Title:
Support apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A support apparatus for use with an appliance, the apparatus having a substantially rigid support member adapted to be engaged by a human being for access to the appliance; an assembly mounting the support member on the appliance for movement through a range of positions between a primary position and a secondary position elevated from the primary position; and a mechanism for moving the support member between the primary position and the secondary position to move the human being engaged therewith between the primary position and the secondary position.



Inventors:
Nugent, Paul J. (Fresno, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/077386
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
03/18/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K13/10
View Patent Images:
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20100043137Automatic Apparatus for Washing FeetFebruary, 2010Zavan
20130232677FLUSH TOILET CONTROL SYSTEM AND RELATED METHODSeptember, 2013Miller et al.
20060288479Massaging foot bathDecember, 2006Chang
20020116758Head and face washing apparatus, shower nozzle with hood, comb type scalp washing tool, and head washing shower brushAugust, 2002Ito et al.
20080086809Overmolded hydrotherapy equipmentApril, 2008Wooten
20060225195Antibacterial and antifungal materialOctober, 2006Scholer
20150040312DRAIN APPARATUSFebruary, 2015Yang
20060090253Urine or stool sample collectorMay, 2006El Haje



Primary Examiner:
CHAN, KO HUNG
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 for use with an appliance, the support apparatus comprising a substantially rigid support member adapted to be engaged by a work object; means mounting the support member on the appliance for movement through a range of positions between a primary position and a secondary position elevated from the primary position; and means for moving said support member between the primary position and the secondary position to move said work object engaged therewith between the primary position and the secondary position.

2. The support apparatus of claim 1 wherein said mounting means is adapted to be mounted on said appliance for use and, alternatively, removed from said appliance when desired.

3. The support apparatus of claim 1 wherein said mounting means is adapted individually to be mounted on appliances of a variety of different forms.

4. The support apparatus of claim 1 wherein said work object is a human being, said appliance is a toilet and in which the support member is adapted to be engaged by said human being for movement between the primary position and the secondary position.

5. The support apparatus of claim 4 in which the toilet has a predetermined front portion and wherein said support member is pivotally mounted in a position adjacent to said front portion of the toilet for substantially pivotal movement between said primary position, disposed in substantially horizontal relation on the toilet, and said secondary position, disposed at an angle elevated from the primary position.

6. The support apparatus of claim 5 having a frame and wherein said moving means includes a hydraulic cylinder interconnecting the frame and the support member remote from said position of pivotal movement and said hydraulic cylinder is contractible, to move the support member toward the primary position, and expandable, to move the support member toward the secondary position.

7. The support apparatus of claim 6 wherein the frame, support member and hydraulic cylinder are adapted for mounting on a toilet of a plurality of different configurations.

8. The support apparatus of claim 7 in which the toilet has a predetermined back portion and wherein said frame is adapted to be mounted on said back portion and, two hydraulic cylinders are mounted on the frame on proximal end portions on opposite sides of the toilet and are mounted on the support member on distal end portions spaced from the front portion of the toilet.

9. A support apparatus for mounting on a fixture, such as a toilet or the like, to assist a human being in moving to and from a standing attitude and a seated attitude relative to said fixture, the fixture having a housing with a base portion and an upwardly facing receptacle, the support apparatus comprising a securing member adapted to be mounted on the base portion of the housing in substantially fixed relation thereto; a central unit adapted to be mounted on the housing in substantially horizontal relation having an opening extending therethrough for communication with said receptacle of the housing and a predetermined forward portion adjacent to said opening; a support member mounted for substantially pivotal movement on the central unit adjacent to said forward portion along a path of travel from a primary position, with said opening disposed in overlaying juxtaposition to the upwardly facing receptacle of said housing, to a secondary position, disposed in substantially upstanding relation to and spaced from said central unit; and a hydraulic system interconnecting the central unit and the support member operable to move the support member between the secondary position and the primary position whereby the human being, disposed in a substantially erect attitude, can be assisted by engaging the support member in the secondary position, operating said hydraulic system to move the support member to the primary position, so that the human being is in a seated attitude over said receptacle of the toilet for use thereof and after use thereof the hydraulic system can again be operated to return the support member to the secondary position and the human being to said substantially erect attitude.

10. The support apparatus of claim 9 wherein said central unit is adapted to be mounted on the housing of a fixture having any one of a number of different configurations.

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 is adapted for use with respect to a work object, such as a human being, to assist in moving the work object relative to a fixture.

(2) Description of the Prior Art

Access to a particular location, or area, for a given purpose is frequently difficult, or impossible, due to the conditions which exist. It may be, for example, difficult for a human being to achieve access to a fixture, or appliance, under certain conditions. In the case of a human beings, this may be a circumstance in which is compromised in one or more respects. Injury or another physical condition, whether temporary or permanent, can interfere with access to the fixture. The elderly frequently have limitations of a wide variety of types which are representative of this situation.

This circumstance is characteristic, for example, of gaining access to a fixture such as a toilet in hospitals, other health care facilities, areas which are accessible to the public, in the home and in a myriad of other environments. Heretofore, such access has been assisted only by methods which in most instances, are entirely inadequate. Typical prior art devices are primarily applicable only to people confined to wheelchairs. Characteristically, provision for assistance is limited to such accommodations as wide ramps and paths of travel, enlarged stalls, grasping rails and the like. In such facilities, people not bound to wheelchairs but of otherwise limited mobility have little or no use for such aids.

This is particularly the case where the invalid, or disabled person, is able to walk, albeit with difficulty, but is unable, or incapacitated to the extent, that moving from an erect, standing attitude to a seated attitude is difficult or impossible. This is usually also the case in moving from a seated attitude to a standing attitude, or any attitude therebetween. People confined to wheelchairs are also frequently presented with these same difficulties; that is, for example, moving back and forth between the wheelchair and the toilet. As disabled people have otherwise become more mobile, such as in public locations, due to consideration being given to their limitations, the need for improved assistance in restrooms has become increasingly important.

Therefore, it has long been known that it would be desirable to have a device which provides assistance to people of limited capability in assuming physical attitudes necessary in their daily lives on their own or with only limited assistance; which is particularly well suited to providing access to fixtures such as toilets and the like; which can be employed to advantage in a virtually unlimited number of environments; which can be operated with ease and dependability with little or no assistance by people with limited physical abilities; which can be deployed in a receiving attitude for initial use, in a resultant attitude for use of the fixture and returned to the receiving attitude after such use; and which is otherwise entirely successful in achieving its operational objectives.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved support apparatus having particular utility in providing access to an apparatus, device, or fixture which otherwise would not be accessible, or accessible only with great effort.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is particularly sell suited to use by people in ill health or an otherwise compromised physical condition.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is adapted for use on fixtures of a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is adapted to be employed to provide assistance to a person to gain access to a fixture such as a toilet.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is operable to assist in moving a person from an erect, or standing, attitude to a seated attitude for use of the fixture and to assist in moving a person from a seated attitude to an erect or standing attitude.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which can be employed in hospitals and other health care facilities, in public places, in the home and virtually any other environment.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which can be operated through a range of positions under the control of the person using the apparatus substantially without the assistance of other people.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is adapted readily to be attached to and removed from existing fixtures so as render the support apparatus capable of both temporary and permanent usage.

Another object is to provide such a support apparatus which is entirely dependable and safe in use.

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 for use with an appliance, or fixture, the apparatus having a substantially rigid support member adapted to be engaged by a work object; an assembly mounting the support member on the appliance for movement through a range of positions between a primary position and a secondary position elevated from the primary position; and a mechanism for moving the support member between the primary position and the secondary position to move a work object engaged therewith between the primary position and the secondary position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a fixture with the support apparatus of the present invention mounted thereon.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the support apparatus of FIG. 1 with a portion of the fixture on which the support apparatus is mounted disposed in a partially elevated attitude and with a portion of the support apparatus disposed in a lowered attitude.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the support apparatus of FIG. 1 with a portion thereof disposed in an elevated attitude.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the support apparatus with a portion thereof disposed in a partially elevated attitude.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the support apparatus disposed in the lowered attitude and a portion of the fixture on which the support apparatus is mounted disposed in a partially lowered attitude relative thereto.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the support apparatus without the fixture.

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of the support apparatus and fixture.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the bottom side of a portion of the support apparatus.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the bottom side of a second portion of the support apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring more particularly to the drawings, the support apparatus of the present invention in generally indicated by the numeral 10 in FIG. 1. A substantially flat floor surface is generally indicated by the numeral 15.

As will hereinafter become more clearly apparent, the support apparatus 10 can be mounted on any of a variety of different devices, apparatuses and fixtures. In the preferred embodiment, the support apparatus is mounted on a toilet or fixture 20. The fixture has, generally, a base portion 21, a bowl portion 22, a tank portion 23 and a lid portion 24.

The base portion 21 of the fixture 20 has a base plate 30 having a lower surface 31 and an opposite upper surface 32. The lower surface is, in the illustrative embodiment, mounted on the floor surface 15 in facing engagement therewith. The base plate has a lateral surface 33 extending thereabout. The base plate has a vertical member 34 mounted on and extending upwardly from the upper surface of the base plate. The vertical member has a lower portion 35 and an opposite upper portion 36. The vertical member has a forward portion 37 and a rearward portion 38. The vertical member has opposite side surfaces 39. The rear portion and side surfaces have a predetermined configuration, as will hereinafter be discussed in greater detail.

The base plate 30 has mounting holes 40 extending therethrough for purposes of mounting the fixture 20 on the floor surface using mounting members 44 individually extending through the mounting holes 40.

The base portion 21 of the fixture 20 has a main housing 42 which is mounted on the upper surface 32 of the base plate 30 and on the forward portion 37 of the vertical member 34. The main housing has an upper portion 43. As will become more clearly apparent, the main housing contains the main conduit or plumbing, not shown, of the fixture.

The base portion 21 of the fixture 20 has a horizontal member 50 mounted on the upper portion 36 of the vertical member 34 and extending substantially horizontally thereacross. The horizontal member has a semicircular front portion 51 and an opposite rear portion 52. The horizontal member has an upper surface 53, an opposite lower surface 54 and a lateral surface 55 extending thereabout. A substantially cylindrical passage or opening 56 of predetermined diameter extends through the front portion 51 substantially concentric to the lateral surface 55 of the front portion 51 of the horizontal member. Two (2) shaft passages 57 extend through the rear portion of the horizontal member in predetermined positions, as shown in FIG. 7.

The bowl portion 22 of the fixture 20 has a bowl housing 70 which is mounted on and integral with the upper portion 43 of the lower housing 42, the forward portion 37 of the vertical member 34 and the lower surface 54 of the horizontal member 50. The bowl housing has a convex substantially hemispherical outer surface 71 and a concave substantially hemispherical inner surface 72. The bowl housing has a circular upper end portion 73 which bounds a circular opening 74 which directly communicates with the cylindrical opening 56 of the horizontal member 50. The inner surface of the bowl housing bounds and thereby defines an interior chamber 75. It will be understood that suitable plumbing, not shown, extends from the interior chamber, through the lower housing 42 and is connected to plumbing therebelow.

The tank portion 23 of the fixture 20 has a tank housing 85 having a front wall 86, a rear wall 87 and two (2) side walls 88 which interconnect the front wall and rear wall in spaced relation to each other. The tank housing has a bottom wall 89 which is mounted on the upper surface 53 of the horizontal member 50 on the rear portion 52 thereof.

The tank portion 23 includes a tank lid 95 which is removably received on the tank housing 85 in spaced relation to the bottom wall 89. The tank lid has an upper wall 96 and a peripheral wall 97 which bounds a downwardly facing lower recess 98. The tank lid is rested on the tank housing with the tank housing received in the lower recess, it will be understood that the interior of the tank housing contains a operating assembly, not shown, which is operated by a flush handle 99 mounted on the front wall 86.

The lid portion 24 of the fixture 20 includes a lid 110 having an upper surface 111 and an opposite lower surface 112. The lid has a peripheral edge 113. Two (2) stops 114 are mounted in predetermined, spaced relation on the lower surface of the lid. The lid is mounted on the upper surface 53 of the rear portion 52 of the horizontal member 50 by a hinge assembly 115. The hinge assembly has two (2) mounts 116 individually having screw threaded shafts 117 extending downwardly. The screw threaded shafts are individually extended through the shaft passages 57 of the horizontal member 50. Two (2) nuts 118 are individually, screw threadably received on the shafts and tightened into engagement with the lower surface 54 of the rear portion 52 of the horizontal member 50.

The hinge assembly 115 includes a hinge shaft 119 which is mounted on that interconnects the mounts 116. Two (2) pivot arms 120 are mounted in spaced relation of the lower surface 112 of the lid 110 and are pivotally mounted on the hinge shaft 119 for pivotal movement thereabout, as best shown in FIG. 7. The lid is thereby mounted for pivotal movement between a closed position 121 shown in FIG. 1 and an opened position 122 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.

The support apparatus 10 of the subject invention is mounted on the fixture 20, as shown in the several views of the drawings. The support apparatus has a yoke or base member generally indicated by the numeral 130, as best shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. The base member is preferably, although not necessarily, constructed of metal. The base member has a main plate 131 having a substantially flat upper surface 132 and an opposite lower surface 133. The main plate has a front portion 134 and an opposite rear portion 135. The main plate has two (2) arm portions 136 extending laterally therefrom in opposite lateral directions. The front portion 134 and arm portions have a front edge 137 and an opposite rear edge 138. The rear edge 138 has an arcuate portion 139.

An engagement base 150 is mounted on and extends downwardly from the lower surface 133 of the main plate 131 to a substantially flat engagement surface 151. The engagement base extends along the entire length of the rear edge 138. The engagement base is mounted on and extends beneath the arm portions 136 of the main plate to form feet members 152. The main plate has a passage or slot which extends from the front edge 137 to the engagement base to form a terminal end 154 of the slot. The slot is of a predetermined width and depth. The slot is formed by two (2) lip portions 155 of the plate which are spaced from each other to define the slot therebetween and from the engagement surface 151 of the engagement base to define a chamber 156. The chamber is bounded laterally by the engagement base and vertically by the lip portions. The lip portions have rounded entrance portions 157 and an entrance end 158 of the slot. A bolt hole 159 extends through each of the lip portions in corresponding predetermined positions on opposite sides of the slot. A hydraulic cylinder mount 160 is mounted on each of the arm portions 136 of the main plate 131.

The support apparatus 10 has a central housing 170, best shown in FIG. 7. The central housing has a substantially flat upper wall 171 which, in turn, has an upper surface 172 and a lower surface 173. The central housing has a front portion 174 and an opposite rear portion 175. A peripheral wall 176 is mounted on and extends downwardly from the upper wall in a configuration allowing substantially fitted engagement of the central housing with the horizontal member 50 of the fixture 20, as best shown in FIG. 7. Two (2) shaft passages 177 extend through the upper wall at the rear portion 175 thereof. The shaft passages 177 are in positions corresponding to the shaft passages 57 of the horizontal member 50.

Referring more particularly to FIG. 8, which shows the central housing 170 in inverted relation, a substantially cylindrical wall 185 is mounted on the lower surface 173 of the upper wall. The cylindrical wall has a diameter which is slightly smaller than the diameter of the cylindrical opening 56 of the horizontal member 50 of the fixture 20. The cylindrical wall 185 is spaced from the peripheral wall 176 to define a space or passage 186 dimensioned to be fitted about the front portion 51 of the horizontal member 50, as best shown in FIG. 8. The cylindrical wall bounds an opening 187 which, in the assembled form, directly communicates with the circular opening 74 of the horizontal member and thus the interior chamber 75. This is best visualized upon reference to FIG. 7. A hinge assembly 188 is mounted on the front portion 174 of the upper surface 172 of the central housing.

A seat or support member 200 is mounted on the central housing 170 for substantially pivotal movement between the raised position, shown in FIG. 3, and the lowered position, shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 5 and 6. For purposes of illustrative convenience, the raise position shown in FIG. 3 is identified by the numeral 201; the lowered position shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 5 and 6 is identified by the numeral 202; and an intermediate position shown is FIG. 4 is identified by the numeral 203.

The support member 200 has, generally, an upper surface 210 and an opposite lower surface 211. The support member is bounded by a peripheral edge 212 and has an interior edge 213 and a rear edge 214. The interior edge bounds a substantially circular opening 215. Two (2) lateral arms 216 extend in opposite directions along the rear edge 214 of the support member. A circular margin 217 extends about the upper surface of the support member substantially concentric to the interior edge 213. The circular margin and the interior edge define a downwardly and inwardly sloped surface 218 extending toward the circular opening.

As shown best in FIG. 9, two (2) hydraulic cylinder mounts 230 are individually mounted on the lower surface 211 of each of the lateral arms 216 adjacent to the rear edge 214. Two (2) resilient stops 231 are individually mounted on the lower surface 211 adjacent to the hydraulic cylinder mounts. A hinge mount 232 is mounted on the lower surface of the support member 200 adjacent to the portion of the peripheral edge 212 most remote from the rear edge 214. The hinge mount 232 is mounted on the hinge assembly 188 of the central housing 170 for pivotal movement of the support member 200 between the raised position 201, shown in FIG. 3, and the lowered position 202, shown in FIG. 5.

A hydraulic system 233 operably interconnects the main plate 131 and the support member 200. More specifically, the hydraulic system 233 has two (2) hydraulic cylinder assemblies 234 each having a cylinder portion 235 and a shaft portion 236. The hydraulic cylinder assemblies can be of any suitable type connected to a hydraulic operation system, not shown. The proximal end of each cylinder portion mounts a lower link 237. The lower link is operably connected to its respective hydraulic cylinder mount 160 by a pin 238. The distal end of each shaft portion 236 mounts an upper link 239. The upper link is operably connected to its respective hydraulic cylinder mount 230 by a pin 240. The hydraulic system 233, through the expansion of contraction of the hydraulic cylinder assemblies, is operable to move the support member 200 to the raised position 201, shown in FIG. 3, and, conversely, to the lowered position 202, shown in FIG. 2, and to any position therebetween including the intermediate position 203, shown in FIG. 4.

Operation

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

Referring more particularly to the drawings, the support apparatus 10 of the present invention can be mounted on virtually any type of fixture 20, whether specifically designed for the purpose, or an existing fixture. This can perhaps best be visualized upon reference to FIGS. 5, 6 and 7. The main plate 131 is simply positioned with the rearward portion 38 of the vertical member 34 of the fixture received in the slot 153 of the main plate. The slot is dimensioned to be fitted about the corresponding portion of virtually any existing fixture. The engagement surface 151 of the engagement base 150 of the fixture is rested on the floor surface 15. The mounting members 44 individually extend through the mounting holes 40 of the fixture. The mounting members are secured in the mounting means, not shown, provided in the floor 15 for this purpose.

The support apparatus 10 can be disposed in the fully closed attitude shown in FIG. 1. In this attitude, the hydraulic cylinder assemblies 234 are in their respective fully contracted conditions, the support member 200 is in the lowered position 202 shown best in FIG. 2 and the lid 110 is in the closed position 121 shown in FIG. 1. In this fully closed attitude, the fixture 20 closely resembles a conventional toilet or fixture. If desired, the fixture can be left in this condition when the fixture is not in use.

In order to use the fixture 20 which, for illustrative convenience, is disposed in the closed attitude shown in FIG. 1, the lid 110 is raised by hand to the fully open position shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. This may be considered a conventional open position with the upper surface 111 of the lid rested against tank lid 95. The hydraulic system 233 is then operated to expand the hydraulic cylinder assemblies 234 to raise the lateral arms 216, and thereby the support member 200, to the raised position 201, shown in FIG. 3. Such movement of the support member is in pivotal movement about the hinge assembly 188 at the forward edge of the central housing 170. Accordingly, the support member is pivoted about the longitudinal axis of the hinge assembly to the raised position 201.

In the raised position 201, shown in FIG. 3, the support member 200 is disposed at a preferred angle for use such as, for example, a forty-five degree (45°) angle with respect to horizontal. However, if desired, the support member can be disposed at an angle greater or smaller than the forty-five degree (45°) angle, the intermediate position 203, or any other angle, by operation of the hydraulic system 233.

With the support member 200 in, for example, the raised position 201 shown in FIG. 3, the user faces away from the fixture 20 with the user's back to the raised support member. The user then leans back against the support member with the user's posterior, or buttocks, aligned with and received within the circular opening 215 and rested against the sloped surface 218 of the support member 200.

The user subsequently operates the hydraulic system 233 to contract the hydraulic cylinder assemblies 234 thereby to lower the support member 200 from the raised position 201, shown in FIG. 3, along a path of travel pivotable about the hinge assembly 188 downwardly through the intermediate position 203, shown in FIG. 4, to the lowered position 202, shown best in FIG. 3. This movement by the support member moves the user from an erect, standing attitude leaning backwardly on the support member to a seated position on or over the fixture. The fixture 20 is then used by the user in the normal manner concluding with operation of the flush handle 99.

Upon completion of the use of the fixture 20, the hydraulic system 233 is then again operated to expand the hydraulic cylinder assemblies thereby moving the support member from the lowered position 202 to the raised position 201. This operation raises the user from a seated attitude for use of the fixture, to an erect or standing attitude. From the standing attitude the user can walk or otherwise move from the fixture. Where desired, the support apparatus 10 can be left in this position shown in FIG. 3 for the next use of the fixture 20. Alternatively, the hydraulic system 233 can be operated to contract the hydraulic cylinder assemblies 234 to return the support member to the lowered position 202. The lid 110 can then be moved, as depicted in FIG. 5, to the closed position, shown in FIG. 1. This may be considered to have a better aesthetic appearance than as shown in FIG. 3.

Where it is again desired to use the fixture 20, the support apparatus 10 it is operated as heretofore described. With reference to people whose mobility is not compromised, the fixture, it is only necessary to move the lid 110 from the lowered position shown in FIG. 1 to the raised position shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.

Therefore, the support apparatus of the present invention provides assistance to people of limited capability in assuming physical attitudes necessary in their daily lives on their own or with only limited assistance; is particularly well suited to providing access to fixtures, such as toilets and the like; can be employed to advantage in a virtually unlimited number of environments; can be operated with an ease and dependability with little or no assistance by people with limited physical abilities; can be deployed in a receiving attitude for initial use, in a resultant attitude for use of the fixture and returned to the receiving attitude after such use; and is otherwise entirely 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.