Title:
Stretching apparatus for knee flexor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stretching apparatus for a knee flexor enables a patient having spasticity in a knee flexor and/or contracted muscle to be stretched for treatment and maintain the stretched position without help from another person such as a therapist. The stretching apparatus includes a support part adjustable in angle with respect to a floor, and arranged to support a rear part of the trunk and head of a user; a backing part for supporting a lower limb of the user in a stretched position, the backing part having one end hingeably connected to the support part; and an adjustment part for rotating the backing part at a predetermined angle with respect to the support part. The lower limb of the user can be rotated at the predetermined angle with respect to the trunk and head, thereby stretching the knee flexor.



Inventors:
Lee, Yang-soo (Daegu, KR)
Application Number:
11/807061
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/25/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/907
International Classes:
A63B21/00; A63B23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWTHORNE, OPHELIA ALTHEA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENTS+TMS, P.C. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A stretching apparatus for a knee flexor, the apparatus comprising: a support part adjustable in angle with respect to a floor wherein the support part is arranged to support a rear part of a trunk and a head of a user; a backing part for supporting a lower limb of the user in a stretched position wherein the backing part has an end hingeably connected to the support part; and an adjustment part for rotating the backing part at a predetermined angle with respect to the support part wherein the lower limb of the user is rotated at the predetermined angle with respect to an upper torso of the user wherein the knee flexor is stretched.

2. The stretching apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a base contacting the floor and further wherein the support part has a sliding plate wherein the sliding plate has a portion hinged rotatably to the base and further wherein the support part has a support angle adjustment part for supporting the sliding plate in a position rotated to a predetermined angle with respect to the base.

3. The stretching apparatus of claim 2 further comprising: a support bar wherein the support bar has a first portion coupled with a rear surface of the sliding plate at a point where the base and the sliding plate define the predetermined angle wherein the support bar has a second portion coupled with the base.

4. The stretching apparatus of claim 2 further comprising: a gear attached to the base wherein the sliding plate has a gear attached to the sliding plate wherein the gear of the sliding plate is meshed with the gear of the base further wherein the support angle adjustment part has a driving mechanism for driving the gears.

5. The stretching apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a backing plate of a predetermined length for supporting the lower limb of the user wherein the backing plate has a hinge-coupled portion wherein the backing plate is rotatable with respect to the support part and further wherein the backing part has a fixing part mounted on the backing plate wherein the fixing part fixes a knee of the user in an extended position.

6. The stretching apparatus of claim 5 wherein the fixing part is a hook and loop fastener.

7. The stretching apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a cylinder wherein the cylinder has a first portion hinge-coupled with the backing part and further wherein the cylinder has a second portion arranged to contact the base wherein a length between the first portion of the cylinder and the second portion of the cylinder is adjustable.

8. The stretching apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: an adjustment bar wherein the adjustment bar has a first portion coupled with the backing part and further wherein the adjustment bar has a second portion arranged to contact the base wherein the adjustment bar has a plurality of members of various lengths wherein one of the plurality of members having a suitable length is selected and coupled with the backing part according to an angle between the backing part and the adjustment part.

9. The stretching apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a gear attached to the backing part and further wherein the adjustment part has a gear attached to the adjustment part wherein the gear of the adjustment part is meshed with the gear of the backing part and further wherein wherein the adjustment part has a driving mechanism for driving the gears.

10. The stretching apparatus of claim 2 further comprising: a cloth on a contact surface of the sliding plate wherein the cloth reduces friction of the contact surface.

11. The stretching apparatus of claim 2 further comprising: a base contacting the floor wherein the support part has a cloth attached to a frame having one portion moving up and down with respect to the base, and further wherein the support part has a support angle adjustment part for supporting the frame in a position rotated for a predetermined angle with respect to the base.

12. The stretching apparatus of claim 2 wherein the sliding plate is movable and slidable up and down.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a stretching apparatus for a knee flexor, more particularly, by which a patient having spasticity in a knee flexor and/or contracted muscle can be stretched for treatment and maintain the stretched position without help from another person such as a therapist.

2. Description of the Related Art

Physical conditions such as cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury coexist with muscle spasticity or joint contracture. To treat the spasticity or contracture, a physical therapist (will be simply referred to as “therapist”) stretches a joint of a patient with hands and maintains the joint in the stretched position. In particular, in order to stretch a knee flexor, a treatment is performed by stretching a patient in a position as shown in FIG. 5.

The knee flexor is one of knee muscles. This muscle when properly treated allows the patient to walk and move the leg freely. As shown in FIG. 5, in order to treat the knee flexor, a therapist raises the leg in a stretched position and then maintains the raised position for a predetermined time to stretch the spastic muscle or contracted joint.

However, this treatment involves the therapist throughout the entire treatment of the patient. It is a physically hard work and raises treatment cost since it should be performed manually. In addition, correct analysis of the degree of stretching (e.g., time and amount of muscle stretching) is difficult and thus treatment can be rarely objectified.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has been made to solve the foregoing problems of the prior art and therefore an object of certain embodiments of the present invention is to provide a stretching apparatus capable of allowing a patient to remain in a stretched position during knee flexor stretching without having to be treated continuously by a therapist.

The present invention relates to a stretching apparatus for a knee flexor, more particularly, by which a patient having spasticity in a knee flexor and/or contracted muscle can be stretched for treatment and maintain the stretched position without help from another person such as a therapist.

Another object of the invention is to provide a stretching apparatus capable of enabling objectified management on treatment data such as time and degree of stretching, enabling quantified treatment, releasing the therapist from physical load, and thus optimizing manpower management.

According to an aspect of the invention for realizing the object, the invention provides a stretching apparatus for a knee flexor. The stretching apparatus includes a support part adjustable in angle with respect to a floor, and arranged to support a rear part of the trunk and head of a user; a backing part for supporting a lower limb of the user in a stretched position, the backing part having one end hingeably connected to the support part; and an adjustment part for rotating the backing part at a predetermined angle with respect to the support part. The lower limb of the user can be rotated at the predetermined angle with respect to the trunk and head, thereby stretching the knee flexor.

Preferably, the support part includes a base contacting the floor; a sliding plate having one portion moving up and down with respect to the base; and a support angle adjustment part for supporting the sliding plate in a position rotated for a predetermined angle with respect to the base.

More preferably, the support angle adjustment part comprises a support bar having a first portion coupled with a rear surface of the sliding plate, at a point where the base and the sliding plate define a predetermined angle therebetween, and a second portion coupled with the base.

In addition, it is preferable that the base may have a gear attached thereto, and the sliding plate may have a gear attached thereto and meshed with the gear of the base, and wherein the support angle adjustment part may comprise a driving mechanism for driving the gears.

Preferably, the backing part includes a backing plate of a predetermined length for supporting the lower limb of the user, the backing plate having one portion hinge-coupled to be rotatable with respect to the support part; and a fixing part mounted on the backing plate to fix a knee of the user in an extended position.

Here, the fixing part may comprise a Velcro tape.

Preferably, the adjustment part comprises a cylinder having a first portion hinge-coupled with the backing part and a second portion arranged to contact the base, wherein the length between the first and second portions is adjustable. In addition, the adjustment part may comprise an adjustment bar having a first portion coupled with the backing part and a second portion arranged to contact the base, wherein the adjustment bar comprises a plurality of members of various lengths, whereby one of the members having a suitable length is selected and coupled with the backing part according to an angle between the backing part and the adjustment part.

Preferably, the backing part has a gear attached thereto, and the adjustment part has a gear attached thereto and meshed with the gear of the backing part, and wherein the adjustment part comprises a driving mechanism for driving the gears.

Preferably, the stretching apparatus may further include a smooth cloth of little friction provided on a contact surface of the sliding plate, and the sliding plate may be movable and slidable up and down.

Alternatively, the support part includes a base contacting the floor; a smooth cloth attached to a frame having one portion moving up and down with respect to the base; and a support angle adjustment part for supporting the frame in a position rotated for a predetermined angle with respect to the base.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other objects, features and other advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1a to 1c are views illustrating a first embodiment of a stretching apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view illustrating a second embodiment of the stretching apparatus of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a view illustrating a third embodiment of the stretching apparatus of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a view illustrating an alternative to a sliding plate of the stretching apparatus of the invention; and

FIG. 5 is a view illustrating a conventional stretching method.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown.

FIGS. 1a to 1c are views illustrating a first embodiment of a stretching apparatus according to the invention. Referring to FIGS. 1a to 1c, the stretching apparatus of the invention includes a support part, a backing part and an adjustment part. The support part serves to contact and support a rear part of the trunk and head of a user (patient), and the backing part serves to support lower limbs of the user (patient) to raise the whole parts of the lower limbs in stretched position. The adjustment part is provided to adjust the rotation angle of the backing part so that the backing part can be rotated with respect to the support part at a predetermined angle and stay in the rotated position.

First, the support part is provided to be adjusted in angles with respect to the ground. For this purpose, as shown in FIGS. 1a-1c, a base 12 is provided contacting the ground and coupled at one end of thereof with one part of a sliding plate 11. Preferably, the sliding plate 11 is hingeably coupled with the base 12 to be able to hinge about an axis. With this combination, the sliding plate 11 can be arranged in a desired angle with respect to the base 12.

The stretching apparatus also includes a support angle adjustment part 13 for arranging and supporting the sliding plate 11 in an inclined position with respect to the base. In FIGS. 1a to 1c, the support angle adjustment part 13 is coupled with a rear portion of the sliding plate 11 and with the base 12 to support the sliding plate 11 while maintaining a predetermined angle with respect to the base. Here, the support angle adjustment part 13 may be a support bar having one portion coupled with a specific region of the sliding plate 11 and another portion coupled with the base. The sliding plate or the base may be provided with a plurality of coupling points for the support bar so that the sliding plate can be supported at various angles. Alternatively, the angle may be adjusted by providing a plurality of support bars with different lengths and selectively coupling one support bar of a suitable length according to the angle.

In addition, as shown in FIGS. 1a to 1c, the support bar 13 may be a length-adjustable cylinder with one portion hinged to the sliding plate 11 and another portion hinged to the base 12.

The backing part includes backing plates 30 and 32 and fixing portions 31. The backing plate 30 has a length sufficient to support a lower limb of the user, with one portion thereof hinged to the support part. The backing plates 30 and 32 may provided in a pair in the sliding plate 11, in such a fashion that the backing plates 30 and 32 can be hinged independently from each other. The backing plates 30 and 32 are also shaped to conform to the sliding plate 11 in a parking position where the backing plates 30 and 32 are not hinged.

The fixing portions 31 are preferably made of a Velcro tape, and function to fix knee parts of the user in a straight position without being bent. The fixing portion may be placed above or under the knee of the lower limb or to surround the knee.

Adjustment parts 40 serve to pivot the backing part with respect to the support part at a predetermined angle. For this purpose, the adjustment parts 40 can use a cylinder 43 as shown in FIGS. 1a to 1c. The cylinder 43 may be a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder, which is adjustable in length, e.g., to be extended or contracted along the length in response to the opening/closing of a valve. One end 42 of the cylinder is hinged to the bottom of the backing plate of the backing part. The other end of the cylinder may be arranged to contact the base. The adjustment parts 40 adjust the angle of the backing part while supporting the same, and the part for adjusting the angle between the sliding plate 11 and the base 12 is referred to as the support angle adjustment part to be discriminated from the adjustment parts 40.

Operating the cylinder 43 of the adjustment part 40 can adjust the angle between the backing plate 30 and the sliding plate 11. As a result, the lower limb supported on the top surface of the backing plate can be stretched.

FIG. 2 is a view illustrating a second embodiment of the stretching apparatus of the invention.

In the stretching apparatus of this embodiment, the support part including the sliding plate 11 and the base and the support angle adjustment part are the same as those of the first embodiment. The backing plate 30 and the fixing portion 31 constituting the backing part are the same as those in the first embodiment. In this embodiment, an adjustment part 50 for rotating the backing part with respect to the support part employs an adjustment bar 53 in place of the cylinder of the first embodiment.

The adjustment bar 53 is arranged with one portion inserted into a lower part of the backing plate 30 and other portion directly or indirectly contacting the ground. Alternatively, a fixing member 55 is provided on the ground, and the adjustment bar 53 is inserted at the other portion inserted into the fixing member 55.

The adjustment bar 53 includes a plurality of members having different lengths, so that one of the members having a suitable length is selectively coupled to the backing plate 30 according to the angle between the backing plate 30 and the sliding plate 11. Here, the angle between the underside of the backing plate and the ground may be varied according to the angle between the sliding plate 11 and the backing plate 30. In this case, it is difficult to combine the adjustment bar with one coupling hole (i.e., coupling means formed under the backing plate) since the coupling hole (i.e., coupling means formed under the backing plate) is changed in angle according to the hinge motion of the backing plate 30. For this purpose, a plurality of coupling holes are formed according to the lengths of the adjustment members, preferably, under the backing plate.

FIG. 3 is a view illustrating a third embodiment of the stretching apparatus of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 3, the support part and the backing part are the same as in the first and second embodiments. However, a meshed structure is imparted to a part for adjusting the support angle between the sliding plate 11 and the base 12 of the support part and a part for adjusting the angle between the backing plate 30 of the backing part and the sliding plate 11. That is, a gear 12 is adopted to a joint of the sliding plate 11 and the base 12, and a driving mechanism connected to the gear 16 drives the gear 16 to adjust the angle of the sliding plate. In addition, a gear 15 is also adopted to a joint where the backing plate 30 is coupled with the sliding plate 11 to adjust the angle of the backing plate 30. Here, the part for adjusting comprises the gear driving mechanism, and the support angle adjustment part of the support part comprises the gear driving mechanism.

FIG. 4 is a view illustrating the sliding plate 11 of the stretching apparatus of the invention. The sliding plate 11 is provided movable so that it can slide up and down. The sliding plate 11 is inserted slidably into a frame 17, and can maximize stretching effect with the trunk and head of the user constantly directed downward.

In the meantime, as shown in FIGS. 1a to 1c, the sliding plate 11 can have a contact surface made of smooth cloth. The sliding plate 11 is required to have little friction so that the load of the user is constantly directed downward. That is, the sliding plate 11 is designed in such a fashion that the trunk and head can naturally slide down to maximize stretching effect when the lower limb is raised. For this purpose, a smooth cloth of little friction can be attached to the contact surface of the sliding plate. Alternatively, a smooth cloth may be attached to the frame 17, replacing the sliding plate.

The operation of the stretching apparatus of the invention will be described with reference to FIGS. 1a to 1c.

First, the sliding plate 11 is raised at a predetermined angle with respect to the base 12. The sliding plate 11 is supported by the support bar 13 of the support angle adjustment part. After the patient (user) leans the back against the sliding plate, one or both of the lower limbs are fixed to one or both of the backing plates 30 and 32. Then, the backing plate 30 is raised slowly by the adjustment part 40. In the first embodiment, the backing plate 30 can be raised slowly by applying hydraulic (or pneumatic) pressure into the cylinder 43. Here, the adjustment part for raising the backing plate is not limited to those illustrated in this embodiment but can adopt various means having the same or equivalent functions.

The stretched position can be maintained for a predetermined time with the backing plate 30 raised to perform stretching treatment. In addition, the patient can operate the cylinder and the like by using a control panel to adjust treatment by himself.

According to the invention as set forth above, in case of stretching treatment of a knee flexor, a lower limb of a patient can remain in an extended position without help of a therapist or assistant or with minimal help therefrom. With a simple manipulation, stretching treatment can be performed without help from another person such as a therapist.

Furthermore, the stretching of the knee flexor can be quantified by adjusting the angle of the backing part and the angle of the support part, which facilitates objectified treatment. Moreover, the stretching apparatus can be fabricated by a relatively simple fashion.

While the present invention has been described with reference to the particular illustrative embodiments and the accompanying drawings, it is not to be limited thereto but will be defined by the appended claims. It is to be appreciated that those skilled in the art can substitute, change or modify the embodiments into various forms without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.