other strap is looped under the person's knees and the ends of the loops of that strap are also snapped to the rope. Similar to the aforementioned method of supporting and lifting the user, the advancement of the cable 36 by the winch 34 acts to raise the harness 38 and therefore the person is lifted from, rotated, and transferred when moving for example, from his or her bed to the wheelchair. Direct transfers from the wheelchair for example, to a wheeled shower chair, is facilitated by moving the person upward, removing the wheelchair and placement of the wheeled shower chair so that the person can be placed downward directly on the shower chair.

Various alternatives are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.





 
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