Title:
Crutch support system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A crutch support system including a harness assembly to be secured to the upper parts of the crutches and secured to the person on the lower neck and upper back. The crutch support system allows for hands free maneuvering when the person wants to let go of the crutches such as when walking up stairs.



Inventors:
Roman, Enriqve (Torrance, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/982555
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/05/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/250, 135/66
International Classes:
A45F3/14; A45B5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LANDOLFI, JR., STEVEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard Fimbres (San Pedro, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A crutch support system for use with underarm walking crutch having an underarm support, comprising: an arm loop; and a retention strap that attaches to the arm loop.

2. The crutch support system of claim 1, wherein the arm loop is adjustable in working length.

3. The crutch support system of claim 1, wherein the retention strap is adjustable in working length.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The invention relates to accessories and systems for walking crutches to make their use more versatile and safe, and more particularly to a crutch support system that retains the crutches' arm supports generally under the user's underarms even when a crutch user raises or lifts his or her hands and arms away from the crutch.

Underarm walking crutches are used by patients with a variety of temporary to permanent medical conditions and can be helpful to aid in patient mobility. There is also a style of walking crutches that include arms cuffs that engage around the user's forearms and prevent inadvertent dropping of the crutch. However, these arm cuff style of crutches require more physicality on the part of the user since the patients body weight will be more carried on the hands than under the shoulders.

One shortcoming with present underarm crutch designs is that if a user does not keep the underarm support of crutch closely engaged with the user's underarms, the crutch can fall down. In situations where a user wishes to user his or her hands to carry items, open doors, etc., losing a crutch can be a big problem. Retrieving a fallen crutch can also be difficult, which can further the risk of the user falling down, and risking further injury.

There accordingly remains a need for a crutch support system that is easy to use, can be retrofitted to existing crutches, and is low in cost.

SUMMARY

The crutch support system includes arm loops (or straps) which attach to the upper end of the underarm crutch below the underarm supports. The arm loop extends from one side of the upper end of the crutch to the other side of the upper end of the crutch to allow a person's arm to pass therethrough and loop over the shoulders. The arm loop is preferably adjustable to adjust for different arm/shoulder sizes and to adjust how snugly the crutch's underarm support will fit under the user's underarms. The arm loops will act to retain the upper support end of the crutch in close proximity to the user underarm and permit the user to lift his or her arms without otherwise holding another part of the crutch (e.g. the crutch's handle grip). The crutch support system includes a retention strap arrangement that extends across the user's shoulders/upper back from the shoulder loop of one crutch to the shoulder loop of the other crutch or could be used on the user's upper chest. The retention strap arrangement prevents the arm loops from sliding down off of a user's shoulders and down the arms, and will allow for adjustment for different chest sizes and shoulder widths. A quick release mechanism can be included as part of the retention strap arrangement. This will permit a user to easily and securely slide the crutch support system on and off. For greater adjustability and comfort, the retention strap arrangements can be adjustably retained on the arm loops by sliders. The crutch support system of the invention can be provided as an accessory to attach to existing underarm walking crutching, or can be incorporated into the design of existing crutches.

The invention also provides additional safety and convenience features for underarm walking crutches. One additional improvement is a hook member that can be attached to the underarm support portion of the crutch for hanging items such as plastic handle bags and the like. Another feature is a hand grip extension strap that will be attached to the crutch in the vicinity of the hand grips and which extends outwardly to permit a user to hold the handle extension strap while carrying items in his or her hand.

These and other features are better described with reference to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view showing a crutch user using an exemplary embodiment of the crutch support system of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view showing the same crutch user using the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1 lifting his arms without dropping his crutches.

FIG. 3 is a front view showing a conventional underarm crutch that is equipped with the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1, along with an optional item carrying hook and an accessory hand grip.

FIG. 4 is a top view showing the arm loop of the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1 with attachment and loop adjustment devices.

FIG. 5 is a rear view showing the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1 attached to two crutches.

FIG. 6 is a rear view showing a user using the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1 with the retention straps crossing over the upper back between the two arm loops.

FIG. 7 is detail of the underarm portion of a crutch being retained under a user's underarm, and the optional item carrying hook of FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section view through view lines 8-8 of FIG. 3 showing the item carrying hook is attached to the crutch.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view showing how the optional item carry hook is used to carry items in a hands-free manner.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing how the accessory handle of FIG. 3 can be used by a user to carry items while still maintaining a secure grip on the crutch in the, vicinity of the crutch's existing hand grip.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view showing a crutch user (in phantom) using an exemplary embodiment of the crutch support system 10 of the invention. The crutch support system 10 includes arm straps 14 that are attached to each underarm crutch 18A and 18B in the vicinity of underarm supports 16. A retention strap 14 is used to hold the two arm straps together. The user's hands are shown supported on hand grips (shown as 32 in FIG. 10 visible) but with accessory hand grips 30 (in the form of straps) being used. The accessory hand grips 30 can comprises strap that will be attached to the crutch in the vicinity of the hand grips 32 and extend outwardly to permit a user to hold the accessory hand straps 30, while carrying items (e.g. a bottle “B”) in his or her hand. The accessory hand grips 30 can be conveniently affixed to the crutch by the same bolt 34 used to retain the hand grip 32 between the two tubes 20A and 20B of the crutch 18.

FIG. 2 is a front view showing the same crutch user using the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1 lifting his arms without dropping his crutches. As can be seen, the arm loops 12, retained together by the retention strip 14 keep the underarm supports 16 of the crutches 18A and 18B in place generally under the user's underarms, and permit the user to more free use his or her arms and hands with less risk of falling when trying to do other activities, like grabbing something, opening a door, etc.

FIG. 3 is a front, partially exposed view showing a conventional underarm crutch 18 that is equipped with the exemplary crutch support system 10 of FIG. 1, along with the optional item carrying hook 36 and the accessory hand grip 30 retained in vicinity of hand grip 32 by the same bolt 34 used to retain the hand grip 32 between the two tubes 20A and 20B. The arm loop 12 is retained in the vicinity of the upper end of the crutch by using an attachment mechanism 22 and an adjustment mechanism 24. The attachment and adjustment mechanisms 22 and 24 are best shown in FIGS. 4 and 7, and function to retain the arm loops 12 to extend from just below the position of the underarm support 16 on the tubes 20A and 20B, respectively. The optional item carrying hook 36 can be convenient positioned so that its free hook end 40 is open to received items to be hooked thereon. The underarm support will typically have a underarm structural portion 42 connected to the top end of the two tubes 20A and 20B, and will have a padded cover 44 to provide comfort and cushioning for the user. An engagement end 46 of the item carrying hook 36 fits over the underarm structural portion 42. Besides being attached in this manner, the item carrying hook can be fitted to the crutch in other manners as well, such as by attaching with screws, bolts, brackets, and the like to the crutch. A attachment 50, such as loop of material, is attached to the retention strap 14. The attachment is preferably slideably engaged with the arm loop 12 to permit adjustment of the position of the retention strap 14 on the user's back or shoulders.

FIG. 4 is a top view showing the arm loop 12 of the exemplary crutch support system of FIG. 1 with its attachment device 22 and the loop adjustment device 24. One embodiment of the attachment device can comprise a bracket that can be clamped to one tube (e.g., 20A) of the crutch, and is used to fix an end 62 of the arm loop thereto. In order to clear the underarm support 16, if desired, the attachment device can have an offset 60 to which end 62 of the arm loop 12 is fixed. The loop adjustment device 24 can likewise comprise a bracket that can be clamped to the other tube (e.g., 20B) of the crutch, and includes a device that permits adjustment of the working length of the arm loop 12 by permitting and end 28 of the arm loop to moveably slide through the loop adjustment device 24. This can comprise, a spring loaded lock, a screw lock device, or simply a small orifice in the loop adjustment device 24 that require a considerable amount of pulling to move the arm loop therethrough. Other conventional locking devices can be used. This embodiment of the crutch support system 10 is designed to be used for retrofitting conventional underarm crutches. However, if desired, the arm support features can also be directly incorporated into the design of underarm crutches. Also, while the arm loops are shown as being generally circular in cross section, they can comprise straps, have a contoured profile, can be padded, etc.

FIG. 5 is a rear view showing the exemplary crutch support system 10 of FIG. 1 attached to two crutches 18A and 18B. A quick release device 54, such as a quick release buckle, can be provided with the retention strap 14 to permit the user to slide the arm loops off the user's arm. The quick release device 54 can optionally also include a strap length adjustment device to adjust the effective distance between the two arm loops 12, and/or length adjustment device(s) 52 can be included with the attachments 50. In this embodiment, the retention strap actually has two portions 14A and 14B, each connected to one length adjustment device 52 and the quick release device 54. Although the term “retention strap” is used, the shape of the retention strap need not be flat and wide, but just functions to retain the two arm loops in a desired spaced apart orientation.

FIG. 6 is a rear view showing a user using the exemplary crutch support system 10 of FIG. 1 with the retention straps 14A and 14B crossing over the user's upper back between the two arm loops 12. The quick release device 54, attachments 50 and their length adjustment device 52 are shown.

FIG. 7 is detail of the underarm portion of a crutch being retained under a user's underarm, and the optional item carrying hook 36 shown. FIG. 7 shows the adjustment mechanism 24 as including a slider unit 64 with a tube portion 66 through which the free end 28 of the arm loop passes. A grasping ring 68 projects outwardly from the tube portion 66, and provides an easy way for slide the slider unit 64 relative to the arm portion 12. The tube portion 66 will have through channel that is size such that some force is required to move the arm loop therethrough. The inventor has found that elastic type of “bungee cord” functions well for the arm loops since is provided some flexibility and by pull on the free end of cord 28, the diameter of the cord passing through the tube portion 66 will tend to diminish, and thereby more easily allow the working length of the arm loop to be changed. For, example, to shorten the working length of the arm loop (to snug up the arm loop) with this embodiment, the user can grasp the free end 28 of the cord while holding the slider unit 64 against the adjustment mechanism 24, and then release the free end when the desired working length is achieved. To lengthen the working length of the arm loop (to loosen up the arm loop) with this embodiment, the user can simply grasp (e.g. by the grasping ring 68) and slide the slider unit 64 downwardly away from the adjustment mechanism 24. When the desired working length is achieved, the user can then stop pull down on the slider unit 64.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section view through view lines 8-8 of FIG. 3 showing the item carrying hook 36. The optional item carrying hook 36 can be convenient positioned so that its free hook end 40 is open to received items to be hooked thereon. The engagement end 46 of the item carrying hook 36 fits over the underarm structural portion 42 and will be covered by the padded cover 44.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view showing how the optional item carry hook 36 is used to carry items (e.g. a bag 70 with handle straps 72 in a hands-free manner.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing how the accessory handle 30 of FIG. 3 can be used by a user to carry an item “B” in the user's hand while still maintaining a secure grip on the crutch in the vicinity of the crutch's existing hand grip 32. As is well shown, the accessory handle 30 can comprise a flexible strap, which can be displayed outside of the line of the crutch tubes 20A and 20B The same bolt 36 used to retain the hand grip 32 can be used to retain accessory handle 30 and provides for great user versatility.

Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that the above disclosures are exemplary only and that various other alternatives, adaptations and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention. The presently disclosed embodiments are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.