Title:
HAND AND FOREARM STRENGTHENING DEVICE AND METHODS OF USE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present disclosure provides a therapeutic hand and forearm strengthening device which permits a user to exercise and strengthen specifically isolated hand and forearm muscles, tendons and ligaments in a number of different ways depending on the specific exercise and device configuration chosen by the user. Another object of the present disclosure also provides methods of therapeutically treating a user's hand and forearm using a device according to the present disclosure.



Inventors:
Wagner, Jody (Mount Prospect, IL, US)
Heasty, Lisa L. (Schaumburg, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/258775
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/27/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/47, 482/49
International Classes:
A63B23/14; A63B23/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MOORE & VAN ALLEN PLLC (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method of strengthening a user's hand or forearm, wherein said user follows the steps comprising: (a) selecting a desired hand and forearm strengthening device, wherein said device comprises a shaft, wherein said shaft comprises a first end and a second end, wherein said first end comprises a handle and said second end comprises a resistance end; (b) gripping said device by said handle, wherein said user grips said handle using a grip appropriate with the type of said handle; (c) inserting said device into a resistance medium, wherein said resistance end is placed in contact with said resistance medium; (d) applying the appropriate motion to said device; (e) repeating steps (c) and (d) for desired amount of time; (f) removing said device from said resistance medium; (g) optionally reconstituting said resistance medium; and (h) optionally repeating steps (a)-(h).

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said handle is interchangeable.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said resistance end is interchangeable.

4. The method according to claim 1, wherein said handle is selected from the group consisting of a screwdriver handle, a dowel, an axe handle, a hammer handle, a mallet handle, a hatchet handle, a baseball bat handle, a tennis racket handle, a golf club handle, a wrench handle and a toothbrush handle.

5. The method according to claim 4, wherein said gripping comprises a crush grip.

6. The method according to claim 1, wherein said handle is selected from the group consisting of a key, a jar lid, a D-ring handle, and a bottle cap.

7. The method according to claim 6, wherein said gripping comprises a twist grip.

8. The method according to claim 1, wherein said resistance end comprises a disk, wherein said disk is convex and wherein said convex side of said disk is in contact with said resistance medium.

9. The method according to claim 8, wherein said applied motion comprises pushing said device into said resistance medium.

10. The method according to claim 1, wherein said resistance end comprises a plurality of appendages, wherein said appendages are positioned between a 0 and 90 degree angle in relation to said resistance end.

11. The method according to claim 10, wherein said appendages are positioned at a 45 degree angle in relation to said resistance end.

12. The method according to claim 11, wherein said applied motion comprises twisting said device in a clockwise and/or counterclockwise rotation.

13. The method according to claim 1, further comprising an additional shaft portion.

14. The method according to claim 1, wherein said device is made of a material selected from the group consisting of composite material, metal, plastic, wood and combinations thereof.

15. The method according to claim 14, wherein said material is composite.

16. The method of claim 1, wherein said resistance medium is selected from the group consisting of a liquid, a solid and a semi-solid substance.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said resistance medium is selected from the group consisting of a gel, a clay, a dough and a putty.

18. The method according to claim 17, wherein said resistance medium is a putty.

19. A method of strengthening a user's hand or forearm, wherein said user follows the steps comprising: (a) selecting a desired hand and forearm strengthening device, wherein said device comprises an elongated portion comprising a top portion and a bottom portion, wherein said top and bottom portions each comprise a first and second end, and wherein said second end of said top and said bottom portions are joined together and wherein said first end of said top and said bottom portions do not come into contact when at rest; (b) gripping said device, wherein said gripping comprises a pinch grip, such that a thumb of said user is positioned on said top portion and at least one finger of said user is positioned on said bottom portion; (c) inserting said device into a resistance medium; (d) pinching said device, wherein said pinching causes said first end of said top and said first end of said bottom portion to approach each other; (e) repeating steps (c) and (d) for desired amount of time; (f) removing said device from said resistance medium; (g) optionally reconstituting said resistance medium; and (h) optionally repeating steps (a)-(h).

20. A method of strengthening a user's hand or forearm, wherein said user follows the steps comprising: (a) selecting a desired hand and forearm strengthening device, wherein said device comprises a shaft, wherein said shaft comprises a first end and a second end, wherein said first end comprises a handle and said second end comprises a resistance end; wherein said handle is in the form of a jar lid and said resistance end comprises a plurality of appendages, wherein said appendages are at a 45 degree angle to said resistance end; (b) gripping said device by said handle, wherein said gripping comprises a twist grip; (c) inserting said device into a resistance medium; (d) twisting said device in a clockwise and/or counterclockwise direction; (e) repeating steps (c) and (d) for desired amount of time; (f) removing said device from said resistance medium; (g) optionally reconstituting said resistance medium; and (h) optionally repeating steps (a)-(h).

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/986,643, filed on Nov. 9, 2007 in the name of Wagner, J. and Heasty, L., and entitled “Hand and Forearm Strengthening Device” and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/982,515, filed on Oct. 25, 2007 in the name of Wagner J. and Heasty, L., and entitled “Hand and Forearm Strengthening Device.”

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure relates, generally, to therapeutic hand strengthening tools, and more particularly, to an occupational therapy device which is designed for the therapeutic rehabilitation or general strengthening of a person's hand and/or forearm.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The hands are an extremely delicate, complicated part of the human body. When healthy, hands are exceptionally useful, and as a practical matter, they are indispensable if an individual is to function effectively in modern society. However, physical damage, even if minor, can wreak devastating havoc on the function of the hands. Such damage can occur in many ways, including physical damage as those caused by a traumatic accident, or events that effect one's ability to function the hand, as in cases such as traumatic cerebral events like a stroke. In particular, subjects who suffer such traumatic loss of hand function typically lose their ability to perform basic daily functions that require the gripping capabilities of the hand, such as turning a door knob, untwisting a jar lid, or even turning a key. However, none of these devices or techniques, prior to the present disclosure, conveniently provide quick and effective re-development and strengthening of these grasping manipulations that are an essential maneuver accomplished by the hands. Because such damage is a frequent occurrence in today's society, many techniques and devices have been devised for rehabilitating non-functioning or poorly functioning hands.

Many of these types of devices are intended to improve the overall strength and function of the hand, such as squeezing apparatuses, such as those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,445,582, 5,451,191, 5,527,240, and 5,890,999; finger and thumb exercising devices, such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,299,991, and hand-manipulating devices such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,935,045.

None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singularly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant present disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, among the many objects of the present disclosure to provide an exercise and/or therapeutic hand and forearm strengthening device which permits a user to exercise and strengthen specifically isolated hand and forearm muscles, tendons and ligaments in a number of different ways depending on the specific exercise and device configuration chosen by the user. One object of the present disclosure provides, briefly, a hand and forearm strengthening device which permits the therapeutic treatment and/or strengthening of a user's hand and/or forearm. Another object of the present disclosure also provides, briefly, methods of strengthening a user's hand and/or forearm, wherein the method includes providing a device of the present disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A illustrates a first embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

FIG. 1B illustrates a second embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

FIG. 1C illustrates a third embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 illustrates some of the possible handle types of the hand and forearm strengthening device of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 illustrates the possible interchangeability of the handle, resistance end and optional shaft of the hand and forearm strengthening device of FIGS. 1A and 1B.

FIG. 4 illustrates some of the possible shapes of the resistance means of the hand and forearm strengthening device according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 5A illustrates the variability of the angle positions of the resistance means of the hand and forearm strengthening device according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 5B illustrates some of the variability of the lengths of the resistance means of the hand and forearm strengthening device according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 5C illustrates some of the variability of the widths of the resistance means of the hand and forearm strengthening device according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 6A illustrates an embodiment of the attachment means for the handle, shaft and resistance end of a device according to the disclosure.

FIG. 6B illustrates an embodiment of the attachment means for connecting the appendages to the resistance end of a device according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 6C illustrates the variability of the number of and rotatability of the appendages of a device according to the disclosure.

FIG. 7 illustrates how to use an embodiments of the hand and forearm strengthening device according to the disclosure.

FIG. 8 illustrates a fourth embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

FIG. 9A illustrates a fifth embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

FIG. 9B is illustrates a sixth embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

FIG. 10 illustrates a seventh embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device made in accordance with the present disclosure.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

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 disclosure belongs.

The articles “a” and “an” are used herein to refer to one or to more than one (i.e. at least one) of the grammatical object of the article. By way of example, “an element” means at least one element and can include more than one element.

As used herein, the term “user,” “subject” and “patient” are used interchangeably herein and refer to a human subject who has suffered partial or complete loss of hand and/or forearm function or someone in need of general hand and/or forearm strengthening. In the first instance, the causes of partial or complete loss of hand and/or forearm function are numerous, and include individuals who may have been affected by an accident or trauma leaving them with wounds, scars, burns, injured tendons, ligaments or nerves, fractures, or even amputation of the finger(s), thumb, hand or arm, individuals who have been disabled from the affects of cumulative trauma disorders, such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, neurological conditions (e.g. multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Guillain-Barré syndrome, and the like), as well as those individuals who have suffered loss of hand function through a stroke, anoxia, and the like. In the second instance, users in need of general strengthening include, for example, athletes, typists, construction workers, and the like.

As used herein, the term “caregiver,” “health professional,” “therapist,” “exercise trainer” and the like refer to those professionals, such as physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation aids, exercise trainers, exercise physiologists and the like who help devise therapy and/or strengthening regimens and/or assist those individuals in need of therapy and/or strengthening.

The terms “strengthening”, “treatment”, “treat,” “therapy,” and “therapeutic regimen” are used synonymously herein and may refer to a subject in a therapy/rehabilitation scenario or in an exercise/health scenario. In reference to therapy, these terms refer to either the attempted remediation of a condition employed by a health professional needed to help an individual regain strength, function and use in the hand and/or forearm after surgery, accident or disease condition that results in the user losing all or partial function of the hand and/or forearm. In reference to an exercise/health scenario, these terms refer to the attempted strengthening of the hand and/or forearm employed by an exercise physiologist, trainer and the like to help an individual improve the strength, function and use in the hand and/or forearm.

As used herein, the term “hand” refers to the two intricate, prehensile, multi-fingered body parts located at the end of each arm of a human or other primate, including the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments thereof. A user's hand may or may not comprise the normal four digits and thumb. As used herein, the term “forearm” refers to the structure on the upper limb between the elbow and wrist, as well as the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments found therein.

Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B, one embodiment of the hand and forearm strengthening device 1 of the present disclosure comprises a shaft 2 with a first end 3 and second end 4, where the first end of the shaft 3 comprises a handle portion 5 and the second end of the shaft 4 comprises a resistance end 6. In one embodiment, and as shown in FIG. 1A, the hand and forearm strengthening device is formed as a unitary molded piece of material. In such an embodiment, the handle 5, shaft 2, and resistance end 6 are all together in a single unit. In another embodiment, and as shown in FIG. 1B, the hand and forearm strengthening device 1 may alternately comprise multiple pieces which, when joined together, form the complete hand and forearm strengthening device 1. For example, in one embodiment, and as shown in FIG. 1B, the handle 5 and resistance end 6 may be separated from each other. As shown in FIG. 1C, the device 1 may also further comprise an additional shaft portion 7 located between the handle 5 and resistance end 6, whereby the additional shaft portion 7 is included between the handle 5 and resistance end 6 thereby providing different stresses upon which to strengthen the user's hand and/or forearm. The length of the additional shaft portion 10 may be of any length depending on the amount of torque and/or leverage that is desired. Such lengths will be dependent on the type of injury suffered by the patient and/or the type of rehabilitation required and can be readily determined by those skilled in the art. The additional shaft portion 7 may be of any length suitable to provide the desired resistance for the user. Suitable lengths include 1 to 24 inches in length, preferably 2 to 15 inches in length, preferably 3 to 12 inches in length.

As used herein, the term “handle” or “grip” refers to that part of the hand and forearm strengthening device that the user places in the hand. The handle may take the form of a number of common handles, including, but not limited to, pull handles, wherein one or more hand(s) grip the handle(s) and exert force to shorten the distance between the hands and their corresponding shoulders, twist handles, wherein the handle requires grasping (but not pulling) and rotating the hand and either the lower arm or the whole arm about its axis, handles for wide range motion and car assist grips. Examples of these types of handles include, but are not limited to, drawer pull, handles on latchless doors, the starting cord for a lawn mower/snow blower, door knobs and levers, D-ring handles (e.g. shovels and spades), screwdrivers, axes, hammers, mallets, hatchets, dowels (e.g., rod), baseball bats, rackets, golf clubs, croquet mallets, wrenches, keys, and the like. Also included within this definition are those items which require the “gripping” action of a user's hand. The “grip strength” of an individual is the force applied by the hand to pull on, twist, or suspend from objects. There are several different types of “grips” that can be applied by a user's hand, including a “crush grip,” wherein the object being gripped rests firmly against the palm and all fingers, a “pinch grip,” wherein the fingers are on one side of an object, and the thumb on the opposite side, a “twist grip,” wherein the fingers wrap around the object at one side and the thumb is on the opposite side and movement occurs by turning the hand clockwise or counter-clockwise, and “support grip,” wherein the hand holds a handle in a first-like fashion, such as the handle of a bucket for a long period of time. Examples of such “grip”-like handles include, but are not limited to, a jar lid, a bottle cap and bottle, pliers, a wrench handle, tweezers, toothbrush, nut cracker and the like. For example, as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the device may comprise a handle resembling that of a screwdriver. In this particular embodiment, the user would grip the screwdriver-like handle in a crush grip. In addition, FIG. 2 depicts some examples of different types of handles that may be found at the first end of the shaft 3 of the present disclosure. Importantly, this depiction is not to be limiting in any way but merely to provide some examples of possible handles 5. In certain embodiments, the handle 2 is interchangeable with the device, whereby different handles as described above may be interchanged by the user or caregiver depending on the type of therapy desired. In other embodiments, the handle 2 and device 1 form a unitary unit. In such embodiments, each device will have a certain type of handle that cannot be removed.

The resistance end 6 can take the form of any shape and/or size. For example, and as shown in FIG. 3, the resistance means 6 may be in the form of a disk attached to a dowel-shaped handle portion 5. The disk may be flat, concave or convex. In such an embodiment, the user would grip the device and instead of twisting, push the resistance end 6 into the resistance medium 12. In one embodiment, and as shown in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 1C, the resistance end 6 may also be in the form a plurality of appendages 8. The appendages 8 may be of any shape. The shape will be dependent on the amount of resistance desired and can be readily determined by one skilled in the art. FIG. 4 depicts some possible shapes that these appendages may take. In some embodiments, the appendages 8 may further comprise one or more holes 9 which will allow the resistance medium 12 to pass through, thereby affecting the amount of resistance exerted onto the device. It is noted that these depictions are not to be limiting in any way but merely to provide some illustrative examples of possible shapes of the appendages 8. Moreover, the appendages 8 may be positioned at varying angles in relation to the resistance end 6. For example, as shown in FIG. 5A the appendages 8 may be found at an angle of 0 to 180 degrees in relation to the resistance end 6. Preferably, the appendages 8 are between an angle of between 0 and 90 degrees in relation to the resistance end 6, preferably the appendages are at an angle of 45 degrees in relation to the resistance end 6. As shown in FIGS. 5B and 5C, the appendages 8 may also have varying lengths and/or varying widths. Preferred lengths include from about 0.01 to 6 inches, preferably from 0.1 to 5 inches, preferably from 1 to 4 inches in length. Preferred widths include from about 0.01 to 3 inches, 0.02 to 2 inches, 0.03 to 1 inches or 0.04 to 0.75 inches.

In those embodiments of the present disclosure incorporating an interchangeable handle 5, interchangeable resistance end 6, and/or interchangeable appendages 8, the hand and/or forearm strengthening device 1 will further comprise an attachment means 11. The term “attachment means” and “fastening means” refers to any means by which two items by be bound together. Ideally, and within the scope of this embodiment, the “attachment means” does not permanently affix the two items together, but rather securely binds the two items together such that the device can still be manipulated within the resistance medium 8 and provide the desired resistance to the user's hand and/or forearm. Examples of suitable attachment means include a screw means, a snap means, a tongue-in-groove means, a male-female connector means, a slot and tab means, and the like. FIG. 6A depicts a male and female connector type attachment means 11 that may be used to connect the handle 5, optional additional shaft portion 7, and resistance end 6. FIG. 6B depicts a slot and tab-type attachment means 11 that may be used to attach the appendage 8 to the resistance end 6.

Suitable materials that can be used to manufacture the device 1 of the present disclosure include any material that will provide sufficient support and rigidity when the device is maneuvered within a resistance medium. Such materials include, but are not limited to, composites, such as fiber reinforced polymers, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, glass-fiber reinforced plastic, thermoset composites, and epoxy resins containing fibers such as aramid and carbon, and the like, metals, such as copper, zinc, nickel, aluminum, tin, titanium, iron and the like, as well as metal alloys, such as steel, brass, bronze, duralumin, titanium and the like, plastics, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyester, polyamides, poly(vinyl) chloride, polyurethanes, polycarbonates, polyvinylidene chloride, Bayblend and the like, thermoplastics, such as acrylic, celluloid, cellulose acetate, ethylene-vinyl acetate, ethylene vinyl alcohol, fluoroplastics, ionomers, kydex, liquid crystal polymer, polyacetal, polyacrylates, polyacrylonitrile, polyamide, polyamide-imide, polyaryletherketone, polybutadiene, polybutylene, polybutylene terephthalate, polyethylene terephthalate, polycyclohexylene dimethylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, polyhydroxyalkanoates, polyketione, polyester, polyethylene, polyetheretherketone, polyetherimide, polyethersulfone, polyethylenechlorinates, polyimide, polylactic acid, polymethylpentene, polyphenylene oxide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyphthalamide, polypropylene, polystyrene, polysulfone, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, spectralon and the like, wood, such as plywood, balsa wood, oak, pressboard, oriented strand board, wood-plastic composite, formica, micarta, arborite, mallite, and the like.

In another embodiment, the resistance end 6 is fixedly attached to the device 1 by means of the shaft 2. In another embodiment, the resistance end 6 is interchangeable with other resistance ends 6. In such an embodiment, the user or care giver would attach to the second end 4 of the shaft 2 the desired resistance end 6. For example, a user could choose between a resistance end 6 that comprises a form of a disk, such as that depicted in FIG. 3, with a resistance end 6 that comprises four equally spaced appendages 8 as depicted in FIG. 1A. In another embodiment, the appendages 8 are detachable from, and/or movable in relation to the resistance end 6. As shown in FIGS. 6B and 6C, the appendages 8 may be attached or detached from the resistance end 6. In such and embodiment, the user or caregiver may insert or removed the desired type and the desired number of appendages 8 in order to provide the proper amount of resistance to the user. In certain embodiments, the resistance end 6 can accommodate at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 appendages 8. In another embodiment, the appendages 8 are also rotatable in relation to the resistance end 6, thereby allowing the user and/or caregiver to alter the angle of the appendage 8 without having to remove the resistance end 6 during treatment. The determination of the desired angle of the appendage is dependent on the type of injury being treated and the desired resistance needed for therapy and can be readily determined by one skilled in the art.

When in operation, the device 1 is placed within a resistance medium 12. To manipulate the device, the user grasps the handle portion 5 of the device 1 and manipulates the device within the medium. The exact motion (e.g., pushing, twisting, pulling, etc.) to be applied by the user will be depend on the type of therapy and or strengthening desired as determined by the caregiver. Similarly, the grip used by the user will depend on the type of handle that is attached to the shaft 2. Resistance is applied to the device via the resistance end 8 engaging the resistance medium 12. For example, as shown in FIG. 7, a device 1 according to the present disclosure comprises a screwdriver-like handle 5 portion and a resistance end 6 that comprises four appendages that are equally spaced along the resistance end 6. A user would grip the handle 5 using a crush grip and then twist the device 1 either clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

As used herein, the term “resistance medium” refers to any solid, semi-solid, or liquid medium that can provide resistance when the device of the present disclosure is manipulated therein. As used herein, a liquid is a fluid that can freely form a distinct surface at the boundaries of its bulk material. Examples of suitable liquids include, but are not limited to, water, glycerin, and the like. As used herein, a semi-solid or semi-liquid refers to those substances that, while technically a solid, share some properties of liquids, such as shape conformity or something applying pressure to it, of the ability to flow. Included within this definition are gels, foams, sand and sand-like substances, clays, putties, doughs and the like. Preferably, the resistance medium is a clay, putty or dough, such as Thera-Putty™. Furthermore, the resistance medium can be altered to increase or decrease the amount of resistance applied to the device. This can be done in many ways, such as switching the resistance medium (e.g., replacing one density putty for another) or altering the composition of the resistance medium (e.g., changing the viscosity of a liquid). Also within the scope of the present disclosure the resistance medium may also comprise a flat surface, such as a table top, floor, and the like. Alternatively, the flat surface may also exhibit varying degrees of resistance, and may comprise surface materials such as rubber (e.g., a rubber mat), foam and the like. The degree of resistance provided by such a flat surface may be controlled through its thickness, hardness, or combinations thereof.

In another embodiment, the hand and forearm strengthening device 1 comprises a disk-like shape. As shown in FIG. 8, the top surface of the disk 13 (i.e., the portion of the that contacts the user's hand) comprises a space for the user's fingers 14 and palm 15. The bottom surface 16 of the disk (i.e., the portion of the device that contacts the resistance medium 12) may be flat, concave, or convex in shape. In certain embodiments, the bottom surface 16 is convex in shape. In operation, the user would grip the device 1 by placing the palm in the space provided (e.g., an indentation that fits the user's palm) 15 and the fingers in the space provided (e.g., an indentation) 14 and the ends of the user's fingers curving over the edge of the device. The user would then press the device into a resistance medium, whereby the generated resistance would strengthen the user's hand and forearm.

In another embodiment, the device 1 comprises a pincher-like shape. As shown in FIG. 9A, the pincher-like embodiment comprises a top portion 17 and a bottom portion 18, with both the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 having an first end 19 and a second end 20. In one embodiment, the device is a single, unitary piece. In such embodiments, the second ends 20 of the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 are joined together and the first end 19 of the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 do not come into contact when at rest. In another embodiment, and as shown in FIG. 9B, the second end 20 of the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 are connected by a hinge piece 21. The hinge piece may comprise a spring, hinge, or other mechanism that will allow the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 to be closed together. In these embodiment, the device at rest remains in an open position. In operation, the user will grasp the device with a pinch grip, where the thumb is on either the top portion 17 or the bottom portion 18 and at least one finger on the opposite top portion 17 or bottom portion 18. The user will then squeeze the device such that the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 such that the top portion 17 and bottom portion 18 approach each other. It is not necessary for the top and bottom portions of the device to close completely together, but rather come near enough to provide the desired resistance. For example, if therapy putty is used as the resistance medium, the user will insert the device into the putty, squeeze the device until the top portion and bottom portion come together, and then remove the device, along with a piece of the resistance medium, from the putty.

In another embodiment, the device 1 fits on the end of a user's finger. As shown in FIG. 10, the device comprises an elongated portion 22 comprising a first end 23 and a second end 24. The elongated portion 22 may be flat or curved. The second end comprises a finger holder 25 which may constitute a groove, indentation, ring or the like to accommodate the user's finger. Also located at the second end 24 of the device is a securing means 26 that wraps around the user's finger and holds the device in place. The securing means 26 may be made of any material, including but not limited to, plastic, elastic, cloth, rubber and the like. In certain embodiments, the finger holder 25 will be adjustable such that it can be loosened or tightened on the user's finger. In such embodiments, the finger holder may comprises a fastening mechanism such as Velcro™, adhesive, buckle and the like to ensure that the device remains firmly attached to the user's finger. In operation, the user will attach the device to the finger to be strengthened, and using a poking, thrusting or scraping motion, will insert the first end 23 of the device into the resistance medium 8, thereby strengthening the user's finger. Alternatively, the user may also drag the first end 23 of the device through the resistance medium, thereby creating resistance against the user's finger. In certain embodiments, where the resistance medium is a medium such as sand, clay, putty or dough, it may be necessary for the user or caregiver to reconstitute the resistance medium.

As used herein, the term “reconstitute” or “reset” refers to the restoring of the resistance medium to it's original condition (i.e. prior to the use of the hand and forearm strengthening device of the present invention). In certain embodiments where the resistance medium is a malleable substance (e.g., sand, putty, clay dough and the like), the medium will become dispersed after use of the device and no longer provide the desired resistance to the user. When this occurs, it may be necessary for the user or caregiver to reshape or remold the resistance medium prior to restarting the strengthening process.

Another embodiment of the present disclosure provides a method of strengthening a user's hand or forearm, where the user follows the steps comprising: (a) selecting a desired hand and forearm strengthening device, wherein the device comprises a shaft having a first end and a second end and wherein the first end comprises a handle and the second end comprises a resistance end; (b) gripping the device by the handle, wherein the user grips the handle using a grip appropriate with the type of handle; (c) inserting the device into a resistance medium, wherein the resistance end is placed in contact with the resistance medium; (d) applying the appropriate motion to the device; (e) repeating steps (c) and (d) for desired amount of time; (f) removing said device from said resistance medium; (g) optionally reconstituting said resistance medium; and (h) optionally repeating steps (a)-(h). In certain embodiments, after the desired number of rotations has been completed or when the resistance medium no longer provides the desired resistance, it may be necessary to reconstitute the resistance medium before proceeding. This step may be required when the resistance medium comprises materials such as putty, dough, clay, sand and the like. The user will then remove the device from the resistance medium. The user or caregiver will then reshape the medium, at which time the process is repeated until the desired therapy has been given.

In certain embodiments, the handle is selected from the group consisting of a screwdriver handle, a dowel, an axe handle, a hammer handle, a mallet handle, a hatchet handle, a baseball bat handle, a tennis racket handle, a golf club handle, a wrench handle and a toothbrush handle. In such embodiments, the gripping comprises a crush grip. In other embodiments, the handle is selected from the group consisting of a key, a jar lid, a D-ring handle, and a bottle cap. In such embodiments, the gripping comprises a twist grip.

In another embodiment, the resistance end comprises a disk, wherein the disk is convex. In such embodiments, the disk is in contact with said resistance medium. Further, in such embodiments the applied motion comprises pushing the device into said resistance medium. In another embodiment, the resistance end comprises a plurality of appendages, wherein the appendages are positioned between a 0 and 90 degree angle in relation to said resistance end. Preferably, the appendages are positioned at a 45 degree angle in relation to said resistance end. In such embodiments, the applied motion comprises twisting said device in a clockwise and/or counterclockwise rotation.

In yet another embodiment, the present disclosure provides a method of strengthening a user's hand or forearm, wherein said user follows the steps comprising: (a) selecting a desired hand and forearm strengthening device, wherein the device comprises a shaft, and wherein the shaft comprises a first end and a second end, wherein the first end comprises a handle and the second end comprises a resistance end; wherein the handle is in the form of a jar lid and the resistance end comprises a plurality of appendages, wherein the appendages are at a 45 degree angle to the resistance end; (b) gripping the device by the handle, wherein the gripping comprises a twist grip; (c) inserting the device into a resistance medium; (d) twisting the device in a clockwise and/or counterclockwise direction; (e) repeating steps (c) and (d) for desired amount of time; (f removing the device from the resistance medium; (g) optionally reconstituting said resistance medium; and (h) optionally repeating steps (a)-(h).

In another embodiment, the disclosure provides a method of using the hand and forearm strengthening device which is in the form of a pincher (see, e.g., FIGS. 9A and 9B). In one embodiment, the user follows the steps comprising: (a) selecting a desired hand and forearm strengthening device, wherein the device comprises an elongated portion comprising a top portion and a bottom portion, wherein said top and bottom portions each comprise a first and second end, and wherein the second end of the top and bottom portions are joined together and wherein the first end of the top and bottom portions do not come into contact when at rest; (b) gripping the device with a pinch grip, such that the thumb of the user is positioned on the top portion and at least one finger of the user is positioned on the bottom portion; (c) inserting the device into a resistance medium; (d) pinching the device, wherein the pinching causes the first end of the top and the first end of the bottom portion to approach each other; (e) repeating steps (c) and (d) for desired amount of time; (f removing said device from said resistance medium; (g) optionally reconstituting said resistance medium; and (h) optionally repeating steps (a)-(h).

In certain embodiments, the user will manually squeeze the device to close the top portion and bottom portion of the device together using only air as the resistance medium. This process will be continued for as long as required to provide the necessary therapy. In other embodiments, the user will insert the device into a resistance medium other than air, squeeze the device so that the top portion and bottom portion of the device close, and then remove the device from the resistance medium. This process continues until the desired therapy has been achieved, or until the resistance medium no longer provides the desired resistance, whereby the user or caregiver will reconstitute the resistance medium and the process repeated.

In another embodiment, the present disclosure also provides a method of using the hand and therapy device in the form of a flattening disk (see, e.g., FIG. 8). The method comprises the caregiver providing (or the user procuring) the flattening device of the present disclosure. The user will place the device in the palm of the hand in need of therapy. The palm of the user's hand will be placed in the provided palm indentation and the fingers in the provided finger indentation, with the ends of the fingers curled around the edge of the device. Next, the user presses the device into a resistance medium with a downward force followed by a forward motion, thereby providing resistance against the wrist and forearm portions of the user's hand and forearm. This process continues until the desired therapy has been achieved, or until the resistance medium no longer provides the desired resistance, whereby the user or caregiver will reconstitute the resistance medium and the process repeated.

In another embodiment, the present disclosure also provides a method of using the hand and therapy device in the form of a finger extension (see, e.g., FIG. 10). The method comprises the caregiver providing (or the user procuring) the finger extension device of the present disclosure. The user will place the device on the finger in need of therapy by inserting the finger into the space provided. The device is then secured to the finger using the finger holder. The user will then press the device into the resistance medium. Appropriate movements include keeping the finger rigid and “stabbing” the resistance medium and also using a scraping motion to scrap the device across the surface of the resistance medium. This process is repeated until the desired therapy has been achieved or until the resistance medium no longer provides the desired resistance, whereby the user will then remove the device, reset the resistance medium, and repeat as desired.

A “kit” is any article of manufacture (e.g. a package or container) comprising at least one hand and forearm therapy device of the present disclosure for the treatment, therapy and/or exercise of the hand and/or forearm of a person in need of therapy. The article of manufacture may be promoted, distributed, or sold as a unit for performing the methods of the present disclosure. The components included in such a kit comprise a hand and forearm therapy device comprising at least one hand and forearm therapy device and at least one resistance medium. For example, such kits will provide a plurality of devices comprising various handles and/or resistance ends and/or resistance means. In other embodiments, the kit may provide a device of the present disclosure that has interchangeable handles, resistance ends and/or resistance means. In such embodiments, the kit will contain a plurality of handles, resistance ends and/or resistance means that can be interchangeably added or removed from the device. In addition, the kits of the present disclosure may preferably contain instructions which describe a suitable method of therapy (e.g., modes of use, types of exercises, etc.). Such kits can be conveniently used, e.g., in clinical settings, hospitals, other treatment facilities as well as the home. The kits of the present disclosure may also comprise a carrying means, whereby the carrying means can be in the form of a suit case, carry case, box, bag or the like that will enable the hand and forearm strengthening device or devices, any attachments and resistance mediums to be easily transported.

It is understood that the foregoing detailed description and drawings are illustrative only and are not to be taken as limitations upon the scope of the disclosure. Various changes and modification to the disclosed embodiments, which will be apparent to those skilled in the art, may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. Further, all patents, patent applications and publications cited herein are incorporated herein by reference.