Title:
Arm Support System And Components Thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An arm support system (2), for stabilizing and ergonomically supporting the arm (14) of a breast feeding mother (10) whilst cradling an infant (3) in the traditional suckling position. The arm support system (2) comprising a sleeve (12) for surrounding the user's arm an arm support (4) including: a base (6) for engaging the thigh; and an upper surface (20) for supporting the arm and a temporary attachment means (16, 18) for attaching the sleeve (12) to the arm support (4). The arm support (4) can be an inflatable and deflatable.



Inventors:
Adiri, Roni (Kfar Vitkin, IL)
Adiri, Noam (Kfar Vitkin, IL)
Application Number:
12/097305
Publication Date:
12/25/2008
Filing Date:
12/04/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/655.3
International Classes:
A47C16/00; A47C20/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz LLP (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A support system for supporting a user's arm on user's thigh, the support system comprising: (a) a sleeve for surrounding the user's arm; (b) an arm support including: (i) a base for engaging the user's thigh; and (ii) an upper surface for supporting the user's arm; and (c) a temporary attaching means for attaching said sleeve to said arm support.

2. A support system for supporting a cradling arm of a mother whilst feeding an infant, the support system comprising: (a) a sleeve for surrounding said mother's arm; (b) an arm support including: (i) a base for engaging a thigh of said mother; and (ii) an upper surface for supporting said cradling arm of said mother; and (c) a temporary attaching means for attaching said sleeve to said arm support.

3. The support system of claim 2, wherein said arm support further includes: (iii) an inflatable airtight bladder; wherein said base is configured to rest on said thigh of said mother and said upper surface is configured to support said cradling arm of said mother.

4. The support system of claim 3, further comprising: (d) a valve for inflation and deflation of said inflatable airtight bladder, said valve being disposed on said arm support.

5. The support system of claim 4, further comprising: (e) a pump for inflating said inflatable airtight bladder, said pump being disposed on said valve.

6. The support system of claim 2, wherein said arm support further includes: (iii) an airtight bladder, disposed inside said arm support; (iv) a regulator for regulating a quantity of air within said airtight bladder, disposed on said arm support; and (v) a resilient helical spring for urging said arm support into an expanded position disposed inside said arm support.

7. The support system of claim 6, wherein said regulator includes a fine manual adjustment means for fine adjustment of a quantity of air within said airtight bladder.

8. The support system of claim 3, wherein said base of said arm support includes a securing means for securing said arm support to said thigh of said mother.

9. The support system of claim 8, wherein said securing means is selected from a group consisting of rubber grips, straps, a non-slip material, and fastener strips.

10. The support system of claim 1 further comprising: (d) a cloth that is irremovably connected to said sleeve by a coupling means.

11. The support system of claim 10 wherein said coupling means is selected from a group consisting of fastener strips, press-studs, zips, buttons, and hook-and-eye fasteners.

12. The support system of claim 10, wherein said cloth is fabricated from a cotton fabric.

13. The support system of claim 2, wherein said arm support has a height dimension, wherein said support system height dimension enables variable alignment of the mouth of said infant with said mother's breasts.

14. The support system of claim 2, wherein said arm support base are constructed from a pliable material which conforms to a contours of said mother's thigh and wherein said arm support upper surface is constructed from a pliable material which conforms to a contours of said mother.

15. The support system of claim 2, wherein said arm support has a structure enabling inflation and deflation and wherein said base is configured to rest said mother's thigh and said upper surface is configured to support said cradling arm of said mother.

16. The support system of claim 15, further comprising: (d) a valve disposed on said arm support.

17. The support system of claim 16, further comprising: (e) a pump for inflating said arm support, disposed on said valve.

18. The support system of claim 15, wherein said arm support further includes: (iii) a regulator for regulating a quantity of air within said arm support, disposed on said arm support; and (iv) a resilient helical spring for urging said arm support into an expanded position disposed inside said arm support.

19. The support system of claim 18, wherein said regulator includes a fine manual adjustment means for fine adjustment of a quantity of air within said arm support.

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to providing an arm support system, which, among other uses, may be used for stabilizing and supporting the arm of a breastfeeding mother whilst cradling an infant in the traditional suckling position.

Whilst breastfeeding her baby, the mother (or wet nurse) is required to align the baby's mouth with her nipple. Traditionally the mother sits on a chair and cradles the infant in her arms. Holding a baby like this for any length of time puts considerable stress on the mother's body. Many mothers suffer from cramps in the lower back, neck, shoulders and arms. Even bottle fed babies are typically supported in a similar position whilst feeding, resulting in similar muscle fatigue.

To provide support, a bed pillow, bolster, cushion or the like may be used to provide support for the baby, or for the elbow of the cradling arm. Such solutions are only partially successful, particularly for nursing mothers who must adjust the height of the baby's head to align it with the nipple of the breast.

If the mother is tense or uncomfortable, the baby often senses this, adversely affecting the feeding experience and causing stress for both parties.

The need for ergonomic, comfortable support of the baby is an issue that has been addressed in the past, and there are several products available on the market and several inventions described in the patent literature that relate to developments in this field.

Some developments are directed toward solving the problem of mouth to nipple alignment such as the devices described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,651,282 which describes a crescent shaped pillow that is both highly flexible and supportive. These properties are achieved through the use of a low density bead filling which can shift and flow within a casing. During the feeding session the nursing pillow encompasses the mid-section of the user's body and the baby is directly supported on the outer surface of the nursing pillow. One disadvantage of this type of pillow is that since it does not attach to the user's body, an active baby resting thereupon may wiggle and push the pillow away. A further disadvantage is that since the baby is directly supported by the pillow it does not feel the warmth or heartbeat of the mother. Additionally, such a pillow is bulky and is thus difficult to transport from place to place by a mother whilst shopping or visiting. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that pillows which surround the body of the user are inherently awkward and uncomfortable in hot weather.

Other developments which address the comfort of the mother include pillows, holders, slings and the like that are designed to reduce cramps and stress in the back, neck, shoulder and arm as commonly experienced by nursing mothers. U.S. Pat. No. 6,233,767 describes a support pillow which has a generally crescent shaped configuration, having a central portion and two opposed arms that project from the central portion. The support pillow includes an inflatable air chamber and a removable cover. It provides support for the entire body of the baby and not just for the cradling arm of the user. However, since the support pillow does not attach to the user's body, it may slip, and, in consequence, is both unsafe and awkward.

Nursing slings are designed to hold a baby at the breast. The weight of the sling pulls on the mother's neck and upper back and can cause considerable stress and be very uncomfortable. Reversing the baby to nurse on the other breast can be quite cumbersome and annoying to the baby. A sling type device also tends to pull the baby's head and body toward the mother, which restricts the baby's freedom of movement and may be dangerous as well. Such sling type devices are thus unsuitable for bottle feeding.

Despite the developments described above, there is still a need for a device which addresses the aforementioned problems. The present invention relates to a support system that offers numerous advantages over the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an aim of the present invention to provide a support system for ergonomically supporting the cradling arm of a carer, and particularly for supporting the cradling arm of a nursing mother, holding a nursing infant to her breast.

It is an aim of preferred embodiments, that the cradling arm be well supported, and that the weight of the infant be transferred to the leg of carer, to reduce fatigue, back ache and stress on arms and shoulders.

It is a particular aim of preferred embodiments of the present invention that the cradling arm is removably fixed to the support system, so that arm cannot slip if the nursing mother should doze off whilst nursing at night, for example.

It is a specific aim of preferred embodiments, that the support system be lightweight and collapsible, and be easily packed away for transportation.

It is a particular aim of preferred embodiments that a general purpose cloth be removably attached to the support system to be in convenient reach. Such a cloth may serve a multitude of functions such as for covering the mother's breast when nursing in public places, for protecting the mother's clothes whilst burping the infant or for wiping up milk droplets from breast or from baby's face.

It is a further aim of preferred embodiments of the present invention that the support system be ergonomic and adaptable to the body of the mother.

It is a further aim of preferred embodiments of the present invention, that the support system allows easy and comfortable alignment of the infant's mouth with the nipple of the mother's breast to ensure comfortable feeding.

It is a further aim of the present invention to provide a system which is adaptable to infants and mothers of different sizes.

It is a further aim of the present invention to provide a support system which enables smoothly transferring the baby from one breast to the other, minimizing stress to the ravenous baby.

In a first aspect, the present invention is directed to providing a support system for supporting a user's arm on the user's thigh, the support system comprises: (i) a sleeve for surrounding the user's arm; (ii) an arm support having a base for engaging the thigh and an upper surface for supporting the arm, and (iii) a temporary attaching means for attaching the sleeve to the arm support.

Typically the support system is used for supporting the cradling arm of a mother whilst feeding an infant. Typically, the arm support comprises a base, a upper surface and an inflatable airtight bladder, the base is configured to rest on a thigh of the mother and the upper surface is configured to support the cradling arm of the mother.

In one embodiment, the arm support further comprises a valve for inflation and deflation of the airtight bladder.

Optionally the support system further comprises a pump for inflating the airtight bladder.

In a second embodiment, the arm support comprises an airtight bladder, a regulator for regulating the quantity of air within the airtight bladder and a resilient helical spring for urging the arm support into an expanded position. Preferably, the regulator includes a fine manual adjustment means for fine adjusting the quantity of air within the airtight bladder.

Optionally and preferably, the base of the arm support comprises a securing means for securing the arm support to the thigh of the mother, such as rubber grips, straps, non-slip material and fastener strips, which are sticky back hook and loop strips such as those known and in common use around the world by the brand name of Velcro® strips

Preferred embodiments of the arm support system further comprise a cloth that is removably connected to the sleeve by a coupling means that is optionally selected from a group consisting of fastener strips, press-studs, zips, buttons and hook-and-eye fasteners.

Typically the cloth is fabricated from a cotton fabric.

Preferably the height of the arm support is variable for aligning mouth of the infant with breast of the mother.

A second aspect of the invention is directed to the arm support of the arm support system as described hereinabove.

A third aspect of the invention is directed to the sleeve of the arm support system as described hereinabove.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the invention and to show how it may be carried into effect, reference will now be made, purely by way of example, to the accompanying drawings.

With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the preferred embodiments of the present invention only, and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention; the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the invention may be embodied in practice.

In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mother suckling a breastfeeding baby, the mother using a support system of a first embodiment of the present invention to ergonomically support the cradling arm;

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of the mother and baby of FIG. 1, where a cloth is provided that is removably attached to the sleeve of the support system;

FIG. 2B is a perspective view of the mother baby, support system and cloth of FIG. 2A, where the cloth is used to cover head of baby and breast of mother;

FIG. 3 is an isometric projection of the arm support and sleeve, showing how the arm support may be inflated via a squeeze pump;

FIG. 4 is a cross-section through the sleeve and fully inflated arm support of the embodiment of FIG. 3, showing a one way ball valve on the squeeze pump;

FIG. 5 is a cross-section through a sleeve and partially inflated arm support of the embodiment of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is an isometric projection of a second embodiment of the present invention wherein the sleeve has an arcuate cross section and the two legs of the arch are affixable to the arm support via a pair fastener strips, the cloth is attachable to the wall of the sleeve via a third fastener strip;

FIG. 7 is a cut away view of the embodiment of FIG. 6 showing a helical spring that may replace or compliment the air filled bladder of the support cushion;

FIG. 8 is a cross section through a wide open, dual operation regulator for equalizing pressure inside the arm support with the surrounding air pressure; and

FIG. 9 is a cross section through the dual operation regulator showing how fine adjustment of the amount of air within the arm support may be accomplished by manual opening of the regulator.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. The materials, dimensions, methods, and examples provided herein are illustrative only and are not intended to be limiting.

With reference to FIG. 1, a support system 2 for supporting the cradling arm 14 of the carer of an infant 3, particularly, the cradling arm 14 of a breast-feeding mother 10 is shown.

The support system 2 includes a sleeve 12 that fits around the carer's arm 14 and is releasably attachable to an arm support 4 by fastener strips such as Velcro® or similar attaching means. In preferred embodiments, a cloth 22 (see FIGS. 2 and 3), such as a towel or a traditional cloth diaper, is removable attached to the sleeve 12. Such a cloth 22 may be used for wiping the mouth of the infant 3, for protecting the carer's garments when burping the infant 3, and, for covering the head of the feeding infant 3 and mother's breast, providing privacy to the mother 10. The arm support 4 is designed to be rested on the mother's thigh 8 and provides both support and stability to the mother's arm 14, thereby minimizing muscle cramp and strain in the upper body, lower back, neck, shoulders and arm as often suffered by nursing mothers 10 and, indeed, other carriers, whilst cradling an infant 3.

Although designed primarily for supporting the cradling arm 14 of nursing mothers 10, the support system 2 of the present invention may be useful for other applications, such as for supporting the arms of writers, typists, and computer mouse operators, for example.

It is a particular feature of the present invention that the arm support 4 is hollow and air filled, and may be inflated and collapsed. The user may vary the pressure within the arm support 4 over the entire range between fully inflated and fully deflated positions, and thereby support the cradling arm 14 at different heights, allowing it to be supported at an appropriate height to comfortably support the cradled infant's head at an appropriate elevation to allow ergonomic alignment of the baby to the breast to facilitate comfortable feeding. It will be appreciated that if the alignment is incorrect, the baby may receive an inadequate supply of milk, or might choke.

The base 6 and upper surface 20 of the arm support 4 are preferably constructed from a pliable material which conforms to the contours of the carer's thigh 8 and arm 14 respectively. The underside of the base 6 is preferably provided with grips or is fabricated from an anti-slip material to firmly engage the thigh 8. Additionally or alternatively, straps may be provided for strapping the arm support 4 to the thigh 8. Although less practical for mothers wearing skirts, such straps are ideal for mothers wearing shorts or slacks, and may be closed with a quick release buckle such as widely used in baby car seats, high chairs and the like, or may use fastener strips such as Velcro® or similar. The upper surface 20 of the arm support may be upholstered with a soft fabric for additional comfort. Mating pieces of fastener strips such as Velcro® or similar detachable fixing means are provided on the upper surface 20 of the arm support 4 and on the sleeve 12 for detachably connecting the sleeve 12 to the arm support 4.

With the cradling arm 14 comfortably and firmly supported by the arm support 4 and sleeve 12 combination, the infant 3 cradled thereby is comfortably supported in a correct position for suckling, providing a relaxed and healthy experience for both mother 10 and child 3. Preferred embodiments of the support system 2 are easily collapsible and lightweight. The support system 2 may be conveniently carried in a handbag, or, along with diapers, pacifiers, wipes and the like, in the bag used for carrying the baby's accessories.

A support system 2 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention is shown. The support system 2 includes an adjustable, portable arm support 4 that has a base 6 that engages the thigh 8 of the mother 10 (or wetnurse). A detachable sleeve 12 that surrounds the forearm of the cradling arm 14 of the mother 10 is also provided. The cradling arm 14 of the mother 10 rests on the arm support 4. Mating fastener strips such as Velcro® strips 16, 18 (FIG. 3) are provided on the underside of the detachable sleeve 12 and on the upper surface 20 of the arm support 4 for securing the forearm 14 of the mother 10 to the arm support 4. The strips 16, 18 provides an easily detachable securing means, but, nevertheless, holds the arm 14 to the arm support 4, providing support and preventing the arm 14 from slipping if the mother 10 should doze off whilst feeding the baby 3, as sometimes happens during night feeding sessions, for example. Preferably the base 6 and upper surface 20 of the arm support 4 are padded or upholstered for comfort.

Preferably the detachable sleeve 12 is fabricated from a hypoallergenic material such as cotton, or from a wipe clean synthetic fabric such as nylon or polyester. The detachable sleeve 12 may, however, be fabricated from a stiffer material, such as polypropylene, for example. The sleeve 12 of the support system 2, is pulled over or wrapped around the mother's 10 arm and releasably attached or secured onto the arm support 4. In contradistinction to conventional pillows and cushions as have been used in the past, which typically supported the baby directly, the arm support 4 of the invention provides firm support to the cradling arm 14 of the mother 10 and only indirectly supports the infant 3. The upper surface 20 of the arm support 4 typically has a concave furrow running therealong, for accepting the underside of the sleeve 12.

As shown in FIG. 2A, a cloth 22 may be provided that is attachable to the sleeve 12 by an attaching means, such as a strip of Velcro® 24 (FIG. 1) on the sleeve 12 and a second strip (not shown) on the cloth 22. Other attachment means, such as press-studs, buttons, zippers and the like, might be substituted, however. Such a cloth 22 is useful for a multitude of purposes, such as to wipe the mother's 10 nipple or the mouth of the infant 3. As shown in FIG. 2B, the cloth 22 may be flipped upwards to cover the head of the infant 3, since many babies and infants feel secure when covered. Similarly, flipping the cloth 22 upwards in this manner conceals the mother's 10 breast, making nursing in public less embarrassing to the mother and more socially acceptable. Additionally, the cloth may be used to protect the mother's 10 garments when burping the baby.

Referring to FIG. 3, in preferred embodiments, the arm support 4 is inflatable and deflatable, or at least includes one or more inflatable bladders therewithin.

A valve 26 is provided in a wall of the arm support 4, to which a pump 28 may be connected. As shown, pump 28 may be a simple squeezable rubber bulb 30 that is connectable to the valve 26 by a piece of tubing 32. Squeezing the rubber bulb 30 forces air down tubing 32 through the valve 26 and into the arm support 4. When the squeezing force is relaxed, a one way valve 34 on the rubber bulb 30 allows air to enter the rubber bulb 30, returning it to its unsqueezed shape, for further pumping.

By allowing the arm support 4 to be inflated and deflated, it may be packed into a very small space, for easy transportation. By being essentially an air filled bladder, the arm support 4 is typically very lightweight. Furthermore, by varying the quantity of air pumped into the arm support 4, the position of the head of the feeding infant 3 may be adjusted, thereby allowing better alignment with the mother's 10 nipple. It will be appreciated that correct elevation of the baby's head makes suckling comfortable to the baby 3, it being appreciated that if baby 3 is uncomfortable, he/she will likely find feeling tiring, and may fall asleep without having consumed sufficient milk. Comfortable feeding minimizes the amount of air swallowed, prevents choking, minimizes the need to burp, reducing the incidence of stomach cramps and colic. Feeding a baby 3 while in the horizontal position has been determined to be a cause of ear infection, and this problem is also minimized. Unlike with many prior art devices, transferring the baby 3 from one breast to the other is straightforward, and is quickly and smoothly accomplished, with the sleeve 12 (and arm support 4 if necessary) being easily moved from one side to the other. This minimizes trauma to the baby 3, and thereby to the mother 10, and, indirectly, perhaps to other members of the family or bystanders.

With reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, showing a cross section through a fully and partially inflated arm support 4 respectively, the one way valve 34 on the rubber bulb 30 may be a simple ball valve, comprising a ball 36 and hollow metal nut 38 that screws onto a female threaded inlet 40 that protrudes from the rubber bulb 30 of the pump 28. As shown in FIG. 5, unless support cushion 4 is fully inflated to a very high pressure, the base 6 of the arm support 4 will typically mold itself somewhat to the thigh 8 of the mother, preventing it from slipping thereoff. Additionally, the underside of the base 6 of the support cushion 4 may usefully be provided with some gripping means, or covered with a non-slip fabric for example, or straps may be provided for attachment to the thigh 8 of the mother 10. It will be appreciated that a pump 28, such as the rubber bulb 30 type squeeze pump shown in FIGS. 3 to 5 is an optional feature provided in some embodiments only, with preferred embodiments of the arm support 4 being optionally inflatable by mouth.

With reference to FIGS. 6 and 7, in a support system 102 in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, the arm support 104 includes an inner spring mechanism 150 (shown in FIG. 7) for rapid and automatic expansion. Releasably attachable sleeve 112 and cloth 122 are attached to the arm support 104 with fastener strips such as Velcro® pieces 116A, 116B on the upper surface 120 of the arm support 104 and complementary fastener strips such as Velcro® pieces (not shown) on sleeve 112. Similarly, mating fastener strips such as Velcro® strips or other attachment means are provided for attaching the cloth 122 to the sleeve 112, mutatis mutandis. A regulator 125 can be disposed upon the upper surface 120 of the arm support 104 or in any other suitable location, as will be further described in detail.

With reference to FIGS. 8 and 9, a regulator 125 is provided for adjusting the quantity of air within the arm support 104. When regulator 125 is open, the arm support 104 is expanded by the inner spring mechanism 150 and then the arm support 104 may be locked in the open position by closing the regulator 125. With the regulator 125 in its open configuration, the spring mechanism 150 (FIG. 7) may be collapsed by squeezing, and the regulator 125 may then be closed to keep the arm support 104 in a collapsed state. It will be appreciated that the collapsed arm support 104 takes up little volume and is easily packed into a handbag or the like.

With particular reference now to FIG. 8, the regulator 125 may be constructed from a hollow, bolt like, male threaded protrusion 128 that extends from the upper surface 120 of the arm support 104. A threaded, cup like cover 134 screws onto the threaded protrusion 128. A flange 138 extends outwards around the mouth of the cup like cover 134, and a washer 136 is provided. If cup like cover 134 is screwed firmly downwards, the flange 138 is brought downwards, blocking holes 137 at base of threaded protrusion 128, and squashing washer 136, providing an air tight seal. Unscrewing the cup separates flange 138 from surface thereunder, allowing air to enter or leave the arm support 104.

With reference to FIG. 9, preferably the regulator 125 is a dual mode regulator that includes a manual fine adjustment means 132 that may be manually depressed by a finger, thereby displacing a ball seal 135 or similar, and allowing air to flow therethrough. The manual fine adjustment means 132 allows fine adjustment of the volume of the arm support 104 therebeneath and allows the height thereof to be adjusted to align the mouth of a suckling infant to the nipple of the mother, for example.

The basic design of the support system 2 (102) is capable of much variation, and the type of valve(s) or pump used may vary widely. Thus persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention is not limited to what has been particularly shown and described hereinabove. Rather the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims and includes both combinations and sub combinations of the various features described hereinabove as well as variations and modifications thereof, which would occur to persons skilled in the art upon reading the foregoing description.