Title:
Shoe for Wearing on a Foot of Restricted Mobility During Physiotherapeutic Training
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shoe for use by a person having paralysis or other restriction of mobility of one foot allows the foot to roll during physiotherapeutic training to gain walking ability. The upper body is used to at least partially support the person on an appropriate aid device during a step taken by the other foot having retained mobility. The shoe worn on the foot of restricted mobility has at least one omnidirectional roller member at the bottom thereof to allow the foot to roll forward to a position where a subsequent step can be taken. The relatively low level of friction involved in initializing the rolling motion of the foot reduces or eliminates reliance on another person to help move the foot forward during physical therapy.



Inventors:
Anderson, Benjamin T. (Winnipeg, CA)
Application Number:
11/620942
Publication Date:
02/14/2008
Filing Date:
01/08/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FOLLMAN, BRODIE J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADE & COMPANY INC. (WINNIPEG, MB, CA)
Claims:
1. A shoe for wearing on a foot of restricted mobility, said shoe comprising a shoe body and at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said shoe body for facilitating rolling motion of the shoe in any direction.

2. The shoe according to claim 1 wherein the at least one omndirectional roller member is disposed proximate a toe end of the shoe.

3. The shoe according to claim 2 having a frictional braking surface disposed proximate a heel end of the shoe for stopping the rolling motion thereof.

4. The shoe according to claim 1 wherein the at least one omnidirectional roller member comprises at least one ball caster.

5. The shoe according to claim 1 further comprising a slider member supported on the shoe body and disposed at a toe end of said shoe to facilitate sliding motion thereof on said toe end, thereby preventing tipping of a heel end of said shoe body about said toe end.

6. The shoe according to claim 5 wherein the slider member comprises a strip curved about a generally vertical axis to extend about the toe end of the shoe.

7. A pair of matching shoes comprising a first shoe and a second shoe, only said first shoe comprising a shoe body and at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said shoe body for facilitating rolling motion of said first shoe in any direction relative to said second shoe.

8. The pair of shoes according to claim 7 wherein said first and second shoes having substantially equal height profiles.

9. The pair of shoes according to claim 7 wherein the at least one omndirectional roller member is disposed proximate a toe end of the first shoe.

10. The pair of shoes according to claim 9 wherein the first shoe has a frictional braking surface disposed proximate a heel end thereof for stopping the rolling motion of said first shoe.

11. The pair of shoes according to claim 7 wherein the at least one omnidirectional roller member comprises at least one ball caster.

12. The pair of shoes according to claim 7 wherein the first shoe further comprises a slider member supported on the shoe body and disposed at the toe end of said first shoe to facilitate sliding motion thereof on said toe end, thereby preventing tipping of a heel end of said shoe body about said toe end.

13. The shoe according to claim 12 wherein the sliding member comprises a strip curved about a generally vertical axis to extend about the toe end of the shoe body.

14. A method of resurfacing an existing shoe, said method comprising: providing an existing shoe body having a bottom surface; providing a bottom layer for attaching to the bottom surface of the existing shoe body; and providing at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said bottom layer.

14. The method according to claim 13 wherein the at least one omndirectional roller member is disposed proximate a toe end of the bottom layer.

15. The method according to claim 14 wherein a heel end of the bottom layer extends below the toe end thereof to define a frictional braking surface.

16. The method according to claim 13 wherein the at least one omnidirectional roller member comprises at least one ball caster.

17. The method according to claim 13 further comprising providing a slider member supported on the shoe body and disposed at a toe end thereof.

18. The method according to claim 17 wherein the slider member comprises a strip curved about a generally vertical axis to extend about the toe end of the shoe body.

Description:

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C.119(e) of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/757,017, filed Jan. 9, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a shoe, and more particularly to a shoe for use by a person having paralysis or other restriction of mobility of one foot while undergoing physiotherapeutic training to gain walking ability.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Substantial loss of mobility of one of two feet, for example due to paralysis of a leg resulting from a physical trauma, does not necessarily result in a person losing the ability to walk. Through physical training, it is often possible for the person to develop the ability to walk with the assistance of an appropriate walking aid, such as a walker. In the example of paralysis of a single leg, walking is achieved by relying on the walking aid for support of the person's body during a stepping action of the functional leg. The paralyzed leg is then moved forward in a dragging manner exerted through motion of the torso while the functional leg supports the body.

Extensive physical training is often necessary to achieve this recovery of mobility, as the person must train his/her body to become accustomed to the unfamiliar motions before being able to walk with the confidence and stability necessary to ensure his/her safety. Such training may involve the use of a walking aid for support of the person by the upper body thereof and a low friction surface provided beneath the foot of limited mobility. The low friction surface allows a sliding motion of the foot over the ground to initially ease the training process.

A half length curling slider disposed on the bottom of a shoe may provide such a low friction surface extending rearward from the toes past the ball of the foot, but ending before a heel end of the shoe. This allows the foot to slide forward on the half slider from a position rearward of the other until the angle of the paralyzed leg with the torso is such that the heel of the shoe frictionally engages the ground to prevent further sliding. While friction experienced between the foot and the ground during this sliding motion is significantly less than that of dragging the foot without a slider, it is still usually of enough magnitude to prevent unaided sliding of the person's foot. As a result, motion of the foot is achieved by a trainer who urges the foot forward on the slider.

As a result, there is a desire for a device that can be used by a person having restricted mobility in one of two feet to facilitate movement of the one foot without aid from another person.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a shoe for wearing on a foot of restricted mobility, said shoe comprising a shoe body and at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said shoe body for facilitating rolling motion of the shoe in any direction. The at least one omnidirectional roller member provides the same degree of directional freedom of motion as a curling slider with less frictional resistance between the shoe and ground surface. This reduces or eliminates the need for aid from another person in initializing movement of the foot of limited mobility received in the shoe during physical therapy. This reduced reliance speeds up the training or recovery process, allowing a wearer of the shoe to more quickly develop the strength and confidence necessary to walk without personal aid.

Preferably the at least one omndirectional roller member is disposed proximate a toe end of the shoe.

Preferably there is provided a frictional braking surface disposed proximate a heel end of the shoe for stopping the rolling motion thereof.

Preferably the at least one omnidirectional roller member comprises at least one ball caster.

Preferably there is provided a slider member supported on the shoe body and disposed at a toe end of said shoe to facilitate sliding motion thereof on said toe end, thereby preventing tipping of a heel end of said shoe body about said toe end.

Preferably the slider member comprises a strip curved about a generally vertical axis to extend about the toe end of the shoe.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a pair of matching shoes comprising a first shoe and a second shoe, said first shoe comprising a shoe body and at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said shoe body for facilitating rolling motion of said first shoe in any direction relative to said second shoe.

According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a pair of shoes comprising a first shoe and a second shoe, said first shoe comprising a shoe body and at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said shoe body for facilitating rolling motion of said first shoe in any direction relative to said second shoe, said first and second shoes having substantially equal height profiles.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention there is provided a method of resurfacing an existing shoe, said method comprising:

providing an existing shoe body having a bottom surface;

providing a bottom layer for attaching to the bottom surface of the existing shoe body; and

providing at least one omnidirectional roller member supported on and extending beneath said bottom layer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings, which illustrate an exemplary embodiment of the present invention:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a shoe for wearing on a foot of restricted mobility during physiotherapeutic training.

FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the shoe of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of a pair of shoes for use by a person having restricted mobility of one foot during physiotherapeutic training.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As in a conventional shoe, the shoe 8 of the present invention features a shoe body 10 supported atop a bottom layer 16, as shown in FIG. 1. The shoe 8 also features omnidirectional roller members 20 mounted to the bottom layer 16 so as to extend downward from the bottom 18 of the shoe at a toe end 12 thereof. Engagement of the omnidirectional roller members 20 with the ground facilitates rolling motion of the shoe 8 and a foot received therein in any direction. The bottom layer 16 defines a frictional braking surface 22 disposed near the heel end 14 of the shoe 8. The shoe 8 is worn on a foot of limited mobility to ease movement thereof.

Positioning of the roller members 20 and braking surface 22 at the toe and heel ends 12,14 of the shoe respectively corresponds to changes in the weight distribution of a wearer on the shoe during walking. A step forward with a leading foot shifts weight distribution on a trailing foot toward a toe end thereof. It should therefore be appreciated that a shoe 8 of the present invention worn on this trailing foot would tend to roll forward on the roller members 20 when weight is shifted as a result of a forward step by the leading foot. As the trailing foot is rolled forward, weight is shifted back toward a heel end opposite the toe end, frictionally engaging the braking surface 22 of the shoe 8 with the ground. A resulting friction force slows and eventually stops the rolling motion of the shoe 8 and foot received therein.

From the above, the usefulness of the shoe 8 in physiotherapy should be readily apparent to those of skill in the art. For example, a patient having substantially lost movement in one leg may be able to regain the ability to walk through intense training. Wearing the shoe 8 on this leg, the upper body is used to support the patient's weight, for example by means of parallel bars on opposite sides of the patient. Using the parallel bars for support, a step forward is taken with the patient's mobile leg, making the foot of the other leg the trailing foot. As described above, this trailing foot is then rolled forward and stopped such that a subsequent step can be taken with the mobile leg. Through repetition of such training, the patient may build the strength and confidence to walk with the aid of a walker or similar portable support device while wearing conventional shoes. The omnidirectional roller members reduce or eliminate the need for the foot to be moved by an assistant during initial training while providing the necessary degree of directional freedom. It should be appreciated that the use of a wheel (i.e. a roller member having a single fixed rotational axis) would not be suitable, as movement of the foot would be restricted to generally straight line motion which may not correspond to the appropriate path of motion when walking.

As shown in FIG. 2, the detailed embodiment features three omnidirectional roller members 20, each being a ball caster having a main ball 24 and a housing 26. The main ball 24 of such a caster is made of a relatively hard, low friction material, such as steel. The roller members 20 are arranged in a triangular layout with two members disposed rearward (i.e. toward the heel end 14) of a member nearest the toe end 12. The rearward roller members are disposed on opposite sides of a longitudinal axis of the shoe 8 while the forward member is located generally centrally near the toe end 12. While this arrangement provides stability by resisting tipping of the shoe with relatively few components when engaging a flat surface, it should be appreciated that the number of roller members 20 and their relative positioning may be modified.

The casters are recessed into the bottom layer 16 of the shoe 8 such that the main ball 24 protrudes downward from the bottom surface 18 to engage the ground. Recessing the housing 26 into the bottom layer maintains an appearance substantially similar to that of a conventional shoe, as only a small portion of each roller member 20 is visible from the side of the shoe 8. In the detailed embodiment, the bottom layer 16 is taller at a heel portion 28 than along the rest of its length in order to compensate for the increase in height of the shoe 8 near the toe end 12 caused by the protrusion of the roller members 20 from the bottom surface 18.

The shoe 8 includes a slider member 30 disposed at the toe end 12 of the shoe. It should be appreciated from FIG. 1 that should the heel end 14 become significantly inclined upward from the toe end 12, the roller members 20 and toe end 12 may lift off and engage the ground respectively. During rolling motion of the shoe 8, momentum of the wearer and the frictional engagement of the toe end and ground may cause the shoe 8 to tip heel over toe, which could result in a loss of balance and cause a potentially dangerous fall. The slider member 30 reduces the likelihood of such an occurrence. The slider member 30 is a strip of material having a lower coefficient of friction than the shoe body 10 and bottom layer 16 to encourage sliding, rather than tipping, of the shoe should the toe end 12 contact the ground. As shown in the figures, the strip is curved about a generally vertical axis so as to extend about the toe end 12 of the shoe 8. The strip may be made of any of a number of known, relatively low friction materials, including but not limited to metal and Teflon.

FIG. 3 shows a pair of matching shoes for use as described above. The first shoe 8 is as described above for wearing on a foot of restricted mobility while the second shoe 40 is for wearing on the foot of retained mobility. A bottom layer 42 of the second shoe 40 features a heel portion 44 equal in height to the heel portion 28 of the first shoe 8. Similarly, a toe portion 46 of the second shoe 40 is equal in height to the bottom layer 16 of the first shoe 8 near the toe end 12 and the portions of the roller members 20 protruding downward therefrom. In other words, the two shoes have generally equal height profiles when sitting side by side on a flat horizontal surface as their matching shoe bodies are supported at equal heights above the surface. As shown in the figure, a bottom surface 48 of the second shoe 40 may be recessed between the heel and toe portions of the bottom layer 42 in order to decrease its thickness and improve the flexibility of the shoe about a transverse axis.

It should be appreciated that the shoe of the present invention may be constructed in any of a number of shoe styles known to those of skill in the art. The shoe may include laces for tightening around a user's foot, but hook and loop type fasteners 30, as shown in the figures and well known to those of skill in the art, may be easier for the user to operate, especially if the user also has limited mobility in one or both hands. The shoe may be constructed alone for use with a wearer's own conventional shoe on the mobile foot, as the visual appearance of nonmatching shoes may not be considered overly important during physical therapy. Alternatively, the shoe of the present invention may be constructed as part of a matching pair, as shown in FIG. 3. There are a number of ways the shoe of the present invention can be produced, as indicated by the following examples. The omnidirectional roller members 20 can be recessed into the sole of an existing shoe provided it is of sufficient thickness, a new bottom layer 16 having roller members 20 may be attached to an existing shoe body 12 by means of resoling/resurfacing or the shoe may be manufactured like a conventional shoe with the added steps of forming recesses in the sole and mounting the roller members therein. It should also be appreciated that the bottom layer, or sole, of the shoe may have profiles other than that shown in the figures. For example, a braking surface 22 is defined by the bottom layer 16 near the heel end 14 regardless of whether or not there is a stepped increase in thickness as shown in the figures.

Since various modifications can be made in my invention as herein above described, and many apparently widely different embodiments of same made within the spirit and scope of the claims without department from such spirit and scope, it is intended that all matter contained in the accompanying specification shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not in a limiting sense.