Title:
SEAT SHELL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat shell includes a plurality of adjustable cushioning elements each having first and second pads and configured to be non-positively attached to an essentially vertical frame section of a frame using an affixing device, wherein the first and second pads each have at least two openings configured as longitudinal slots for receiving each affixing device.



Inventors:
Draeger, Detlef (Hassel/Weser, DE)
Oehlert, Wilfried (Wedemark, DE)
Application Number:
11/844420
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
08/24/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/284.1
International Classes:
A47C3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BROWN, PETER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DARBY & DARBY P.C. (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A seat shell comprising: a plurality of adjustable cushioning elements each having first and second pads and configured to be adjustably attached to an essentially vertical frame section of a frame using an affixing device, wherein the first and second pads each have at least two openings configured as longitudinal slots for receiving each affixing device so as to enable each cushioning element to be adjusted according to a height, a width and an inclination in a plane of at least one of the first pad and the second pad.

2. (canceled)

3. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein a spacing between at least one of the cushioning elements and the frame is adjustable.

4. The seat shell as recited in claim 3, wherein the depth is adjustable by disposing at least one spacer between the cushioning element and the frame section.

5. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein the cushioning elements are arranged so that they can be interchanged.

6. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein a distance between the first and second pads is continuously adjustable.

7. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein, the affixing device is configured to attach a supplementary accessory to the frame.

8. The seat shell as recited in claim 7, wherein the supplemental accessory includes at least one additional cushioning element.

9. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein the affixing means includes a screwed connection.

10. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the vertical frame section includes an open metal profile.

11. The seat shell as recited in claim 10, wherein the open metal profile includes a U profile.

12. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, wherein the at least two elongated openings include two parallel longitudinal slots.

13. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, further comprising a back area having a plurality of further cushioning element each including two pads and configured as at least one of a pelvis cushion module, a lumbar cushion module, a chest cushion module and a shoulder cushion module.

14. The seat shell as recited in claim 1, further comprising a seat surface having a slitlike recess and configured to adjust at least one of a seat depth and a seat width.

Description:

Priority is claimed to German Patent Application No. DE 20 2007 007 001.2. filed on May 15, 2007, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

The present invention relates to a seat shell with adjustable cushioning elements.

BACKGROUND

Such seat shells have support functions and allow disabled persons to maintain an upright sitting position and also offer the support that disabled persons need in order to sit with a physiologically correct posture. To this end, the seat shells have a modular design or are directly custom-made.

This type of seat shell can be augmented by mobility aids or wheelchairs for purposes of enhancing mobility. A wide array of fixtures and holding systems augment the function of the shells and provide support for sitting.

Various seat shell sizes are available to accommodate different body sizes so as to provide an equal measure of comfortable sitting over a wide range, from small children to tall and heavy persons.

For this purpose, a solid outer shell, especially one made of fiberglass-reinforced material, is fitted with several inner parts which, as a function of the patient's size, are cushioned or padded with soft foam to specifically fit the patient.

In addition, molded shells having a seat and a backrest molded part are known which are cushioned to size with polyether foam. Here, several Velcro closures serve to join the pads to the seat and to the backrest.

Another known approach in this context is a design in which the shoulder joints can move freely. Very good lateral support is provided in the transition area between the chest and the lumbar spine by means of specially configured cushioning elements.

In order to produce such molded shells, volume models such as body forms (also made directly to fit the patient's body), gypsum casts, vacuum casting or other three-dimensional parts, are acquired digitally and spatially in real dimensions and stored as a computer-based model. The stored 3D data is processed by various software programs and subsequently transferred to a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling machine that generates a precisely dimensioned foam cushion module for the patient. The milled cushion parts are incorporated into the molded shell and finished with a covering and accessories.

A drawback found in actual practice, however, is that considerable work is involved in the production of such custom-made molded shells. Moreover, these molded shells can only be adapted to a very limited extent to changing physical requirements of the person, for example, in the case of growing children, so that it is often necessary to manufacture a new item.

European patent application EP 1256 333 A2 also discloses a seat for disabled persons, comprising a seat surface, several back cushion modules which are arranged in pairs and are pivotable by means of a ball-and-socket joint and whose distance can be varied relative to horizontally adjacent cushion modules, and comprising a head cushion module. Moreover, by means of a screwed connection, adjacent cushion modules can be affixed in pairs at different vertical positions defined by the individual recesses.

A disadvantage encountered here is the relatively great effort required to adjust the back cushion modules. Moreover, it has been found that the support and holding functions of the back cushion modules that can be achieved in this manner are not optimal.

Furthermore, European patent application EP 1 584 315 A1 discloses an orthopedic spinal column support for disabled persons that is configured as a seating device. The spinal column support has support elements that can be affixed at different spatial positions. A drawback in this context is the rather limited possibility of adjustment to the individual requirements of the user.

DE 691 22 268 T2 relates to a chair for disabled persons having at least a seat that is adjustably connected to a supporting frame by means of a hinge at the rear of the seat. The axes of the hinge are arranged parallel to each other. A front section intended to support the thigh as well as a back section intended to support the pelvis that can be adjusted independently of each other are arranged at the rear of the seat.

Moreover, German utility model DE 298 03 725 U1 describes a wheelchair having a frame with a seat surface and a frame with two back tubes, each of which supports a backrest element. The backrest elements can be mounted at a variable distance on a crossbar.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a seat shell with adjustable cushioning elements with which an optimal sitting and holding function can be achieved with simple means.

The present invention provides a seat shell with adjustable cushioning elements, these cushioning elements each have two pads and can be non-positively attached to an essentially vertical frame section of a frame by means of an affixing means, whereby the pads each have at least two holes configured as longitudinal slots for each affixing means.

This has made it possible for the first time to easily create an adaptable arrangement of the cushioning elements that can be adjusted by simple means to the individual requirements of the user, said cushioning elements being configured here as pads so as to allow the medically required support and holding functions or, if applicable, a compression of certain body regions or tissues. Towards this end, the outer area of each pad has an angled support zone that laterally encompasses the body of the user. Owing to its user-friendliness, loosening the affixing means makes it possible to move the pads in all spatial axes and to also set them in any desired orientation, so that the adjustment can also be undertaken individually as desired every time the seat shell is used, for example, in order to make a quick adjustment to accommodate changing requirements in terms of comfort.

In particular, it is advantageous here that the cushioning elements can be adjusted in terms of their relative height, width as well as inclination and that they can be attached by means of the affixing means, so that, after the affixing means has been loosened, the desired spatial arrangement can be set with a single manual adjustment.

In this context, it is particularly advantageous for the depth of the cushioning elements to be adjustable, especially in order to thus achieve a largely uniform distribution of the pressure associated with the desired support effect.

For this purpose, it has been proven to be especially practical if, for the depth adjustment, at least one spacer can be placed between the cushioning element and the frame section, whereby the spacer can be adjusted in terms of its dimensions—which determine the distance—or else it can be interchanged, thus allowing a quick adaptation that sets the desired distance independently of the free adjustability in the direction of the other spatial axes.

In another, likewise very practical modification, the cushioning elements are arranged so that they can be interchanged, so as to create an adaptation capability that goes beyond the adjustment range of the cushioning elements, especially for children during their growth phase. As a result, the seat shell affords a virtually unlimited service life thanks to its versatile adaptability and to the fact that the pads can be replaced when they show signs of wear.

Another particularly advantageous embodiment of the present invention is one in which the distance of the pads of each cushioning element is continuously adjustable so as to create a lateral support function which, on the one hand, can be adapted to the circumstances on hand and, on the other hand, the cushioning element can be moved out of its range of movement to make it more convenient for the user to sit down or stand up, thus not unnecessarily restricting the freedom of motion.

Furthermore, the seat shell according to the invention can be used in a particularly versatile manner in that, as needed, the affixing means can be used to attach supplementary accessories, especially additional cushioning elements which, in the form of slip-on elements, can be placed, for example, at the back of the cushioning element, thus creating an armrest for the upper arm region of the user, so that the person can also be transported while prone without changing the sitting position. This considerably expands the area of application of the seat shell.

The affixing means can be configured in virtually any desired form, for instance, as a toggle catch. Conversely, it is particularly advantageous for the affixing means to have a screwed connection so that the manufacturing work can be kept to a minimum. For this purpose, the screwed connection has a carriage bolt whose head engages into a recess in the cushioning element, while, at the back, its threaded section passes through the frame section that interacts with a wing nut that can be turned manually without a tool.

An embodiment of the seat shell is suitable for this purpose in which the vertical frame section is configured, at least in sections, as an open metal profile, especially a U-profile that, between its parallel legs, accommodates a nut, especially a wing nut, that forms the screwed connection. Through the recessed arrangement, an unintentional actuation of the wing nut is largely precluded.

A refinement of the invention that is particularly useful in actual practice is one in which the elongated holes are configured as two parallel longitudinal slots so that a reliable fixation can be achieved with simple handling.

In another particularly promising modification, the back area of the seat shell has several cushioning elements, each comprising two pads and configured as a pelvis cushion module, as a lumbar cushion module, as a chest cushion module and as a shoulder cushion module, which optimally form four zones to support the entire back area. Thus, the support and holding functions can be optimally configured.

In an ideal manner, a refinement can be implemented in that the seat shell has a seat surface with a slit-like recess so that the seat depth or seat width can be adjusted as desired, thus further improving the adaptation possibilities.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention permits various embodiments. In order to further illustrate its basic principle, one such embodiment is depicted in the drawing and described below. The following is shown:

FIG. 1—a perspective view of a seat shell according to the invention, comprising several cushioning elements, each having two pads; and

FIG. 2—one of the pads shown in FIG. 1, in a view from the back as well as in a side view.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT

The seat shell 1 according to the invention will be presented in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. A seat shell 1 can be seen which is intended for attachment as desired to a mobility aid (not shown here) and which has four cushioning elements 2, 3, 4, 5 arranged at different levels and each having two pads 6, 7. Each cushioning element 2, 3, 4, 5 can be non-positively attached by means of an affixing means 10 to an essentially vertical frame section 8 of a frame 9 configured as an angled profile frame. For this purpose, the pads 6, 7 each have two elongated holes 11, 12 for an affixing means 10 configured as a screwed connection so that the height, inclination, depth and lateral positioning of the pads 6, 7 can easily be adjusted. For purposes of adjusting the depth, a spacer 16 is placed between the cushioning element 2, 3, 4, 5, and the frame section 8. The adjustable pad 6, 7 stabilizes the body and brings about a healing effect owing to its support and holding functions. As needed, the affixing means 10 can be used to attach supplementary accessories 13, especially additional cushioning elements, thus creating, for example, an arm guide to support the upper arm, for instance, as a passive armrest for transportation in the prone position. At the same time, the pads 6, 7 can be replaced by standard elements or individually adjustable molded parts. For the adaptation, laterally adjacent pads 6, 7 can be adjusted independently of each other, both in terms of their height and their lateral position, especially so that the distance can be varied. Moreover, the seat shell 1 has a seat surface 14 comprising a slit-like recess 15 that serves to adjust the seat depth and seat width.





 
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