Title:
Support apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A support apparatus having a receiving member adapted to receive a work object, a frame for mounting the receiving member in a range of positions relative to a predetermined area, and an adjustment assembly borne by the frame operable to place the receiving member in a selected position within the range of positions relative to the predetermined area.



Inventors:
Macedo, David A. (Bend, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/982524
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/01/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/652
International Classes:
A47C20/00; A47C20/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILSON, BRITTANY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Rodney K. Worrel (Fresno, CA, US)
Claims:
Having described my invention, what I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:

1. A support apparatus comprising receiving means adapted to receive a work object, a frame assembly for mounting said receiving means in a range of positions relative to a predetermined area, and means borne by said frame assembly operable to place said receiving means in a selected position within said range of positions relative to the predetermined area.

2. The support apparatus of claim 1 wherein said range of positions includes a position operable to support said work object in spaced relation to the predetermined area.

3. The support apparatus of claim 1 wherein said receiving means is of sufficient strength to support the weight of the work object positioned on the receiving means substantially in said selected position.

4. The support apparatus of claim 1 wherein the range of positions is substantially vertically spaced from the predetermined area so as to permit the receiving means to be moved from and toward the predetermined area to define a greater or lesser space between the receiving means and said predetermined area in said selected position.

5. The support apparatus of claim 4 wherein the receiving means is disposed in a selected position within the range of positions, the predetermined area is the upper surface of a portion of a bed and the work object is a portion of the upper body of a person reclined on said upper surface so as to space said portion of the upper body of the person in a selected position spaced from the upper surface of said portion of the bed.

6. The support apparatus of claim 5 in which the portion of the upper body of the person has upper extremities and wherein said space between the selected position of the receiving means and the upper surface of the portion of the bed is sufficient to receive a portion of the upper extremities of said portion of the upper body of the person and the work object is the head of the person.

7. A support apparatus for use by a person, having two arms and a head, disposed in a reclining position on a bed, the bed having opposite lateral sides and an upper surface, the support apparatus comprising two support assemblies adapted individually to be positioned adjacent to said opposite lateral sides of the bed; a frame mounted on each support assembly adapted to move along a substantially vertical path of travel through a range of positions relative to said upper surface of the bed; a locking device mounted on each support assembly operable selectively to fix said frame of each support assembly in a selected position within said range of positions; and a belt member adapted to be mounted on and to interconnect said frames of the support assemblies extending over said upper surface of the bed to define a space between the upper surface of the bed and the belt member whereby a person can lay on the upper surface of the bed in a reclining attitude with the head of said person rested on the belt member supported above and in spaced relation to the upper surface of the bed and at least one arm of the person disposed in rested relation on the upper surface of the bed so as to preclude the head resting on said at least one arm of the person.

8. The support apparatus of claim 7 wherein each of said two support assemblies has a brace member mounted thereon at substantially right angles to the support assembly whereby the brace member can be positioned beneath the bed so as to retain the support assembly in upstanding relation closely adjacent to one of said opposite lateral sides of the bed.

9. The support apparatus of claim 7 wherein the frame of at least one of said support assemblies has a tensioning mechanism mounted thereon and attached to the belt member operable to tighten or loosen the belt member relative to the frames of said support assemblies.

10. The support apparatus of claim 7 wherein said belt member has an upper surface dimensioned to receive a pillow disposed for direct receipt of the head of said person in rested relation thereon.

11. The support apparatus of claim 8 wherein said brace members are pivotally mounted on their respective support assemblies for selective movement from said substantially right angles to the support assembly to raised positions disposed immediately adjacent to the support assembly and the belt member is detachable from at least one of the frames to facilitate storage of the support apparatus.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

(1) Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a support apparatus and, more particularly, to a support apparatus which has particular utility when used to support portions of the human body during a period of time for a predetermined purpose.

(2) Description of the Prior Art

There are innumerable situations in which there are consequences associated with the positioning of objects, or portions of objects, relative to each other. This is particularly the case where the human body, or that of another living creature, is involved in a particular activity, practice, or experience. The nature of the specific activity requires that a certain general or specific position be assumed. For example, in the case of surgery or other medical treatment on human beings or animals, the position of the body, or parts of the body, during the procedure are normally of critical importance.

In another environment, the operation of a motor vehicle requires that the driver assume a position which, among other considerations, permits proper visibility, access to and operation of the controls, bodily support, comfort and the like. Accordingly, these and other requirements are normally achieved when the driver assumes a seated, upright position.

Still another situation in which general positioning is beneficial is in the case of sleeping, or similar activities. The most common position to assume for normal sleeping is a reclining or otherwise recumbent attitude. Without suitable positioning, sleep may be difficult or virtually impossible. In addition, there may be adverse consequences where certain positions are assumed even where in the only attitudes conventionally possible. This may be experienced by an otherwise healthy and uncompromised individual as well as in the case of a person who is compromised in some respect.

In the case of sleeping position, other adverse consequences of such conventional positioning include a lack of or impaired sleep; stiffness in the extremities, or joints, of the body; numbness in the face, shoulders, arms, legs, or other parts of the body; impaired circulation through the body; a lack of sensation in portions of the body, either temporarily or for a more prolonged period of time; aching in the neck, arms, legs, or other parts of the body; and a myriad of other effects. One or more of these consequences may be experienced on a frequent basis by most people and may, over time, result in one or more permanent adverse conditions.

As a result of the foregoing adversities, a multiplicity of remedies have been explored and have resulted in a wide variety of commercial products, treatments, medications and the like. None of these products or other remedies has achieved more than a modest improvement in the resultant adverse conditions. Some of the products have no affect or beneficial result. Many of the products are inordinately expensive. Still other of the products exacerbate these conditions, at least under certain circumstances. In any case, the resultant conditions have not adequately been addressed even though these conditions have, in essence, always been experienced by human beings.

Therefore, it has long been known that it would be desirable to have an apparatus which alleviates the adverse consequences resulting from positioning, or attitude, in the course of certain activities, practices, experiences, or the like; which is applicable in certain situations to both human beings and other living creatures; which provides an essentially permanent remedy for these adverse consequences when used on a regular basis; which provides comfort during such activities as sleep enhancing the quality thereof so as to afford the additional benefit of being fully rested after use; which consequently results in a variety of secondary benefits such as improved thought processes, enhanced performance in work, sports activities and the like, and a rested physical appearance; which has other benefits including those relating to health as, for example, a stronger immune system, slowing of the aging process, minimization of the development of certain diseases such as arthritis, muscle degeneration, depression and the like; which achieves emotional benefits such as providing a general sense of well-being, attitude and a positive outlook notwithstanding the vicissitudes of every day life; and which is otherwise successful in achieving its operational objectives.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a support apparatus which is particularly well suited to use in certain activities.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is operable for use both in relation to human beings as well as other living creatures in certain situations.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is operable to alleviate adversities resulting from certain activities, practices, experiences and the like.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which provides a virtually permanent remedy for adversities resulting from certain activities when used on a regular basis.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is particularly well suited to usage by humans being during sleep and the like.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which does not, in any respect, interfere or detract from the particular activity involved.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which affords benefits and avoids adversities during sleep unlike anything heretofore achieved in the art.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which provides a multiplicity of benefits which are secondary to the primary purposes of the apparatus so as to achieve an overall solution to adversities experienced by virtually all human beings in one respect or another.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which can be manufactured in a number of different embodiments providing a level of comfort not experienced in prior art devices, or as a result of the usage of medications or treatments directed to the same or similar objectives.

Further objects and advantages are to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is dependable, economical, durable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

These and other objects and advantages are achieved, in the preferred embodiment of the present invention, in a support apparatus having a receiving member adapted to receive a work object, a frame for mounting the receiving member in a range of positions relative to a predetermined area, and an adjustment assembly borne by the frame operable to place the receiving member in a selected position within the range of positions relative to the predetermined area.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the support apparatus of the preferred embodiment of the present invention shown in use in a typical operative environment.

FIG. 2 is a somewhat enlarged, transverse vertical section taken on line 2-2 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of one portion of the support apparatus disposed in one operative configuration.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the portion of the support apparatus viewed in FIG. 3, but disposed in a second operative configuration.

FIG. 5 is a front elevation of the portion of the support apparatus viewed in FIGS. 3 and 4 disposed in the operative position shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation of the portion of the support apparatus viewed in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 disposed in the operative position shown in FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring more particularly to the drawings, the support apparatus of the present invention is generally indicated by the numeral 10 in FIG. 1. For illustrative convenience the support apparatus is shown rested on a floor surface 15.

The preferred embodiment of the support apparatus 10 is shown and described herein in a typical operative environment employed in conjunction with a conventional bed, generally indicated by the numeral 20 in FIG. 1. The bed has a bed frame assembly 21 which includes a headboard 22. The headboard has an upstanding panel 23 having an upper edge 24, opposite lateral edges 25 and a lower edge which is not visible in the drawings. A leg 26 is mounted on each of the lateral edges and is disposed in upstanding relation. Each leg has a lower end portion 27 which is rested on the floor surface 15.

The bed frame assembly 21 has a footboard 35 with a panel 36. The panel has an upper edge 37 and opposite lateral edges 38. The panel has a lower edge 39. Legs 40 are individually mounted on the opposite lateral edges of the panel 36 in upstanding relation. The legs 40 have lower end portions 41 which are rested on the floor surface 15.

A metal frame 50 interconnects the legs 26 of the headboard 22 and the legs 40 of the footboard 35 extending substantially horizontally therebetween. The metal frame has two (2) longitudinal, angle iron frame members 51 interconnecting the legs 26 and the legs 40 in spaced, substantially parallel relation. The metal frame has two (2) transverse, angle iron frame members 52 which individually interconnect the longitudinal frame members at the headboard 22 and at the footboard 35 in spaced, substantially parallel relation. The metal frame thus forms substantially a rectangular configuration extending between the headboard and the footboard in upwardly facing relation, as perhaps best shown in FIG. 2.

A box spring unit 53 is rested on and within the metal frame 50, as best shown in FIG. 2. The box spring unit has a bottom surface 54, opposite side surfaces 55 and end surfaces 56. The box spring unit has an upper surface 57. More specifically, the box spring unit is rested with its bottom surface 54 on the longitudinal and transverse frame members 51 and 52, respectively, with the upper surface 57 thereof disposed in upwardly facing relation.

A mattress unit 63, having a bottom surface 64, is rested upon the box spring unit 53 with the bottom surface thereof in facing engagement with the upper surface 57 of the box spring unit and in alignment therewith. The mattress unit has opposite end surfaces 66 and an upper surface 67. Thus, the box spring unit and the mattress unit are disposed relative to each other, as best shown in FIG. 2.

For illustrative convenience, two (2) pillows 70 are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 rested on the apparatus 10, as will hereinafter be described in greater detail. Each of the pillows has a lower surface 71 and an upper surface 72. Each of the pillows has side surfaces 73 and end surfaces 74.

Turning then to the apparatus 10 of the present invention itself, the apparatus has two (2) support assemblies generally indicated by the numerals 80. The support assemblies are of substantially identical construction, except in that they are mirror images of each other. The support assemblies can be fabricated from wood, metal, heavy-duty plastic, other synthetic material, or any other suitable material, or a combination thereof.

The two (2) support assemblies 80 are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in operational relation to each other and to the conventional bed 20. Since the support assemblies are of substantially identical construction, although mirror images of each other, for illustrative convenience only one (1) such support assembly is shown and described herein in detail. One (1) support assembly is shown in FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 6. It will be understood that the description of the construction of one (1) support assembly is identical to that of the other support assembly, except for being mirror images of each other.

The support assembly 80 has a frame assembly 81 having a main frame 82 and a secondary frame 83. As will subsequently be described in greater detail, in use, the secondary frame is slideable in the main frame 82 along a substantially vertical path of travel.

The main frame 82 has a housing 90. Two (2) leg members 91 are mounted on and extend downwardly from the housing in spaced, substantially parallel relation to individual end portions 92. The housing has a bottom wall 93 which extends between leg members 91. The housing has spaced, substantially parallel side walls 94, a front wall 95, a rear wall 96 and a top wall 97. The front wall and rear wall are disposed in spaced, substantially parallel relation. Similarly, the bottom wall 93 and top wall 97 are disposed in spaced, substantially parallel relation.

The housing 90 has a passage or slot 110 extending through the top wall 97 of the housing 90 to the bottom wall 93. The slot extends between the front wall 95 and the rear wall 96 and laterally between the side walls 94. The slot extends to a bottom surface 111, as shown in FIG. 5, between substantially parallel side surfaces 112, as best shown in FIG. 6, and between substantially parallel end surfaces 113, as best shown in FIG. 5. The slot extends through a substantially rectangular opening 114 in the top wall 97 to the bottom surface 111, as best shown in FIG. 2.

A locking device 120 is mounted on the housing 90, as shown in FIG. 5. The locking device has a handle 121 mounting an externally screwthreaded shaft 122 extending axially therefrom. The screwthreaded shaft 122 extends through an internally screwthreaded hole 123 in the side wall 94 on the left, as viewed in FIG. 5. The screwthreaded shaft has an engagement, or bearing, end 124 on the distal end thereof. By turning the handle 121 in one direction of rotation, the screwthreaded shaft 122, including the bearing end 124 thereof, can be advanced to the right, as viewed in FIG. 5. Alternatively, by turning the handle in the opposite direction of rotation, the screwthreaded shaft is retracted into the screwthreaded hole 123 for purposes hereinafter to be discussed.

The main frame 82 mounts a brace member 130 on and extending between the end portions 92 of the leg members 91. The brace member is pivotally mounted in this position by pivot pins 131 extending from the brace member individually into the end portions 92 of their respective nearest leg member 91. The brace member has a foot member 132 extending transversely thereof on the under side of the distal end of the brace member for engagement with the floor surface 15. The brace member can be placed in a lowered, fixed position, as shown in FIG. 3. Alternatively, the brace member can be placed in the raised, fixed position, shown in FIG. 4. The brace member can be locked in either position by any suitable means.

The secondary frame 83 is slideably received within the slot 110 of the main frame 82 for vertical movement therewithin, as perhaps best shown in FIG. 2. The secondary frame 83 has a substantially flat slide member 142 which is the portion of the secondary frame slideably received within the slot of the main frame. The slide member has a lower edge 143 and substantially parallel lateral edges 144. The slide member has an upper edge 145 substantially parallel to the lower edge 143.

The slide member 142 is thus of a rectangular configuration dimensioned to be slideable within the slot 110. The lower edge 143 is engageable with the bottom surface 111 of the slot. The lateral edges 144 are individually, slideably engageable with the end surfaces 113 of the slot. The upper edge extends above the slot. The front surface 146 is slideably engageable with one of the side surfaces 112 of the slot. The rear surface 147 is slideably engageable with the other of the side surfaces 112 of the slot, as best shown in FIGS. 2, 5 and 6.

The bearing end 124 of the locking device 120 is selectively engageable with the lateral edge 144 of the slide member 142 on the left, as viewed in FIG. 5. The locking device is thus selectively operable to lock the slide member in any vertical position within the slot 110, or to release the slide member for repositioning within the slot along a vertical path of travel.

A reel assembly 152 is mounted on the front surface 146 of each slide member 142 adjacent to the upper edge 145 of the slide member 142. The reel assembly has two (2) mounting arms 153 mounted in spaced relation on the front surface 146 individually adjacent to the lateral edges 144 of the slide member. The mounting arms 153 extend outwardly from the front surface in spaced, substantially parallel relation. A reel 154 is mounted for rotational movement between the mounting arms. The reel has a cylindrical outer surface 155 and opposite end portions 156. Mounting pins 157 individually mount the opposite end portions of the reel for rotational movement about its longitudinal axis.

The secondary frames 83 have a support mechanism 170 extending therebetween, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The support mechanism has a belt 171 mounted on and extending between the reels 154 of the two (2) reel assemblies 152. The belt is, in the preferred embodiment, constructed of a strong but flexible material such as a woven fabric, a synthetic material, leather or any other strong, flexible material. The belt 171 has an upper surface 172 and a lower surface 173. The belt has substantially parallel lateral edges 174. The belt has opposite end portions 175 which are individually attached to and wrapped around the outer surface 155 of each reel 154 of each support assembly 80.

The reels 154 of the two (2) support mechanisms individually have ratcheting mechanisms, not shown, which are operable to maintain tension in the belt extending therebetween, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The ratcheting mechanisms also operate to pay out or reel in the belt to accommodate increasing or decreasing the distance therebetween while maintaining the tension of the belt. The opposite ends of the belt can, if desired, be detached from their respective reels for purposes such as storage or replacement of the belt when worn or damaged.

OPERATION

The operation of the described embodiment of the present invention is believed to be readily apparent and is briefly summarized at this point.

In use and as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the two (2) support assemblies 80 of the support apparatus 10 are individually positioned immediately adjacent to the opposite sides of the bed 20. The brace members 130 of the respective support assemblies are pivoted downwardly from the raised position shown in FIG. 4 to the down and locked position shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 5 and 6. The support assemblies thus are retained in the upright positions shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, by the brace members. The main frames 82 thereof are preferably, but not necessarily, placed in engagement with the respective adjacent longitudinal frame members 51 and with the brace members 130 thereof beneath the bed. The support assemblies 80 are positioned in corresponding positions adjacent to the respective legs 26 on opposite lateral edges 25 of the headboard 22.

The belt 171 interconnects the reels 154 of the two (2) support assemblies 80 extending above and across the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit 63 in spaced relation thereto, as best shown in FIG. 2. The precise desired elevation of the belt above the upper surface of the mattress unit can be selected using the locking devices 120 of the main frames 82. The handles 121 of the locking devices are rotated in corresponding directions to move the bearing ends 124 of the screwthreaded shafts 122 away from engagement with lateral edges 144 of the slide members 142. This frees the slide members for upward or downward movement in their respective slots 110 of the main frames 82. Both of the slide members are moved upwardly or downwardly, as desired, to corresponding positions to place the belt at the desired elevation above the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit 63. The handles of the locking devices are then rotated in the opposite directions again to place the bearing ends 124 in binding, and thus locking, engagement with the slide members. The slide members, and thus the belt, are locked in these corresponding positions. As previously discussed, the ratcheting mechanisms of the reels 154 maintain the tension on the belt 171 so as to maintain the belt, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, in the selected elevational position above the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit 63.

The pillows 70 are then placed in rested relation on the upper surface 172 of the belt 171, also as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The spacing of the pillows is normally that consistent with two (2) people reclined for sleep on the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit with their heads individually rested on the upper surfaces 72 of the respective pillows. The tension maintained on the belt by the ratcheting mechanisms of the respective reels 154 support the pillows individually bearing the heads of the people reclined thereon.

As can perhaps best be visualized upon reference to FIG. 2, there is thus a space of the desired vertical distance between the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit 63 and the lower surface 173 of the belt 171. The weight of the heads of the persons rested on the pillows may case the belt to sag slightly beneath the pillows, but such sagging is minimal. This space can be increased or decreased by freeing the slide members 142 within their respective slots 110 using the locking devices 120, moving the slide members upwardly or downwardly as desired and thereafter again locking the slide members in the new positions using the locking devices.

The vertical space between the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit 63 and the lower surface 173 of the belt 171 is used by the reclining persons, for example, to receive the arm, or arms, and shoulder, or shoulders, thereof. The head is thus spaced from these portions of the body thereby avoiding the weight of the head thereon. The space can be vertically reduced, if desired and as previously described, so that only a portion of the weight of the head is applied to these portions of the body.

Alternatively, the apparatus 10 can be employed to support the covers, such as sheets, blankets and the like, from resting on some portion of the human body. In this case, the covers are extended over and rested on the belt 171 so as to provide spacing between the lower surface 173 of the belt and the upper surface 67 of the mattress unit 63. Such usage of the apparatus may be useful in the case, for example, of people who have had surgery or another treatment or have a condition for which it is beneficial to provide such spacing.

Consequently, all of the previously discussed adverse consequences of sleeping is what would otherwise be considered a normal position are avoided. These adverse consequences which are avoided include, but are not limited to, inadequate or impaired sleep; stiffness in the extremities and/or joints of the body; numbness or aching in the face, shoulders, arms, legs and/or other parts of the body; impaired circulation; lack of sensation in portions of the body; and a side variety of other conditions.

Furthermore, the secondary adverse consequences of normal sleep positioning are avoided. These include, but are not limited to, impaired thought processes; a tired physical appearance; impaired performance in such activities as work, sports activities and the like; susceptibility to certain diseases; emotionally detrimental affects; and a myriad of other disadvantageous conditions.

In addition, and as previously discussed, the apparatus 10 of the present invention is applicable in a variety of different forms to other activities which may apply to both humans and/or animals. It is advantageous for the body to be disposed in a beneficial attitude during, for example, surgery or the like.

Therefore, the apparatus of the present invention alleviates the adverse consequences resulting from positioning, or attitude, in the course of certain activities, practices, experiences, or the like; is applicable in certain situations to both human beings and other living creatures; provides an essentially permanent remedy for such adverse consequences when used on a regular basis; provides comfort during such activities as sleep, enhancing the quality thereof so as to afford the additional benefit of being fully rested after use; achieves a variety of secondary benefits such as improved thought processes, enhanced performance in work, sports activities and the like, and a rested physical appearance; has other benefits including those relating to health as, for example, a strengthening of the immune system, slowing of the aging process, minimization of the development of certain diseases such as arthritis, muscle degeneration, depression and the like; achieves emotional benefits such as providing a general sense of well-being, attitude and a positive outlook notwithstanding the vicissitudes of every day life; and which is otherwise successful in achieving its operational objectives.

Although, the invention has been herein shown and described in what is conceived to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is recognized that departures may be made therefrom within the scope of the invention which is not to be limited to the illustrative details disclosed.