Title:
Arch support with a patterned surface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An arch support orthotic device comprises an upper surface facing a wearer's foot, and a lower surface facing a footwear, wherein the upper surface is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material responding flexibly to a weight of the wearer, and wherein the lower surface comprises an arch support section facing an inner sole surface of the footwear including a plurality of support structures that performs an arch supporting function, controls a deformability of the orthotic device so as to reduce loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer, and prevents substantial deformation against the inner sole surface of the footwear.



Inventors:
Conforti, Jeffrey (Franklin Lakes, NJ, US)
Guadara, John (Franklin Lakes, NJ, US)
Kim, Mingoo (Franklin Lakes, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/222838
Publication Date:
12/25/2008
Filing Date:
08/18/2008
Assignee:
Body Tech Laboratories, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/43, 36/166, 36/173
International Classes:
A43B7/22; A43B7/14; A43B7/16; A43B13/38
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20070137065Inflatable sole for shoeJune, 2007Vera
20090133292FOOTWEAR ORTHOSISMay, 2009Salvatelli et al.
20040093765Shoe with interchangeable upperMay, 2004Baldwin
20020078603Interchangeable durometer coupling ring cleatJune, 2002Wayne I Jr.
20080203144Artificial Intelligence Shoe Mounting a Controller and Method for Measuring Quantity of MotionAugust, 2008Kim
20080086909Insole for sports shoes, particularly for golfApril, 2008Raspini
20070151126Shoes for walking reformJuly, 2007Jeong
20080184593Insole coveringAugust, 2008Draghiceanu
20060064904Sports boot in very stiff materialMarch, 2006Confortin et al.
20090083995SoleApril, 2009Hsieh et al.



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 comprising: an upper surface facing a wearer's foot; and a lower surface facing a footwear; wherein the upper surface is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material responding flexibly to a weight of the wearer; wherein the lower surface comprises an arch support section facing an inner sole surface of the footwear and including a plurality of support structures that are interconnected along the lower surface; and wherein vertical lengths of the support structures increase from a center surface of the footwear towards the inner sole surface of the footwear.

2. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of support structures are substantially periodically interconnected in at least one direction.

3. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of support structures are substantially periodically interconnected in at least two directions.

4. The arch support orthotic device of claim 3, wherein the plurality of support structures are substantially square.

5. The arch support orthotic device of claim 3, wherein the plurality of support structures have a substantially honeycomb shape.

6. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein the upper surface is contoured to substantially conform to a shape of an arch of the wearer's foot.

7. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein the arch support orthotic device is insertable into the footwear.

8. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein a length of the arch support orthotic device is smaller than a length of the inner sole surface of the footwear.

9. The arch support orthotic device of claim 8, wherein a portion of the lower surface is coated with an adhesive to prevent the arch support orthotic device from slipping against the inner sole surface of the footwear.

10. The arch support orthotic device of claim 9, wherein the arch support orthotic device is detachable, reusable, and washable.

11. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein the vertical lengths of the support structures are 0.28 to 0.5 inches.

12. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein a thickness of the support structures is 0.055 to 0.125 inches.

13. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, wherein the deformable semi-rigid material includes polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, subortholon, or the like.

14. The arch support orthotic device of claim 1, further comprising: a heel section; and a toe section; wherein the heel section and the toe section are attached to the arch support section at respective ends thereof.

15. An arch support orthotic device comprising: an upper surface facing a wearer's foot; and a lower surface facing a footwear, the lower surface including a plurality of means for providing an arch support for a wearer's foot, wherein the means for supporting are laterally interconnected with one another in at least one direction to reduce loss of an arch support.

16. The arch support orthotic device of claim 15, further comprising: a means for preventing slipping of the orthotic device against a surface of a footwear.

17. The arch support orthotic device of claim 15, wherein the means for supporting are laterally interconnected with one another in at least two directions.

18. The arch support orthotic device of claim 17, further comprising: a means for preventing slipping of the orthotic device against an inner sole surface of a footwear.

Description:

This application is a Continuation in Part and claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/544,411, filed on Oct. 4, 2006, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/839,775, filed on Aug. 24, 2006, which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of arch support orthotics for feet, and more particularly to arch support orthotics having a patterned surface on the underside of the arch curve.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

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

Arch supports come in a variety of shapes, configurations, angles, sizes, and materials of construction. One of ordinary skill in the art would recognize that the phrase “arch support” indicates a device designed to engage the arch of a wearer to provide support and comfort thereto. Arch support structures realign and support flat feet, fallen arches, and alleviate or prevent pain in the foot and leg.

Related art arch support structures can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,817,115 B2, 6,966,131 B2, 6,804,902 B1, 6,854,199 B2, and 6,598,319 B2. Although each of the orthotic devices listed above comes with its solution to some problem, a main deficiency of the related art devices generally is that the arch support curved portion of the orthotic typically becomes irreversibly compressed by constant use, thereby losing its original curvature and the resiliency thereof. Without the original curvature, much of the arch support is lost, which leads to fallen arches resulting in subsequent arch, foot and leg pain. Shoe orthotics prescribed by medical practitioners are custom made and may resolve the problem on an individual basis. However, they are typically very rigid and, being custom made, are usually very expensive.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to an arch support with square or honeycomb structures that substantially obviates one or more problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.

An object of the present invention is to provide a pre-made arch support orthotic device that will fit the average person in the general population and provide fairly rigid, yet somewhat flexible, support to the 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. Also, 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 merely increasing the thickness of the orthotic device would result in an unacceptable increase of weight and decrease in flexibility of the orthotic device. It would also limit the type of shoe that would be able to be worn by the user of the orthotics.

Thus, another object of the present invention is to provide an arch support orthotic device 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.

An additional object of the present invention is to provide an arch support orthotic device that is controllably deformable under the weight of the user so that it does not completely collapse in use, thereby losing its arch supporting feature.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an arch support orthotic device that will fit the average person in the general population, regardless of whether the width of the person's feet is wide or narrow, by having the length of the arch support orthotic device being less than 100% of the length of the shoes.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an arch support orthotic device that is removable from one pair of shoes to another.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an arch support orthotic device that is washable and reusable.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an arch support orthotic device that does not slip within the shoes in spite of the size of the arch support orthotic device being less than 100% of the shoes.

To achieve these and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the present invention, as embodied and broadly described, the arch support with square or honeycomb structure includes an upper surface facing a wearer's foot, and a lower surface facing the inner sole of the footwear, wherein the upper surface is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material responding flexibly to the weight of the wearer, and wherein the lower surface comprises an arch support section facing the inner sole surface of the footwear including a plurality of support structures that performs an arch supporting function, controls the deformability of the orthotic device so as to reduce loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer, and prevents substantial deformation against the inner sole surface of the footwear.

In another aspect, the arch support orthotic device includes a means for supporting a wearer's arch and preventing loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer, wherein deformation of the supporting means is reduced by preventing separation or splaying of the supporting means due to their attachment with one another in one direction.

In another aspect, the arch support orthotic device includes a means for supporting a wearer's arch and preventing loss of the arch supporting function when worn by the wearer, wherein deformation of the supporting means is reduced by preventing separation or splaying of the supporting means due to their attachment with one another in two directions.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an arch support orthotic device according to a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of an arch support orthotic device according to the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of an arch support orthotic device according to the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top view of an arch support orthotic device according to the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of an arch support orthotic device according to a second exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a front view of an arch support orthotic device according to the second exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a side view of an arch support orthotic device according to the second exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8A is a bottom view of an arch support orthotic device according to a third exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 8B is a bottom view of an arch support orthotic device according to a fourth exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

Deformation of an arch support orthotic device is determined by the types of materials used in the arch support orthotic device. Because stiffer, less flexible, and/or less elastic materials will resist deformation more so than softer materials, deformation of conventional arch support orthotic device could be controlled by choosing materials with substantial flexibility. Deformation of arch support orthotic devices, according to the present invention, can be controlled not only by the intrinsic properties of the material, but also by the structural design of the arch support structure within the arch support orthotic device. In particular, the way in which the plurality of arch support structures are connected will determine the extent of the deformation of the arch support orthotic device. As an example, when vertical stresses are imposed upon the arch support device, without square or honeycomb structures, the orthotic device would tend to elongate and flatten. The interconnected square or honeycomb wall structures under the arch will create a resistance to these elongation forces. This occurs because the square or honeycomb wall material will resist stretching in all directions. This resistance can be modified by changing the material, thickness of the square or honeycomb wall, the size, number and density of square or honeycomb structures, or a combination thereof.

Arch support structures according to exemplary embodiments of the present invention are shown in FIGS. 1-8B. In the first exemplary embodiment, square arch support structures (FIGS. 1-4) are used for applications that require moderate support. In the second exemplary embodiment, honeycomb arch support structures (FIGS. 4-8B) are used in applications that require greater support. Arch support structures of different shapes may also be used depending on the application. For simplicity, only arch support structures for a person's left footwear will be demonstrated because arch support structures for a person's right footwear can be immediately obtained by symmetry.

FIGS. 1-8B of the drawings illustrate an arch support orthotic devices 100, 200, 300, and 400 according to an exemplary embodiments of the present invention. FIGS. 1-8B include Cartesian coordinates that illustrates the relative positions among the plurality of drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary arch support orthotic device including a plurality of square support structures according to the first embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 1, the arch support orthotic device 100 comprises a proximal end (heel region) 120, distal end (toe region) 130, an upper surface 140 facing a wearer's foot and a lower surface 150 facing an inner sole surface of a footwear.

The upper surface 140 of the arch support orthotic device 100 is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, subortholon or the like, adequate to provide arch support for the expected wearer. The upper surface 140 is contoured to conform generally to the arch of a foot in the manner well-known in the art.

The lower surface 150 of the arch support orthotic device 100 includes interconnected arch support structures 110. In this exemplary embodiment, the arch support structures 110 are formed of a plurality of substantially square structures that are interconnected along the X-Y direction and performs and maintains an arch supporting function, controlling deformability of the arch support orthotic device so as to reduce or prevent the loss of the arch supporting function after a repeated wear and preventing substantial deformation against the inner sole surface of the footwear.

The arch support orthotic device 100 may be made in full foot length or a fraction thereof. In particular, the length of the arch support orthotic device 100 may be made to be 75% of the length of the wearer's foot. By having a 75% length, the arch support orthotic device 100 can be worn by a person with either wide or narrow feet. In addition, the arch support orthotic device 100 can include a non-slip pad (not shown) that can prevent slipping of the arch support orthotic device 100 against an inner sole surface of a footwear even when the size of the arch support orthotic device 100 is less than 100% of that of the shoes.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the arch support orthotic device including the plurality of square support structures according to the first embodiment of the present invention. In this exemplary embodiment, the arch support orthotic device 100 can be constructed of polypropylene, or other relatively hard or rigid plastic material. As shown in FIG. 2, the arch support orthotic device 100 tapers in thickness along its length from the proximal end 120 to the distal end 130 to accommodate the wearer's comfort. This shape provides for appropriate flexibility to avoid giving the wearer the sense of standing on a block of wood and properly supports the arch region of the wearer's foot. The square arch support structures 110L and 110H prevent collapsing of the arch support region 160 directly against the shoe inner sole surface (not shown) and thus maintains the desired supporting function.

In this exemplary embodiment, the length (in the vertical direction) of the supporting structures LV increases gradually from the distal end 130 to the proximal end 120. For different categories of users, the vertical length LV of the arch support structures 110 may be modified to prevent a collapse in the arch region and thus to maintain a full arch for support. Accordingly, in another embodiment (not shown), the length (in the vertical direction) of the supporting structures LV can increase gradually and then decrease gradually from the distal end 130 to the proximal end 120. In yet another embodiment (not shown), the length (in the vertical direction) of the supporting structures LV can decrease gradually from the distal end 130 to the proximal end 120.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the arch support orthotic device including the plurality of square support structures according to the first embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a top view of the arch support orthotic device according to the first embodiment of the present invention. For different categories of users, the horizontal distance DH and longitudinal distance DL between two adjacent arch support structures 110 H and 110L, respectively, may be modified to prevent full collapse in the arch region and thus maintain a full arch for support. In addition, the widths WH and WL of the arch support structures 110 H and 110L, respectively, may be modified to prevent full collapse in the arch region and thus maintain a full arch for support.

The horizontal distance DH between two adjacent arch support structures 110 H and longitudinal distance DL between two adjacent arch support structures 110L, in the support region may be smaller in the case of heavier users as compared to those used for lighter wearers. In this regard, one or more of DH, DL, WH, and WL can be set differently for different categories of users, for example, wearers over 200 pounds, wearers between 150-200 pounds, and wearers up to 150 pounds. In addition, these values may also be set differently based on the shoe sizes.

In general, the closer together the support structures, the more supportive the device and the more rigid the arch support region 160. In addition, the greater the width of the arch support structures, the more supportive the device and the more rigid the arch support region 160. Therefore, based on particular preferences of the manufacturer and on the market demands, a balance should be made in selecting the length of the supporting structures LV, the widths WH and WL of the arch support structures 110 H and 110L, and the horizontal distance DH, and longitudinal distance DL between two adjacent arch support structures 110 H and 110L.

In this exemplary embodiment, the horizontal distance DH and longitudinal distance DL between two adjacent arch support structures 110 H and 110L, respectively, are substantially identical throughout the arch support region 160. The widths WH and WL of the arch support structures 110 H and 110L are, for example, 0.075 to 0.125 inches. The lengths of the supporting structures LV are, for example, 0.28 to 0.5 inches. The horizontal distance DH and the longitudinal distance DL between two adjacent arch support structures 110 H and 110L are, for example, 0.1 to 0.2 inches.

In another exemplary embodiment (not shown), the horizontal distance DH may be longer than the longitudinal distance DL, or vice versa, thereby rendering the plurality of square support structures substantially rectangular. In yet another exemplary embodiment (not shown), the horizontal distance DH may decrease gradually toward the X-direction, thereby rendering the support structures to become less rigid in the center region of the arch support orthotic device 100 and more rigid in the peripheral portion of the arch support orthotic device 100.

FIGS. 4 and 5 are top and bottom views, respectively, of an arch support orthotic device including a plurality of honeycomb support structures according to a second exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 5, the arch support orthotic device 200 comprises a proximal end (heel region) 220, distal end (toe region) 230, an upper surface 240 (FIG. 4) facing a wearer's foot and a lower surface 250 facing an inner sole surface of a footwear.

The upper surface 240 of the arch support orthotic device 200 is formed of a deformable semi-rigid material, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, subortholon and the like, adequate to provide arch support for the expected wearer. The upper surface 240 is contoured to conform generally to the arch of a foot in the manner well-known in the art.

The lower surface 250 of the arch support orthotic device 200 includes interconnected arch support structures 210. In this exemplary embodiment, the arch support structures 210 are formed of a plurality of substantially honeycomb structures that are interconnected with one another. The arch support structures 210 perform and maintain an arch supporting function, controlling deformability of the arch support orthotic device so as to reduce or prevent loss of the arch supporting function after a repeated wear and preventing substantial deformation against the inner sole surface of the footwear.

The arch support orthotic device 200 may be made in full foot length or a fraction thereof. In particular, the length of the arch support orthotic device 200 may be made to be 75% of the length of the wearer's foot. By having a 75% length, the arch support orthotic device 200 can be worn by a person with either wide or narrow feet. In addition, the arch support orthotic device 200 can include a non-slip pad (not shown) that can prevent slipping of the arch support orthotic device 200 against an inner sole surface of a footwear even when the size of the arch support orthotic device 200 is less than 100% of that of the shoes.

For different categories of users, the shape of the honeycomb arch support structures 210 may be modified to prevent full collapse in the arch region and thus maintain a full arch for support. The size of the honeycomb arch support structure may be smaller in the case of heavier users as compared to those used for lighter wearers. In this regard, the shape, size, and the distance between two adjacent honeycombs can be set differently for different categories of wearers, for example, wearers over 200 pounds, wearers between 150-200 pounds, and wearers up to 150 pounds. In addition, these values may also be set differently based on the shoe sizes.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are front and side views, respectively, of the arch support orthotic device including the plurality of honeycomb support structures according to the second embodiment of the present invention. In this exemplary embodiment, the arch support orthotic device 200 can be constructed of polypropylene, or other relatively hard or rigid plastic material. As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the arch support orthotic device 200 tapers in thickness along its length and width of the arch support orthotic device 200 to accommodate the wearer's comfort. The honeycomb arch support structures 210 will prevent collapsing of the arch support region 260 directly against the shoe inner sole surface (not shown) and thus maintain the desired supporting function. In this exemplary embodiment, the length (in the vertical direction) of the supporting structures LV increases gradually from the distal end 230 to the proximal end 220. The size (width of the inner portion) of each honeycomb is typically 0.5 to 0.75 inches. The thickness (width of the peripheral portion) of each honeycomb is typically 0.055 to 0.10 inches. The height (length in the vertical direction LV) of each honeycomb is typically 0.28 to 0.5 inches.

For different categories of users, the vertical length LV of the arch support structures 210 may be modified to prevent full collapse in the arch region and thus maintain a full arch for support. Accordingly, in another embodiment (not shown), the length (in the vertical direction) of the supporting structures LV can increase gradually and subsequently decrease gradually from the distal end 230 to the proximal end 220. In yet another embodiment, the length (in the vertical direction) of the supporting structures LV can decrease gradually from the distal end 230 to the proximal end 220.

FIGS. 8A and 8B are bottom views of arch support orthotic devices including the plurality of honeycomb support structures according to third and fourth embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B, the arch support orthotic device 300 or 400 can include a non-slip pad 370 and 470 that can prevent slipping of the arch support orthotic device 300 or 400 against an inner sole surface of a footwear. Accordingly, even when the size the arch support orthotic device 300 or 400 is less than 100% of the shoes, the arch support orthotic device 300 or 400 would not slip within the shoes.

In general, the closer together the support structures, the more supportive the device and the more rigid the arch support region 360 and 460. In addition, the greater the width of the arch support structures, the more supportive the device and the more rigid the arch support region 360 and 460. Therefore, based on particular preferences of the manufacturer and on the market demands, a balance should be made in selecting the shape, size, and width of the arch support structures 310 and 410.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 8A, the shape of the arch support structures 210 are substantially honeycomb throughout the arch support region 360. For example, the widths of the arch support structures 310 are substantially identical throughout the arch support region 360. However, the size of the arch support structures 310 decreases gradually from the distal end 330 to the proximal end 320. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG 8B, the shape of the arch support structures 410 are substantially honeycomb throughout the arch support region 460. The widths of the arch support structures 410 are substantially identical throughout the arch support region 460. However, the size of the arch support structures 410 increases gradually toward the X-direction.

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

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the arch support with square or honeycomb structure of the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.