Title:
Glove with visco-elastic foam
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A glove having a first and a second layer of material wherein the first and second layers of material define opposing sides of the glove. The glove defines a palm portion, a dorsal portion, a thumb portion and four finger portions. A visco-elastic foam layer is coupled with the glove and extends over a substantial majority of the palm portion of the glove and at least a portion of the thumb portion and each of the finger portions. The visco-elastic foam layer cushions impacts and assists the wearer in maintaining a grip on an object such as a golf club or a baseball bat. The glove is well suited for use as a golf glove and is particularly beneficial for individuals having arthritic hands.



Inventors:
Reber, David C. (Franklin, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/518764
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
09/11/2006
Assignee:
REBER'S GRIP, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/161.1, 2/167
International Classes:
A41D19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MORAN, KATHERINE M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
George Pappas (Fort Wayne, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An item of apparel for wearing on a human hand, said apparel item comprising: a glove having a first and a second layer of material, said first and second layers of material defining opposing sides of said glove, said glove defining a palm portion, a dorsal portion, a thumb portion and four finger portions; and a visco-elastic foam layer coupled with said glove and extending over a substantial majority of said palm portion of said glove and at least a portion of said thumb portion and each of said finger portions.

2. The apparel item of claim 1 wherein said visco-elastic foam layer is a single contiguous layer of foam.

3. The apparel item of claim 1 wherein said visco-elastic layer of foam is a polyurethane visco-elastic foam layer.

4. The apparel item of claim 1 wherein said visco-elastic layer of foam is an open-cell polyurethane visco-elastic foam layer.

5. The apparel item of claim 1 wherein said visco-elastic layer of foam has a density of at least about 4.5 pounds per cubic foot.

6. The apparel item of claim 1 wherein said visco-elastic layer of foam has a thickness of between approximately ⅛ inch and ⅜ inch.

7. The apparel item of claim 1 further comprising a third layer of material, said third and second layers of material defining a pocket therebetween wherein said pocket extends along said palm portion and at least a portion of said thumb portion and each of said four finger portions; and wherein said visco-elastic foam layer is disposed within said pocket.

8. The apparel item of claim 7 wherein said pocket defines an outer perimeter and wherein said first, second and third layers of material are joined together at a common seam for at least a portion of said outer perimeter of said pocket.

9. The apparel item of claim 8 wherein said first, second and third layers of material are layers of leather material.

10. The apparel item of claim 7 wherein said visco-elastic foam layer is a single contiguous layer of foam having a substantially constant thickness when unstressed.

11. The apparel item of claim 10 wherein said foam layer is non-adhesively and non-attachedly retained within said pocket.

12. The apparel item of claim 1 wherein said opposing sides of said glove define a palm side and a dorsal side and wherein said visco-elastic foam layer is coupled with said palm side of said glove.

13. The apparel item of claim 12 wherein said visco-elastic foam layer extends over at least approximately 70% of said palm portion of said glove and at least approximately 70% of said palm side of said thumb portion and each of said four finger portions.

14. An item of apparel for wearing on a human hand, said apparel item comprising: a glove having a first and a second layer of material, said first and second layers of material defining opposing sides of said glove, said glove defining a palm portion, a dorsal portion, a thumb portion and four finger portions; and a third layer of material, said second and third layers of materials defining a contiguous pocket therebetween, said pocket extending over a substantial majority of said palm portion of said glove and at least a portion of said thumb portion and each of said finger portions; and a visco-elastic foam layer disposed within said pocket, said foam layer having a contiguous configuration with a central portion extending over a substantial majority of said palm portion of said glove and five projections extending respectively along at least a part of said thumb portion and said four finger portions of said glove.

15. The apparel item of claim 14 wherein said visco-elastic foam layer is a polyurethane visco-elastic foam layer having a substantially constant thickness when unstressed.

16. The apparel item of claim 14 wherein said thumb portion and each of said four finger portions of said glove has a dorsal side and a palm side, said pocket being disposed on said palm side of said thumb portion and each of said four finger portions.

17. The apparel item of claim 14 wherein said foam layer is non-adhesively and non-attachedly retained within said pocket.

18. The apparel item of claim 14 wherein said five projections of said foam layer respectively extend for a substantial majority of an outwardly extending length of each of said thumb portion and said four finger portions.

19. The apparel item of claim 18 wherein said thumb portion and each of said four finger portions of said glove have a dorsal side and a palm side, said pocket being disposed on said palm side of said thumb portion and each of said four finger portions and wherein said five projections of said foam layer have an area that extends over a substantial majority of said palm side of said thumb portion and said four finger portions.

20. The apparel item of claim 19 wherein said central portion of said foam layer has an area that is at least approximately 70% of an area of said palm portion of said first layer and wherein said five projections of said foam layer have an area that is at least approximately 70% of said palm side of said thumb portion and said four finger portions.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to gloves and, more particularly, to athletic gloves used when gripping an object such as a golf club or baseball bat.

2. Description of the Related Art

Athletic gloves such as batting gloves and golf gloves are well known. Such gloves are typically manufactured using a relatively thin leather material or synthetic material having similar properties. Gloves formed out of such a thin layer of material allow the wearer of the glove to grasp a golf club, baseball bat or similar object with a firm grip, maintain a good “feel” for the golf club or other object, and prevent the formation of blisters on the gripping hand.

While such conventional gloves are highly useful, they do not fully address the needs of individuals having arthritic hands. A person having arthritic hands may suffer significant pain and fatigue in the course of playing a round of golf due to repeated gripping and impacts associated with gripping a golf club and hitting a golf ball with the club.

A glove that at least partially alleviates such pain and/or fatigue would be desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a glove that includes a visco-elastic foam layer. Visco-elastic foam is commonly referred to as “memory foam.” The use of such memory foam in the glove both cushions impacts imparted through the glove and assists in the gripping of an object such as a golf club.

The invention comprises, in one form thereof, an item of apparel for wearing on a human hand. The apparel item includes a glove having a first and a second layer of material wherein the first and second layers of material define opposing sides of the glove. The glove defines a palm portion, a dorsal portion, a thumb portion and four finger portions. A visco-elastic foam layer is coupled with the glove and extends over a substantial majority of the palm portion of the glove and at least a portion of the thumb portion and each of the four finger portions.

The invention comprises, in another form thereof, an item of apparel for wearing on a human hand. The apparel item includes a glove having a first and a second layer of material wherein the first and second layers of material define opposing sides of the glove and the glove defines a palm portion, a dorsal portion, a thumb portion and four finger portions. A third layer of material is also provided. The second and third layers of materials define a contiguous pocket therebetween. This pocket extends over a substantial majority of the palm portion of the glove and at least a portion of the thumb portion and each of the four finger portions. A visco-elastic foam layer is disposed within the pocket and has a substantially constant thickness when unstressed. The foam layer has a contiguous configuration with a central portion extending over a substantial majority of the palm portion of the glove and five projections extending respectively along at least a part of the thumb portion and the four finger portions of the glove.

In some embodiments, the visco-elastic foam layer is a closed cell polyurethane foam layer having a density of at least about 4.5 pounds per cubic foot. When used with a glove defining a pocket, the foam layer may be non-adhesively and non-attachedly retained within the pocket.

An advantage of the present invention is that when a wearer of the glove grips an object such as a golf club, the visco-elastic foam layer cushions the impacts imparted from the club to the hand wearing the glove. Additionally, the visco-elastic layer, which tends to retain the shape in which it is placed and only slowly returns to its original configuration, assists the wearer in maintaining a grip on the club with less gripping strength.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above mentioned and other features of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of an embodiment of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top view of a glove.

FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the glove.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a visco-elastic foam layer.

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a side view of a visco-elastic foam layer.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a visco-elastic foam layer in a gripping position.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. Although the exemplification set out herein illustrates an embodiment of the invention, in one form, the embodiment disclosed below is not intended to be exhaustive or to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention to the precise form disclosed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

An item of apparel 20, in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Apparel item 20 is formed by a glove 22 having a layer of visco-elastic foam 24 (FIG. 3) coupled thereto as described in greater detail below.

Glove 22 includes first and second layers of material 26, 28 that define opposing sides of glove 22. More particularly, first layer 26 defines the dorsal side 30 of glove 22, while second layer 28 defines the palm side 32 of glove 22. As can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, glove 22 is adapted to be worn on a human hand and includes a dorsal portion 34, a palm portion 36, a thumb portion 38 and four finger portions 40. Dorsal side 30 of glove 22 corresponds to that side of glove 22 visible in FIG. 1 while palm side 32 of glove 22 corresponds to that side of glove 22 visible in FIG. 2 with minor exceptions on thumb portion 38.

As best seen in FIG. 4, a third layer of material 42 is used to define a pocket 44 between second and third layers 26, 28 in which foam layer 24 is retained. Pocket 44 is substantially co-extensive with palm side 32 of glove 22 overlapping palm portion 36 of glove 22 and the palm side portions of thumb 38 and each of fingers 40.

In the illustrated embodiment, first, second and third layers 26, 28, 42 are formed of a thin layer of leather material. Alternative materials, however, may also be used to form layers 26, 28, 42. For example, third layer 42 could alternatively be a stretchable, breathable synthetic material. As best understood with reference to FIG. 4, pocket 44 defines an outer perimeter 46 and first, second and third layers 26, 28, 42 are joined together at a common seam 48 to thereby provide a design that allows for the efficient manufacture of apparel item 20.

It is further noted that while the illustrated embodiment 20 uses separate pieces of material to form layers 26, 28, 42, which are joined together generally along the edge defining the demarcation between the dorsal 30 and palm 32 sides of glove 22, alternative configurations may also be used with the present invention. For example, a single piece of material folded upon itself could be used to form both first and second layers 26, 28, or, the individual pieces used to form layers 26, 28 may have shapes which do not correspond to the outline of the first and second layers 26, 28 which correspond to the dorsal 30 and palm 32 sides of glove 22 and a greater number of such individual pieces may be used and such pieces may be formed out of different materials for different portions of the glove.

Foam layer 24 is formed out of a visco-elastic foam. Visco-elastic foams are commonly referred to as “memory foams” and “energy foams”. Visco-elastic foams are typically denser than conventional foams, distribute pressures across a relatively broad surface area, and, when deformed, are relatively slow to return to their original configuration. Visco-elastic foams are often polyurethane foams. The illustrated embodiment utilizes an open-cell visco-elastic polyurethane foam having a density of at least about 4.5 pounds per cubic foot and a substantially constant thickness when unstressed. The initial load depression (ILD) of the illustrated foam is 15 pounds (lbs). The thickness of the foam layer is, advantageously, between about ⅛ inch to about ½ inch, and most preferably about ¼-⅜ inch. The illustrated embodiment utilizes a foam layer having a thickness of about ¼ inch. Alternative embodiments of the present invention, however, may use a visco-elastic foam having different characteristics. For example, less dense visco-elastic foams and foams having an alternative thickness may also be employed.

Foam layer 24 is retained in pocket 44 simply by trapping foam 24 between second and third layers 28, 42 and without the use of adhesives and without directly attaching foam 24 to either of layers 28, 42. If desired, foam layer 24 could be adhesively secured or attachedly secured to palm side 32 of glove 22 in an alternative embodiment of the invention.

As best understood with reference to FIG. 3, foam layer 24 has a contiguous configuration defining a central portion 50 and five projections 52. Central portion 50 extends into pocket 44 over a substantial majority of palm portion 36 of glove 22 while projections 52 extend into pocket 44 over thumb portion 38 and each of the four finger portions 40. Foam layer 24 preferably extends over a substantial majority of the palm side of the thumb 38 and finger 40 portions of glove 22 with projections 52 extending for a substantial majority of the outwardly extending length 54 of each of the thumb 38 and finger 40 portions of glove 22.

By providing a foam layer 24 that covers a substantial majority of the palm side surface of glove 22, both in palm portion 32 and along the thumb and finger portions 38, 40, foam layer 24 provides a relatively uniform spacing member that does not predispose the wearer of glove 22 to grip a golf club or baseball bat in any one particular orientation. For example, central portion 50 of foam layer 24 may cover at least approximately 70% of the area of palm portion 36 with projections 52 covering at least approximately 70% of the palm side of the thumb 38 and each of the four finger 40 portions of glove 22 to provide a foam layer 24 which covers a substantial majority of the palm side surface of glove 22.

FIG. 5 illustrates foam layer 24 in a side view and with a slightly curved configuration. This configuration generally corresponds to the curvature of a human hand when it is at rest, hanging loosely at the side of a standing person. The illustrated embodiment employs a foam layer 24 that is planar when in an unstressed condition, however, alternative embodiments could employ a foam layer 24 that has a slight curvature that is similar to that depicted in FIG. 5.

Turning now to FIG. 6, the manner in which foam layer 24 functions will be discussed. FIG. 6 is an end view of foam layer 24 (the remainder of glove 20 is not shown in FIG. 6 for purposes of clarity) when the wearer of glove 20 has grasped a golf club handle. In such a situation, foam layer 24 will be disposed between the wearer's hand and the golf club handle to thereby cushion any forces imparted from the club handle to the wearer's hand such as those created by hitting a golf ball with the head of the club. Visco-elastic foams such as foam layer 24 tend to distribute forces over a relatively large surface area, thus, foam layer 24 not only dampens the forces imparted from the golf club to the wearer's hand, but will also tend to distribute these forces over a relatively large surface area of the wearer's hand, thereby diminishing the peak pressure forces that act upon the wearer's hand.

Additionally, it can be seen from FIG. 6, that foam layer 24 has been deformed from its original configuration, depicted in FIG. 3. Because foam layer 24 is a visco-elastic foam that returns to its original shape at a relatively slow rate, if the wearer of glove 20 relaxes their grip, foam layer 24 will remain in contact about the club handle. The visco-elastic foam distributes the remaining pressure uniformly over the contact area maintaining control of the club handle while reducing the tension in tendons and muscles. Furthermore, by introducing a substantially uniform spacing element between the wearer's hand and the handle of the golf club, the effective diameter of the club is increased. In other words, the wearer of glove 20 will not have to clench his hand into as small a grip as he would otherwise. The introduction of a spacing element is thought to be helpful in reducing hand fatigue.

In the illustrated embodiment, foam layer 24 is a single contiguous layer, however, it would also be possible to form foam layer 24 out of separate pieces of foam or laminated layers of material including layers of visco-elastic foam in alternative embodiments.

Glove 22 may also include elastic members 56 secured along the wrist end of glove 22 and on dorsal side 30 of glove 22. A hook and loop enclosure feature 58 is optionally provided on dorsal side 30 of glove 22. The use of such elastic members and hook and loop enclosures on golf and batting gloves to ensure that the glove fits snuggly about the hand of the wearer is well-known to those having ordinary skill in the art.

While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles.





 
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