Title:
Arch support with ribbed surface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An arch support orthotic device is insertable into an item of footwear which comprises an upper surface and a lower surface, the upper surface of which is contoured to conform generally to the shape of the arch of a wearer's foot and is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material responding flexibly to the weight of the wearer and the lower surface of which faces the shoe inner sole surface of the item of footwear when inserted into said item, said lower surface comprising a plurality of ribs and crenellations, wherein said ribs and crenellations function during use to control the deformability of the device so as to reduce loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer while preventing essentially complete deformation against the shoe inner sole surface of the wearer's footwear.



Inventors:
Conforti, Jeffrey (Franklin Lakes, NJ, US)
Kim, Mingoo (Franklin Lakes, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/544411
Publication Date:
02/28/2008
Filing Date:
10/04/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/173, 36/166
International Classes:
A43B7/22
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP (WA) (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An arch support orthotic device insertable into an item of footwear which comprises an upper surface and a lower surface, the upper surface of which is contoured to conform generally to the shape of the arch of a wearer's foot and is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material responding flexibly to the weight of the wearer and the lower surface of which faces the shoe inner sole surface of the item of footwear when inserted into said item, said lower surface comprising a plurality of ribs and crenellations, wherein said ribs and crenellations function during use to control the deformability of the device so as to reduce loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer while preventing essentially complete deformation against the shoe inner sole surface of the wearer's footwear.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said ribs are of sufficient length to prevent complete deformability of said lower surface to the shoe sole inner surface of the wearer's footwear.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the width of said crenellations are sufficient to prevent complete deformability of said lower surface to the sole of the wearer's footwear.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein said ribs are of sufficient length to prevent complete deformability of said lower surface to the shoe sole inner surface of the wearer's footwear and the width of said crenellations are sufficient to prevent complete deformability of said lower surface to the sole of the wearer's footwear.

5. The device of claim 4 wherein said upper surface and said lower surface are part of a unitary device.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein the device comprises a heel section and a toe section attached to the arch support section at the respective ends thereof.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/839,775 filed Aug. 24, 2006.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO A SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRM LISTING APPENDIX SUBMITTED ON COMPACT DISC (SEE 37 CFR 1.52(e)(5))

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to the field of arch support orthotics for feet, and more particularly to arch orthotics having a crenellated surface on the underside of the arch curve.

Typical prior art arch support orthotics are available in a variety of construction materials such as cushioning materials, leather, resilient plastic, rubber, foam or metal devices that are designed to fit into the footwear of a patient. They typically are shaped in the form of the human foot arch with the proximal (heel) and distal (toe) ends sloped down laterally from the arch support region to rest on the shoe inner sole, to provide support for the arch, as well as to promote comfort for the wearer.

Arch supports come in a variety of shapes, configuration, angles, sizes and materials of construction and they are well-known to the art. The mere phrase “arch support” conjures up in the mind of one skilled in the art an immediate functional device designed to engage the arch of a wearer to provide support and comfort thereto mainly to avoid the consequences of flat feet, or fallen arches, including pain in the foot and legs.

It is not surprising that the art has evolved through time and experience into a collection of a myriad of versions of varying complexity, design and structure. Merely as illustrative of the various types of arch supports that one may find in the art, there are the following: U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,115 B2, Title: Textured Arch Support Device and Method of Manufacturing; U.S. Pat. No. 6,966,131 B2, Title: Adjustable Arch Support Orthosis Including Variably Tensioned Arch Curve and Method of Utilizing Orthosis; U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,902 B1, Title: Adjustable Arch Support Orthosis Including Variably Tensioned Arch Curve and Method of Utilizing Orthosis; U.S. Pat. No. 6,854,199 B2, Title: Layered Arch Support, United States Patent Application Number 2002/0092203 A1, Title: Insole with Rebounding and Cushioning Areas and Adjustable Arch Support; U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,115, Title: Textured Arch Support Device and Method of Manufacture.

The disclosures of these patents and the patents cited therein are included herein by reference for all purposes, as though repeated at length herein.

Although each of the prior art orthotic devices comes with its idiosyncratic solution to some problem, a main deficiency of the prior art devices generally is that the arch support curved portion of the orthotic typically becomes irretrievably compressed by constant use, thereby losing its original curvature and the resiliency thereof. Lacking the original curvature, much of the arch support is lost leading to fallen arches with subsequent arch and leg pain.

Shoe orthotics prescribed by medical practitioners are custom made and may resolve the problem on an individual basis. Typically they are very rigid and, being custom made, are usually very expensive.

The art is in dire need of a pre-made arch support orthotic that will fit the average person in the general population and provide rigid, yet flexible, support of the longitudinal foot arch, so that the orthotic arch curvature is comfortably deformable in response to the weight of the user, but not totally collapsible to the shoe inner sole surface. Since the orthotic must also be light enough in weight to be comfortable to the wearer, merely increasing the thickness of the orthotic device in the arch region does not solve the problem because an unacceptable increase in weight, and decrease in flexibility, is obtained.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be better understood from the following description of some exemplary embodiments of the invention, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals or letters refer to like parts.

FIG. 1 is a top view in two dimensions of an arch support orthotic of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an elevation view of the configuration of FIG. 1 lying on a horizontal surface, illustrating the side view of the device and showing the plurality of ribs and crenellations.

FIG. 3 is an elevation view of FIG. 1, rotated 1800 in the plane of the paper about an imaginary point in the approximate center of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 shows the ribs and crenellations of the underside of FIG. 1 as seen by rotating the device of FIG. 1, 180° out of the plane of paper around an imaginary horizontal center line drawn through the device, (such as dotted line 5-5A).

FIG. 5 is a sectional view along 5-5 of the orthotic of FIG. 1 showing the ribs and crenellations at that section.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view along 6-6 of FIG. 2 showing the heel section of the orthotic.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view along 7-7 of FIG. 2 showing a rib along the underside of the orthotic in side view.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the ribs and crenellations of the underside of the orthotic by slightly rotating the device of FIG. 4 about an imaginary horizontal axis through the device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the invention provides an arch support orthotic wherein the supporting arch curve has the effect of a larger thickness arch curve in terms of flexible rigidity, but does not have an unacceptably uncomfortable increase in weight. Thus, the arch support device is insertable into an item of footwear and comprises an upper surface and a lower surface, the upper surface of which is contoured to conform generally to the shape of the arch of a wearer's foot and is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material responding flexibly to the weight of the wearer and the lower surface of which faces the shoe inner sole surface of the item of footwear when inserted into said item, said lower surface comprising a plurality of ribs and crenellations, wherein said ribs and crenellations function during use to control the deformability of the device so as to reduce loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer while preventing essentially complete deformation against the shoe inner sole surface of the wearer's footwear.

Another feature of the arch support orthotic of the invention is that it is removable from one shoe to another of like handedness.

Another feature is that the orthotic is controllably deformable under the weight of the user so that it does not completely flatten in use and thereby lose its arch supporting feature.

The arch support orthotic of the invention thus comprises an arch supporting, arcuate or curved span comprising upper and lower surfaces, the upper surface defining an arch-receiving surface for the wearer and conforming generally to the contours of a human foot arch, and the lower surface juxtaposed against, and facing the wearer's shoe inner sole surface, wherein said lower surface comprises a plurality of ribs and crenellations which permit flexing of the device upon use, but prevent complete flattening by reason of the dimensions of ribs and the crenellation spaces between them. The orthotic is preferably a unitary device of a single molded plastic structure.

Those skilled in the art will at once appreciate that the general slopes, angles and configurations, which are typical of the foot arch support, may be employed in many possible combinations. The present invention is not dependent upon any particular shape, angle or configuration as long as the critical aspect of the ribbed and crenellated elements is supplied to the arched curvature of the orthotic. Thus, any structure which is useable in the arch support art can be employed as long as the ribs and crenellations, as herein described, are provided.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-8 of the drawings illustrate an arch support device 10 according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention. The device 10 comprises an upper surface 16, (FIG. 1) a lower surface 12, (FIG. 2) which contains ribs 13 and crenellations 14, (shown for one rib and one crenellation, but generally extending the length of the desired arch support curve), device 10 being a rigid or semi-rigid but flexible material such as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, subortholon and the like, adequate to provide arch support for the expected wearer. Upper surface 16 is contoured to conform generally to the arch of a foot in the manner well-known in the art. Generally speaking, the surface 16 slopes gently from the medial high areas of the arch X down to the outside portion of the foot Y (See FIGS. 3 and 7). Arch support device 10 may be made in full foot length or a fraction thereof, as is well-known in the field for conventional arch supports.

In one specific example of the arch support device of FIGS. I to 8, device 10 was constructed of polypropylene, or other relatively hard or rigid plastic material. As indicated in FIG. 5 the heel end 11 tapers down in thickness along the length of the device starting approximately at the point where the bottom of the arch support curve meets the sole. The heel region 25 is preferably thinner at 19 than the thickness of the arch curve support 18 for the wearer's comfort.

As can be seen from FIG. 5, the thickness of the arch support curve section 18 of device 10, may be of the order of 5 to 10 mm, while the thickness 19 in the heel region may be 0.5 to 2 mm. These dimensions are not critical and are generally determined by the manufacturer in consideration of the comfort required by the wearer and manufacturing considerations. While having appropriate flexibility to avoid the sense of standing on a block of wood, the user's foot will be supported properly in the arch region and the ribbed surface 17 will prevent collapsing of the main arch support section directly against the shoe inner sole surface (not shown) and thus maintain the desired supporting function. Of course, the geometry of the lower surface 17 and surface 12 will direct the deformability of the device incrementally up the arch from the proximal end 20 and distal end 15, as the ribs in these sections are depressed. The length of the ribs 23 preferably decrease gradually as one proceeds up the arch support curve from the distal end 15 and then continue gradually decreasing as the proximal end 20 is approached. This is a preferred configuration. For construction purposes, a deformability of the arch support section at the high point of the arch support is suitably about 15% to about 50% of the distance from the highest section of the arch to the shoe inner sole surface.

Consideration should be given to the dimensions of the ribs and the crenellations in the context of the thickness 18 of the support region and desired weight capacities. For different categories of users, the ribs may be modified as to length and width to prevent full collapse in the arch region and thus maintain a full arch for support.

If substantial collapse occurs, proper rib length will prevent total collapse of the arch support surface. The distance 21 between the ribs in the support region may be closer in the case of heavier users as compared to those used for less heavy wearers. In this regard, there might be, for example, separate categories for wearers over 200 pounds, one for wearers between 150-200 pounds and one for wearers up to 150 pounds. There may also be categories as to shoe sizes. The determinations of these parameters, however, are well within the skill of the art.

In general, the closer together the ribs, the more supportive the device and the more rigid the arch support region. Therefore, a balance should be struck, depending on particular desires of the manufacturer, in consideration of the market demands, in selecting rib or crenellations depth 22, rib separation distance 21 and rib length and width 23 and 24 of ribs and depth 22 of the crenellations.

In consequence of the three dimensional nature and convoluted shape of the orthotic device and the shape of the foot in the arch area sloping from the medial high arch region X down to the outside position Y (See FIG. 7) and the narrowing shape toward the heel section, the rib length and crenellation depth decrease the closer to the Y section the device comes.

We have found that suitable flexibility is obtained when the open space between ribs is approximately equal to the actual rib width, although substantial variations around these dimensions can be tolerated.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the dimensions of the ribs and crenellations leading from the highest point in the arch curvature in a given plane (e.g. from X to Y in FIG. 7) of the foot to the lowest point may vary gradually as to the crenellation depth and width and rib length and width to provide a smooth, gentle reduction in size of the element as they get closer to the outer edge of the foot.

There will be many combinations of dimensions that may be employed in producing devices within the scope of the invention. In large part, these will be interdependent and will also depend on the rigidity of the composition selected by the manufacturer.

In some exemplary embodiments, we have used various rib lengths, rib widths, crenellation depths and widths and support surface thicknesses which are suitable to a polypropylene construct.

For example, rib lengths about 0.125 inches or less to about 0.5 inches or more have produced suitable results. Rib spacing equal to rib widths are also suitable and can range from about 0.125 inches to about 0.375 inches, although values outside this range may be employed if desired. Rib lengths and crenellation depths can taper down to zero as the outer section of the foot is approached.

The configuration of the heel section, though shown in the drawings in a hook shape is not critical. The carved-out section is chosen to reduce the weight of the orthotic while the extended hook gives stability to the device during wear.





 
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