Title:
Leg Pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pillow formed of a resilient body and having an hourglass shape for placing between a person's legs to provide support while the person is reclining. The pillow can include a massaging unit disposed inside the body for producing vibrations. The pillow in one embodiment has first and second portions pivotally connected along a hinge such that the pillow is convertible between an open configuration and a closed configuration. The pillow can be positioned between the legs when in the closed configuration, or beneath the legs when in the open configuration.



Inventors:
Davis, Edmund Scott (Fort Lauderdale, FL, US)
Arcieri, Antonio (Fort Lauderdale, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/872322
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
10/15/2007
Assignee:
Banyan Licensing LC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C20/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
POLITO, NICHOLAS F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALSTON & BIRD LLP (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pillow for therapeutic use by humans, comprising: a body of resilient material, the body having a first leg-engaging face and an opposite second leg-engaging face for respectively engaging first and second legs of a person when the pillow is positioned between the person's legs, each of the first and second leg-engaging faces having a concave portion contoured to receive and cradle one of the person's legs, wherein the body is dimensioned and configured such that the body can remain between the person's legs as the person turns from one side to another while reclining on a sleep surface; and a massaging system including a massaging unit disposed inside the body, the massaging unit being operable to produce vibrations in the body for transmission to the person's legs.

2. The pillow of claim 1, wherein the massaging system includes a controller connected to the massaging unit and operable to control operation thereof.

3. The pillow of claim 1, wherein the body includes first and second portions connected to each other along a hinge that permits the first and second portions to pivot relative to each other for converting the pillow between a closed configuration for use between a person's legs and an open configuration for use beneath the person's legs.

4. The pillow of claim 3, wherein the first portion includes the first leg-engaging face and an opposite first back face, and the second portion includes the second leg-engaging face and an opposite second back face, the first and second back faces abutting each other in the closed configuration.

5. The pillow of claim 4, wherein the second portion pivots about the hinge about 180 degrees relative to the first portion when the pillow is converted from the closed configuration to the open configuration.

6. The pillow of claim 3, wherein the massaging unit comprises a first massaging unit disposed inside the first portion and a second massaging unit disposed inside the second portion, each of the massaging units being operable to produce vibrations in the respective portion of the body for transmission to the person's legs.

7. A pillow for therapeutic use by humans, comprising: a body of resilient material, the body including first and second portions connected to each other along a hinge that permits the first and second portions to pivot relative to each other for converting the pillow between a closed configuration an open configuration, the first portion having a first leg-engaging face and an opposite first back face and the second portion having a second leg-engaging face and an opposite second back face, each of the first and second leg-engaging faces having a concave portion contoured to receive and cradle one of the person's legs when the pillow is in the closed configuration and positioned between the person's legs or when the pillow is in the open configuration and positioned beneath the person's legs.

8. The pillow of claim 7, wherein each of the first and second back faces is substantially planar, the first and second back faces abutting each other in the closed configuration of the pillow.

9. The pillow of claim 8, wherein each of the first and second portions includes sidewalls that are generally orthogonal to the respective one of the first and second back faces.

10. The pillow of claim 7, wherein the second portion pivots about the hinge about 180 degrees relative to the first portion when the pillow is converted from the closed configuration to the open configuration.

11. The pillow of claim 7, wherein the hinge connects an end wall of the first portion to an end wall of the second portion.

12. The pillow of claim 11, wherein the end walls of the first and second portions are substantially planar and are substantially abutting in the open configuration of the pillow.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/829,478 filed on Oct. 13, 2006, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a pillow used for therapeutic purposes and, more particularly, to a pillow that engages the legs of a reclining person to provide support intended to maintain the individual's body in proper alignment.

Previous attempts have been made to design devices such as pillows for providing support and aligning various parts of a reclining person's body. Prior patents generally disclose pillows of a length sufficient to engage a substantial portion, or in some cases all, of the length of a person's body.

For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 2,056,767 issued on Oct. 15, 1935 to William H. Blath discloses a back pad attachable to the body of a user so that it will be held in position whether the patient is lying in bed or sitting. The back pad purports to permit freedom of movement for the spinal column in either position of the wearer.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,795,018 issued on Mar. 5, 1974 to Charley H. Broaded discloses an adjustable bed having a surface with supports of varying heights whereby the head, shoulders, and legs are propped. When body members are propped up, the spine of the user is the to be kept in linear alignment.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,173,048 issued on Nov. 6, 1979 to John A. Varaney discloses a pillow configuration having a central head-supporting portion forming the top of the pillow and two extension portions positioned substantially perpendicularly to the central portion and extending substantially vertically downwardly therefrom, thus resulting in a pillow construction that is the to provide sleeping comfort for the head and shoulders of the user.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,585,730 issued on Apr. 29, 1986 to Eva Rajan discloses a device for stabilizing the pelvis by supporting a person's lumbar region. Additional attachments support the hipbones.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,624,021 issued on Nov. 25, 1986 to Jean A. Hofstetter discloses a cushion-like support having a portion extending from the shoulder area to the pelvis to bolster a person's torso, purportedly allowing pressure points in the lower extremities to be relieved.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,754,510 issued on Jul. 5, 1988 to Harry A. King discloses a body pillow to cushion and enfold the entire length of the body while providing a comfortable cushioned separation of the arms and legs of the user.

None of these patents, either taken singly or in combination, disclose the unique construction of the instant invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an environmental view of a leg pillow according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the leg pillow illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of the leg pillow illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a rear elevation view of the leg pillow illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the leg pillow illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the leg pillow illustrated in FIG. 1, showing the cover being partially removed therefrom;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating yet another embodiment of the leg pillow in use in a first position;

FIG. 8 is a plan view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 7 in use in a second position;

FIG. 9 is a plan view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 7 in an open position;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 7 in a closed position and oriented on its side;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 7 being moved between the open and closed positions;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 7 in the closed position and oriented on its end; and

FIG. 14 is a perspective view illustrating the leg pillow of FIG. 7 in an articulating packaging system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present disclosure now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which some but not all embodiments of the invention are shown. Indeed, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 6, a cushion device or pillow 100 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention is illustrated. The pillow 100 comprises a resilient body that has an hourglass, dog bone, or dumbbell shape in cross-section, as best seen in FIGS. 5 and 6. The pillow 100 has a first leg-engaging face 102 and an opposite second leg-engaging face 104, each of which is non-planar. The first and second leg-engaging faces collectively define the hourglass, dog bone, or dumbbell shape. These faces extend in a length direction (denoted by double-headed arrow A in FIG. 2) between a first sidewall 106 and a second sidewall 108 of the pillow. The sidewalls 106, 108 are generally planar and parallel to each other, and are spaced apart along the length direction A. The first and second leg-engaging faces 102, 104 are generally mirror images of each other with respect to a medial plane P that bisects the pillow into two half thicknesses. The first and second leg-engaging faces 102, 104 are spaced apart in a thickness direction (denoted by double-headed arrow B in FIG. 5) of the pillow and thus define the thickness of the pillow. The pillow includes a first end face 110 and an opposite second end face 112 spaced apart along a width direction of the pillow (denoted by double-headed arrow C in FIG. 5), the end faces extending in the length direction A between the first and second sidewalls 106, 108, and extending in the thickness direction B between the first and second leg-engaging faces 102, 104. As shown in FIG. 5, the thickness of the pillow varies along the width direction of the pillow because of the non-planar contours of the first and second leg-engaging faces 102, 104.

More specifically, as best seen in FIGS. 5 and 6, the thickness of the pillow 100 has a minimum at an intermediate location of the pillow along the width direction C. At this intermediate location, the first and second leg-engaging faces 102, 104 are concave in an outward direction (i.e., first leg-engaging face 102 is concave in the upward direction and second leg-engaging face 104 is concave in the downward direction in FIG. 5), the faces having curvature along the width direction C. The leg-engaging faces 102, 104 may have some curvature along the length direction A, although the leg-engaging faces 102, 104 of the pillow 100 in the illustrated embodiment are substantially linear along the length direction. The thickness of the pillow increases with distance from the intermediate location along the width direction C toward each of the ends of the pillow, and reaches a maximum proximate each end of the pillow. This thickness distribution is due to the contours of the first and second leg-engaging faces 102, 104, each of which defines a hump or crest proximate each end of the pillow. Thus, proceeding along the width direction C from the first end face 110 to the second end face 112, the first leg-engaging face 102 has a convex crest 114, transitioning to a concave valley 116 at the intermediate location, then transitioning to another convex crest 118. The second leg-engaging face 104 similarly has a convex crest 120, transitioning to a concave valley 122, then transitioning to another convex crest 124.

The pillow 100 can be formed of a one-piece body 130 of resilient polymer foam, such as polyurethane foam. The foam body 130 can be covered by an outer cover 140 of fabric that enshrouds and tightly conforms to the configuration of the resilient foam body. The cover can be removable from the foam body so that the cover can be laundered or dry-cleaned. The cover can be formed of any suitable fabric, such as a woven cotton or cotton/synthetic blend, optionally having an antimicrobial compound incorporated therein. The pillow cover 140 is preferably made of preshrunk cotton fabric that will not shrink when dried properly. Also, the cover can be made of a waterproof or water-resistant material.

The pillow 100 includes a massaging system 150. According to one embodiment, the massaging system 150 includes one or more massaging units 152 and a controller 154. The massaging unit(s) 152 can operate using vibrating or sliding motion. For example, in one embodiment, the massaging unit(s) 152 can include a motor with a movable eccentric weight inside a housing to generate the vibration. In other embodiments, repetitious sliding motion can be used to generate a massaging motion. The controller 154 will provide for turning the massage element(s) 152 on and off and, in one embodiment, controlling the speed and intensity of the vibration or sliding motion to modify the massaging effect. In addition to a massaging system, the pillow 100 may also include a sound system for producing music (such as a receiver, transmitter, and speaker) and/or temperature element for adjusting the temperature of the pillow (such as a cooling element or heater) that can be controlled using controller 154. The controller 154 can communicate with the massaging unit(s) 152 (and/or the sound system and/or temperature elements) via a sheathed electrical wire 156 or via wireless communication. In another embodiment, the controller can constitute an on/off switch on the side of the pillow 100.

The pillow 100 is designed to be placed between the legs of a user U while the person is lying down or sleeping on one side, and is designed to relieve pressure on back and hip muscles. The pillow fits comfortably between the legs of the user, keeping the legs in line with the spine, thus reducing pressure on the spine and the nerves as the muscles relax. The pillow preferably is light in weight and thus easy to adjust for comfort with a minimum of movement. With the contoured design, the pillow will usually move with the user when the user turns over, allowing for uninterrupted sleep. The valleys 116, 122 on the opposite leg-engaging faces 102, 104 of the pillow are configured to receive and cradle the user's legs as best seen in FIG. 1. The smoothly convex crests 114, 118, 120, 124 are configured so as to not catch on the mattress or become entangled in bedclothes, sheets, or the like as the user turns over during sleep.

The pillow 100 can be manufactured in various sizes. For proper fit for most individuals, the maximum dimensions of the pillow in the A, B, and C directions can be about 8 inches, 6 inches, and 10 inches, respectively. For smaller individuals and children, these dimensions can be about 6.5 inches, 5 inches, and 9 inches, respectively. Special sizes can be manufactured for individuals who have undergone hip surgery or hip replacements.

By providing proper separation of the legs, the pillow 100 functions as a cushion device having therapeutic use. More particularly, the pillow is sandwiched between the legs of a person in a reclining position so that the pillow remains between the legs as the person turns from side to side. Opposed portions of the legs of the user engage the pillow and are maintained evenly spaced apart. Proper ventilation between the legs, as well as proper support and alignment of the spine, hips, and knees, are obtained so as to relieve pain caused by pressure on and/or misalignment of muscles, joints, and nerves, thereby enabling the body to relax and rest comfortably.

Referring to FIGS. 7-13, there is illustrated a second embodiment of the present invention. According to this embodiment, the pillow 200 includes first and second articulating portions 200a and 200b that are hinged together at a hinge 200c. Each portion 200a, 200b forms about half of the thickness of the pillow when the portions are back-to-back in a closed configuration of the pillow. As illustrated in FIGS. 10-12, the portions 200a and 200b articulate about the hinge 200c between an open configuration and the closed configuration. In the closed configuration, the pillow 200 can be inserted between the legs of the user, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 9. In the open position, each of the first and second portions 200a, 200b of the pillow can be used to support one leg of the user, as illustrated in FIG. 8. The pillow 200 can include a massaging system, as described above. More particularly, the first portion 200a can include a first massaging unit 250a, and the second portion 200b can include a second massaging unit 250b. The pillow 200 can further include a sound system and/or a temperature element as described above.

The first portion 200a defines a first leg-engaging face 202 of the pillow 200 and the second portion 200b defines an opposite second leg-engaging face 204 of the pillow. With reference to FIG. 10, the first leg-engaging face 202 defines a convex crest 214, transitioning to a concave valley 216, then transitioning to another convex crest 218. The second leg-engaging face 204 defines a convex crest 220, transitioning to a concave valley 222, then transitioning to another convex crest 224. Each of the articulating portions 200a, 200b has a generally planar back face 226, 228, respectively, opposite from the respective leg-engaging face 202, 204. These generally planar back faces 226, 228 abut each other in the closed configuration of the pillow as shown for instance in FIG. 13.

The hinge 200c is located at a first end face 210 of the pillow. The first end face is formed by a first end face 210a of the first portion 200a and a first end face 210b of the second portion 200b. (FIG. 12). The hinge 200c connects the first end faces 210a and 210b to each other along adjacent edges thereof. Advantageously, the first end faces 210a, 210b are substantially planar such that when the pillow is opened up into the open configuration, the first end faces 210a, 210b can be substantially abutting as shown in FIG. 10. In the closed configuration, the first end faces 210a, 210b collectively form a substantially planar surface that can stably support the pillow in a vertical orientation on a mattress or other sleep surface when the user is in a supine position such as shown in FIG. 7. The opposite second end face 212 of the pillow 200 can be more rounded than the first end face 210.

Each of the first and second portions 200a, 200b includes sidewalls that are generally orthogonal to the back faces 226, 228, respectively. These sidewalls are substantially planar in the illustrated embodiment, although such is not essential.

The pillow 200 can be formed of resilient polymer foam such as polyurethane foam. The first and second portions 200a, 200b can comprise two separate pieces of foam material. An outer fabric cover similar to the cover 140 of the first embodiment can enshroud the two portions. The hinge 200c can be formed by the fabric cover.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, the convex crests 114, 118, 120, 124 of the pillow 100, or the convex crests 214, 218, 220, 224 of the pillow 200, can be asymmetrical in terms of dimensional size, shape, and/or orientation. This can be advantageous because it can enable the pillow to be used for different applications. For example, use in a typical bed may differ from use on a boat or airplane or in a hammock.

Referring to FIG. 14, there is illustrated a packaging system 300 for packaging the pillow 200, according to one embodiment of the present invention. The packaging system 300 includes two articulating portions 300a, 300b, which articulate about a hinge 300c. In one embodiment, the articulating portion 300a of the packaging system 300 completely encompasses the corresponding first portion 200a of the pillow 200, and the articulating portion 300b completely encompasses the second portion 200b of the pillow. In one embodiment, the hinge portion 300c of the packaging system encompasses the hinge portion 200c of the pillow. In other embodiments, the hinge portion 200c of the pillow comprises the hinge portion 300c of the packaging system.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the inventions set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which these inventions pertain having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the inventions are not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.