Title:
Garment for protecting a part of an extremity
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective garment for protecting a part of an extremity such as a shin or knee from injury due to impact, comprising a protective body of impact-absorbing material encased in a band of fabric for holding the protective body substantially adjacent to the part of the extremity thereby protecting it from injury.



Inventors:
Carrington, Janice (Valley Forge, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/818578
Publication Date:
01/03/2008
Filing Date:
06/14/2007
Assignee:
Plum Enterprises, Inc. (Valley Forge, PA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (Phili) (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective garment for protecting a part of an extremity from injury due to impact, comprising: a protective body of flexible impact-absorbing material for conforming to and protecting a part of an extremity from impact; and a band of non-protective material enclosing the protective body for holding the protective body next to and substantially covering the part of the extremity thereby protecting it from injury.

2. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the band is in the shape of a tube.

3. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the band is substantially in the shape of an elongated rectangle and comprises at least one fastener for securing the band to the extremity.

4. The protective garment of claim 3 wherein the fastener adjustably secures the band to the extremity and comprises at least one of hook, loop, buckle, button, magnet, snap and string.

5. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body comprises at least one of a closed cell polymer and an open cell polymer.

6. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body comprises more than one layer of impact-absorbing material.

7. The protective garment of claim 6 wherein the protective body comprises at least a first layer of protective material of a first density and a second layer of protective material attached to the first layer, the second layer having a density greater than the density of the first layer.

8. The protective garment of claim 7 wherein the first layer of the protective body has a density in the range of about 3 to about 5 pounds per cubic foot (about 50 to about 80 kg/m3) and the second layer has a density in the range of about 5 to about 12 pounds per cubic foot (about 80 to about 200 kg/m3), arranged so that the first layer is closer to the protected part of the extremity than the second layer when the garment is worn.

9. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body is between about ¼ inch (about 6 mm) and about 2 inches (about 50 mm) thick.

10. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body is sized to protect a long bone of an extremity and has a width in the range of about three to about six inches (about 75 to about 150 mm) and a length in the range of about five to about twelve inches (about 125 to about 300 mm).

11. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body is sized to protect a joint of an extremity and has a width in the range of about two to about six inches (about 50 to about 150 mm) and a length in the range of about three to about seven inches (about 75 to about 175 mm).

12. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body is arcuate and conforms substantially to the shape of the protected part of the extremity.

13. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body contains slits whereby it conforms substantially to the shape of the protected part of the extremity when worn.

14. The protective garment of claim 13, wherein the slits are nested curves.

15. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body has beveled sides.

16. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the protective body is sewn permanently into the band.

17. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the band comprises a pocket into which the protective body is removably inserted.

18. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the band is made of polyester/cotton/spandex blend fabric.

19. The protective garment of claim 1 wherein the band comprises an elastomeric or textile material.

20. A protective garment for protecting a part of an extremity from injury due to impact, comprising: a protective body of a flexible, impact absorbing closed cell polymer for conforming to and protecting a part of an extremity from impact, including: a first layer having a density in the range of about 3.0 to 5.0 pounds per cubic foot; (about 48 to about 80 kg/m3) and a second layer attached to the first layer having a density in the range of 5.0 to 12.0 pounds per cubic foot (about 80 to about 190 kg/m3), wherein the first layer is between ¼ inch and 1 inch (between 6 mm and 25 mm) thick, the second layer is between ⅛ inch and 1 inch (between 3 mm and 25 mm) thick, the first and second layers are arranged so the first layer is closer to the protected part of the extremity than the second layer when the garment is worn, the protective body has beveled sides, and the protective body is two to six inches (50 to 150 mm) wide and three to twelve inches (75 to 305 mm) long; and a band of non-protective polyester/cotton/spandex blend fabric enclosing the protective body for holding the protective body next to the part of the extremity and substantially covering the part of the extremity thereby protecting it from injury, including: at least one strip of loop-type material attached to the upper side of one end of the band and at least one strip of hook-type material attached to the lower side of the other end of the band, for wrapping the band around and adjustably securing the band to the extremity; wherein the band is substantially in the shape of an elongated rectangle and the protective body is sewn permanently into the band.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/813,791, filed Jun. 15, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Aging adults with an unsteady gait are at risk for falls and injuries to their extremities caused by bumping into furniture and fixtures. After head injuries and hip fractures, injuries to the extremities predominate among older Americans. Poor vision, medications, dementia, and physical ailments can lead to falls. Stumbling into fixtures or furniture, particularly when an individual is in a new environment, can lead to shin and knee trauma which can also result in a serious fall. Falls are a leading cause of death and disability among people over 65. Keeping aging adults active, independent, and mobile is a challenge. Increasing government-mandated Restraint-Free Initiatives for nursing homes and assistive living facilities create the need for protective clothing to keep patients and residents safe in the event of falls.

Prior art garments for protecting parts of extremities, such as shin guards and knee and elbow protectors, consist of pre-molded hard plastic, such as are used in sports. Such devices are uncomfortable for the aging adult, and their appearance is unconventional and unattractive for older adults. Furthermore, hard plastic does not absorb impact effectively. Discomfort, poor impact absorption, poor appearance, poor fit, and compliance difficulties render them undesirable for use by older adults. A better protective garment for protecting parts of extremities is needed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided an improved protective garment for protecting a part of an extremity due to impact with a hard object, such as. to protect against injury to a shin, knee, or elbow by bumping into furniture or falling onto a hard surface. The garment includes a body of protective material encased in a non-protective band that wraps around the extremity.

The protective body is made of a flexible, dense, impact absorbent material, such as a closed cell polymer and/or open cell foam. The impact absorbent material may comprise a cross-link polymer, poly vinyl chloride, vinyl nitrile rubber, or synthetic or other sponge material. The protective body may be rectangular, oval, or of another suitable shape. The protective body may have slots or slits, to allow the protective body to expand and to conform more easily to the shape of the underlying part of the extremity. Where the part of the extremity is a knee or other joint, the slits may assist the protective body to flex as the joint flexes. The slits may be arranged in concentric semicircles or other nested arcs. The protective body may have small holes for improved breathability. The protective body may be beveled along its outer edges and/or along any slots or slits.

The non-protective band is preferably made of or covered with a soft, flexible, comfortable material such as cotton textile fabric, or a polyester/cotton/spandex blend, or the like. A knitted, woven, or non-woven material may be used.

The protective body is preferably permanently sewn inside the band, or removably inserted into a casing or pocket which is part of the band, or the protective body can be attached to a surface of the band. The band is preferably fashioned in the form of a flexible elongated rectangle that wraps around a wearer's extremity so that the protective body substantially covers the part of the extremity being protected, and is preferably secured in place with one or more fasteners so that the band conforms to and moves with the user. The fasteners are preferably of a type or are placed so that the band is adjustable in size, so that its tightness when wrapped around the extremity can be adjusted, or so that it can be wrapped around extremities of different sizes. The band is preferably secured in place and adjusted using one or more fasteners such as hooks and loops, buckles, buttons, magnets, snaps, tied strings, or the like.

Alternatively, the band is fashioned in the form of a tube into which the extremity is inserted, the position of the band then being adjusted by pulling it into place on the extremity so that the protective body is positioned to cover the part of the extremity the wearer desires to protect. In this embodiment, the band preferably comprises an elastomeric or textile material such as a polyester/cotton/spandex blend or cloth/rubber combination, or includes a section of such an elastomeric or textile material.

The protective body is preferably sized to protect a particular part of an extremity, such as a shin, knee, forearm, or elbow. In one embodiment, the protective body is shaped to substantially conform to the protected part of the extremity. In another embodiment, the protective body contains slits whereby the protective body conforms to the protected part of the extremity when worn. The non-protective band is preferably sized to completely encase the protective body and secure it in place on the extremity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings various forms that are presently preferred, it being understood, however, that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and construction particulars shown.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a protective garment according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the protective garment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the protective garment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the protective garment of FIG. 1 taken along lines 4-4.

FIG. 5 is an illustration of the use of the protective garment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of a protective body for a protective garment according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the invention will be described in connection with one or more preferred embodiments, it will be understood that it is not intended to limit the invention to any particular embodiment. On the contrary, it is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention. as defined by the appended claims.

Certain terminology is used herein for convenience only and is not to be taken as a limitation on the invention. Particularly, words such as “upper,” “lower,” “left,” “right,” “horizontal,” “vertical,” “upward,” and “downward” merely describe the configuration shown in the figures.

Referring to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals identify like elements, FIGS. 1 to 4 depict one embodiment of a protective garment 10 according to the present invention. Protective garment 10 comprises a protective body 20 sewn into the garment. The protective body 20 comprises an impact-absorbing material, such as one or more layers of a dense closed cell polymer and/or open cell foam. A band of non-protective material 30 encases the protective body 20 and holds it in place when the garment is worn, so that the protective body can be positioned next to and substantially covering a part of an extremity, such as a shin or a knee, thereby protecting the part of the extremity from injury.

The protective body 20 may be about two to six inches (50 to 150 mm) wide and three to twelve inches (75 to 300 or 305 mm) long. To protect a long bone of an extremity, such as a shin, the protective body 20 may have a width in the range of about three to about six inches (about 75 to about 150 mm) and a length in the range of about five to about twelve inches (about 125 to about 300 mm). To protect a joint of an extremity, such as a knee, the protective body 20 may have a width in the range of about two to about six inches (about 50 to about 150 mm) and a length in the range of about three to about seven inches (about 75 to about 175 mm).

The protective body 10 has an outside surface 21 (see FIG. 4) facing away from the extremity when the garment is worn for receiving an impact, and an inside surface 23 facing the extremity and in protective contact with part of the extremity. The protective body may either have sides that are substantially orthogonal to the outside and inside surfaces, or sides 26 that are beveled. In a preferred embodiment, the sides 26 are beveled with the inside surface 23 having a length and width greater than the outside surface 21. Advantages of this embodiment can include enhancing conformity to the extremity when worn, ease of sewing the protective body inside the band or inserting it into a pocket in the band, and/or allowing the protective body to be more discreet when worn under clothing.

The band 30 preferably comprises an elastomeric or textile material such as cotton or polyester/cotton/spandex or elastane blend or cloth/rubber combination. The band 30 may be of a woven or non-woven material, or of a knitted material. Knitted materials are typically stretchier than woven materials, and a knitted material with interlaced elastic threads can readily be made with a desired elasticity. The protective body 20 is attached to the band 30, such as by being permanently sewn into band 30 as in FIG. 1, or band 30 may contain a pocket into which protective body 20 is inserted, or the protective body can be attached to a surface of the band. A strip of “hook-type” hook and loop material 40 is affixed to the upper side of the band at one end, and a strip of “loop-type” hook and loop material 50 is affixed to the lower side of the band at the other end. The garment 10 is worn by placing the protective body 20 on the part of the extremity to be protected, wrapping the band 30 around the extremity, pulling the band to the desired tension and securing the garment in place by pressing the strip of loop-type material 50 against the strip of hook-type material 40. One or both strips of hook and loop material are preferably sized to allow adjusting the tightness of the band, and so that the band can be wrapped around extremities having different circumferences. FIGS. 2 and 3 show a plan view and a side view, respectively, of the protective garment of FIG. 1.

Although a hook and loop fastener is illustrated, it is understood that other fasteners may be used, such as one or more of hooks, loops, buckles, buttons, magnets, snaps, tied strings, or the like, and are within the scope of the invention.

In another embodiment, the band may be in the shape of a tube (not shown). In this embodiment, no fastener is required. The band is preferably made of or comprises a elastomeric or textile material, such as a polyester/cotton/spandex blend, a cloth/rubber combination or the like. The garment is worn by inserting the extremity into the tube, then pulling the garment into place and adjusting its position so that the protective body substantially covers the part of the extremity to be protected.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the protective garment of FIG. 1 taken along lines 4-4. The protective body is shown encased between two layers of fabric 35 which form the band 30. The protective body comprises two layers 22 and 24. The first or inner layer 22 is of an impact-absorbing protective material of a first density, preferably in the range of about 3 to about 5 pounds per cubic foot (about 50 to about 80 kg/m3). Attached to the first layer, preferably with edges coextensive with edges of the first layer, is a second or outer layer 24 of impact-absorbing material of a second density, preferably in the range of about 5 to about 12 pounds per cubic foot (about 80 to about 200 kg/m3). The layers can be attached together by any conventional means, such as by adhesive. When worn, the first or inner layer 22 is disposed next to the protected body part, while the more dense second or outer layer 24 faces away from the protected body part. Thereby, the softer, more comfortable layer is disposed next to the body part, and the garment provides the protective benefit of the denser, more impact-absorbing layer. The two-layer structure described enables the force of an impact to be distributed over a larger part of the total area of the protective body 20.

The first layer may be between ¼ inch and 1 inch (between 6 mm and 25 mm) thick, and the second layer may be between ⅛ inch and 1 inch (between 3 mm and 25 mm) thick.

The impact-absorbent material of the second or outer layer 24 may be a cross-link polymer, polyvinyl chloride, vinyl nitrile rubber, or sponge.

Although two layers of protective material are shown, only one layer or more than two layers may be used. The density of one or more layers of protective material may be homogeneous, or one or more layers may have a density which varies through the layer. The layers may comprise open cell or closed cell polymers or other suitable materials, and may be more or less dense than the ranges hereinbefore indicated.

The band of non-protective material is illustrated as an elongated rectangle, but it is understood that other shapes are possible, such as a band with wider or narrower portions, and are within the scope of the invention. The protective body is illustrated as being placed toward one end of the band, but other placements are possible, such as more or less in the middle of the band, and such placements are also within the scope of the invention. The band is preferably made of or comprises a soft, comfortable elastomeric or textile material such as cotton fabric or a polyester/cotton/spandex blend.

The protective body is also illustrated as rectangular in shape, but other shapes are possible and are within the scope of the invention. For example, a round or elliptical protective body may be used, such as to protect an elbow or knee joint. In addition, the protective body may be molded into a shape that substantially conforms to the part of the extremity to be protected, such as an arcuate elongated shape to conform more nearly to a shin or forearm, or a cup-like shape to conform more nearly to a knee or elbow. In an embodiment, the protective body contains one or more slits (not shown) which allow the protective body to conform more closely and flexibly with the shape of the covered extremity part.

FIG. 5 shows the use of the protective garment 10 on a leg. Two differently sized protective garments 10 are shown being worn on the same leg of the wearer, one with the protective body 20 covering and protecting the shin of the wearer, and the other with protective body 20 protecting the knee of the wearer. A similar protective garment 10, optionally in a smaller size, may be used to protect the elbow of the wearer. In each case, band 30 secures the protective body 20 in the desired position. As shown in FIG. 5, the protective bodies 20 are received in pockets 52 with open tops 54 on the bands 30. The tops 54 of the pockets may instead be closed by flaps or other devices to retain the protective bodies 20 in the pockets 52. Alternatively, the protective bodies 20 may be permanently encased in the bands 30 as shown in FIGS. 1 to 4.

As may be seen in FIG. 5, the protective body 20 of the lower garment 10 is arcuate, to conform to the generally cylindrical shape of the user's shin. The protective body 20 in question may be preformed in an arcuate shape, or may be a body that in a relaxed state is flat, as shown in FIG. 5, but that is bent into an arcuate shape by the tension in the band 30 when fastened around the shin.

FIG. 6 shows an alternative form of the protective body 60. The protective body 60 has a rounded or oval shape, instead of the rectangular shape shown for the protective body 20 in FIG. 2. The oval shape is preferred for some purposes. For example, an oval protective body 60 may conform better to the knee of the user, whereas a rectangular protective body 20 may conform better to the shin of the user. The term “oval” should not be interpreted as requiring a hen's-egg shape, wider at one end than the other. Such a shape is of course possible, and may be desirable for specific purposes. However, a symmetrical oval is usually more convenient, because it is not then necessary to ensure that the protective body is one way round rather than the other, nor to distinguish between left-handed and right-handed garments. The protective body 60 has slits 62 and perforations 64 passing through the protective body. The protective body 60 has vertical sides 66.

The slits 62 are arcuate, and are nested, approximately in concentric semicircles in each half of the protective body 60. As may be seen from FIG. 6, the slits 60 are centered on the center of the protective body 60, and align with the rounded ends of the oval shape of the protective body. The slits 60 can increase the flexibility of the protective body 60, allowing it to conform to the shape of the part of the extremity on which the garment 10 is worn, and to flex as the extremity flexes. The slits 60 can also allow expansion of the protective body 60, The slits 60 are shown in FIG. 6 as slits with the sides touching, but may instead by slots with a small but appreciable width.

The perforations 64 are provided to increase the breathability of the material of the protective body 60, especially when one or both of the layers 22, 24 is of an impermeable material such as closed-cell foam. Where one of the layers 22, 24 is permeable and the other layer is impermeable, the perforations 64 may pass through only the impermeable layer.

The protective body 60 shown in FIG. 6 may have similar dimensions to the protective body 20 shown in FIGS. 1 to 4. Specifically, to protect a knee, the protective body 60 may have a length of about 8 inches (about 200 mm) and a width of about 4¼ inches (about 105 or 110 mm). The protective body 60 may be between about ¼ inch (about 6 mm) and about 2 inches (about 50 mm) thick.

Although the invention has been described and illustrated with respect to exemplary embodiments thereof, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that various other changes, omissions and additions may be made therein and thereto, without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

For example, various optional or preferred features that have been shown in one embodiment may be applied to the other embodiment, or may be omitted from the embodiment where shown. Examples of such features include the beveled edges 26, vertical sides 66, pockets 52 or permanent encasing, slits or slots 62, and perforations 64. The skilled reader will understand how different features and combinations of features may be selected to create a desired form of protective garment.